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What to do this week in the garden?

First Week of January

 

Traditionally this is the month that we get snow and frost so this winter will seem extra long with all the hard frosts we have been having over the last few weeks. (just think of all those nasty bugs being killed off at every frost!)

 

We might not be able to do very much in the garden but don’t be put off visiting gardens at this time of the year. Gardens in the winter are more open and light streams through tree canopies normally covered in leaves so the views in the garden change and you are much more aware of the shape of the landscape as well as the shapes of individual trees. And of course at this time of year and especially with a bit of sun the bark of trees really stands out even in the most common species. Birch Alder and Poplar are all good examples.

 

Grasses that have been frosted look stunning in the early morning and when traveling look out for “Old Man’s Beard” or its more descriptive name “Traveler’s Joy” because it is a joy to see it along the roadsides with its silver seed heads. It is a clematis that rambles all over trees and embankments of motorways but prefers the chalky areas of the country.

 

Did you go out and buy many gardening magazines over the holiday? I was amused to see the gardening magazines have migrated in my local paper shop to the top shelf!  Can you hear my wife shout out in the shop “darling why are you spending so much time looking at the top shelf”!

 

What sort of sticker have you in the back of your car? I have a Phoenx98 FM in the back of mine of course! Whilst at our local farm shop I saw a car with a Singapore Botanic Gardens sticker in the window and just as I saw it the owner appeared so I made a comment about it. We were then chatting for quite a time about gardening but it also turned out she was a keen bird watcher and her husband a keen cricketer so when he watches the cricket from South Africa she is there with her bird book identifying all she can see. Maybe I should sit with a plant book every time David Attenborugh is in the Savannah looking at lions mating and point out the beautiful grasses that they are squashing!?

 

The Sales are on! Have you been to the sales yet? Bought those clothes that you will fit into after the diet? More importantly have you been to the sales in the garden centres? Many will promote them as clearance sales but at this time of the year it tends to be Christmas decorations and yes there are bargains to be had but sales of horticultural materials tends to be seasonal. My advice is just always to be “on the look out” for a bargain. For instance……  look out for water saving crystals in July when all the hanging baskets and tubs of bedding plants are already planted. These crystals will last of another year given the right storage conditions!

 

Flower Garden

 

Everything you do in the next week is dependant on the weather and the forecast for SE England is not good with freezing night time temperatures putting paid to much work being done outside!

 

  • Plant bare-root roses in well-prepared ground
  • Trim away unwanted suckers growing around the base of trees
  • Clear borders and rake up leaves before bulbs start poking through the ground
  • Dig over gaps in borders, taking time to pick out roots of perennial weeds
  • Spread a layer of compost over borders, around shrubs and along the base of hedges
  • Protect gunnera from hard frost by covering with straw or similar insulation
  • Thin out the top growth on standard roses to prevent damage and wind rock
  • Take hardwood cuttings from dogwoods
  • Pick off faded flowers from winter-flowering pansies to prevent them setting seed

Fruit and Vegetables

 

  • Plant fruit bushes, trees and canes into enriched soil
  • Prune blackcurrants, cutting out a quarter of the oldest woody stems from mature plants
  • Order blight-resistant seed potato varieties if disease has been a problem in recent years
  • Lift and divide old clumps of rhubarb

 

Greenhouse

 

  • Collect fruits and berries from cotoneaster and pyracantha, and sow their seeds
  • Check stored bulbs and tubers for signs of rot
  • Bring potted strawberries into the greenhouse or put in a cold frame to protect from cold
  • Wash glazing inside and out to let in as much light as possible
  • Prune greenhouse vines
  • Pick off faded leaves from plants to prevent spread of fungal diseases
  • Sow lettuce, leeks and onions in a heated propagator
  • Sow greenhouse tomatoes for early pickings

Around the Garden

 

  • Cover soil with cloches or sheets of polythene to keep it dry and frost-free before digging
  • Place a ball in a pond to prevent ice completely covering the surface
  • Take your petrol mower to a dealer for maintenance
  • Finish collecting leaves and clearing old plants from beds and borders
  • Wrap tender plants, such as olives and palms, to give them extra weather protection

 

Have a great week in the garden ad see you next week.

 

Don’t forget you can hear me on Phoenix 98FM if you live in Brentwood and Billericay or log on to www.phoenixfm.com where you will not only be able to hear me but also see me!

 

Happy Gardening

 

 

Andrew

 



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