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January in the garden

Posted on 18th January 2015

Forever Green

If you didn’t manage to get out into the garden to do a bit of pottering over the festive period, I hope you had the chance to take a stroll in a beautiful green space for some fresh, crisp air. If walking’s not your thing, what about some winter digging (weather permitting obviously) which is just the ticket for burning off some of the Christmas pudding! But do be warned, it’s better to take it steadily, because a sudden bout of hard work on a cold day could over stretch your muscles, so be sure to warm them up first (you’ll feel a bit silly doing star jumps in the front garden, but at least you won’t be out of action for a week!).

During January the ground is often frozen and the plants still fast asleep, but it won’t be long before the snowdrops are showing through, and the Hellebores are providing mid-winter sparkle. It’s during the darker months when you really appreciate the small pockets of colour and also the importance of evergreens, especially those with well-defined structures. Shrubs such as Box (Buxus) clipped into tall slender cones or Yew (Taxus) in perfectly trimmed spheres are easily overlooked in summer, when the colourful perennials are in full flower, but at this time of the year, when covered in snow or frost, they are a valuable addition to the garden.

There may not be many jobs to do this month, but January is a great time of the year for designing and planning new projects. It might be that you want to begin growing vegetables this year and need to build a raised bed, it may be a border which looks tired or overgrown, or it could be a whole new makeover. Whatever it is, plan it now and it will be much easier (and cheaper) come spring. The planning stage of any major event is key to its success. Think about a wedding, birthday or even Sunday lunch. Without planning, organisation and preparation, the big day would be a flop. It’s the same with a great garden; it very rarely happens on its own!

Jobs to do this month

  • Test your soil to see if its acidic or alkaline. This will help determine which plants will grow best
  • Place a bin or bucket over a couple of rhubarb plants to force them for some sweet early stems
  • Order flower and veg seeds online as there is a much wider choice available
  • Order your bedding plants as small plugs if you have somewhere frost free to grow them on (they probably won’t be delivered until March anyway)
  •  Ventilate greenhouses on sunny days and check weekly for diseases on plants.
  • Remove faded flowers and dead leaves quickly before rot sets in.

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