Archive for the ‘January’ Category

Gardening Tips for January 2016

New year, new garden!

Daffs in flower in January – BONKERS!

Here we are at the start of a brand new year and what an amazing start it is. After the warmest December in history (and wettest in some parts of the country) who knows what unseasonal weather January will bring. In our part of the country, snowdrops and daffodils are already out and we’ve even seen bearded irises in flower. With just a couple of slight frosts so far (and none forecast for the near future) our gardens just haven’t gone to sleep and what’s more the grass is still growing!

He’s some tips to get you started:

1. Trim back any dead or dying perennials that you didn’t get time to do before Christmas. Things like peonies, valerian and asters

2. If it’s dry enough you can still cut your grass to vacuum up any last leaves and keep it looking sharp. Re-shape the edges.

3. Wisterias can now have their main prune. Prune back the whippy spurs to 2 -3 buds from the main stem. It will promote better flowering on the Spring.

4. Jet wash your paving and patio ready for spring.

5. Prune apple and pear trees.

6. Dig over any bare soil ready for spring planting.

7. Keep the fleece ready so that when we do get a cold snap (and we will, but possibly not until February) you can protect your tender plants.

8. Keep putting food out for the birds.

9. Plan your vegetable rotations so that you grow different crops in different areas

10. Remove any last debris from the vegetable plot, such as old runner bean stems, potato haulms, peas etc. If it’s diseased burn, bury or bin it rather than stick it on the compost heap to keep the plot clear and clean.

Jobs for January 2014

Happy New Year! Well another January, but thankfully not like last year. The strong winds and incessant rain have been a bit of an issue in some parts of the country but at least it’s still reasonably mild.  The days are starting to draw out slowly and there are signs of life in the borders as the spring bulbs are starting to push through.  Here are a few jobs to get on with if you get a nice dry day.

Awesome orchids -for east or west facing windowsills

1. Brighten up your house with a house plant. Now that the Christmas tree and decs are down it’s feeling a bit bare everywhere. If you can stretch to it, inject a bit of colour with an indoor plant. Orchids (Moth Orchid – Phalaenopsis spp.) are great for this and the flowers last for months.

2.  Prune Wisterias. The middle of winter is the ideal time to give wisterias their main prune (they are also lightly pruned in August). All you need to do is to shorten the lateral spurs (those whippy shoots growing from the main plant) to 2 buds away from where they meet the main stem. This will encourage a good display of flowers in May.

3. Prune Apple and Pear Trees : The main aims of pruning are to open up the tree to let in more light, remove dead and diseased branches and generally increase vigour so that the tree produces more fruiting spurs and then consequently fruits better for you. Start by cutting back any dead or diseased branches. Then cut back any crossing branches, low growing branches or any that are growing downwards. The aim is to keep the tree open enough for a pigeon to be able to fly through it without its wings touching the branches.   All this general thinning and tidying will stimulate new growth and regeneration of the tree.

4. Keep the surface of ponds ice free by placing footballs on the surface or melting holes with the bottom of a pan containing hot water.

5. Keep feeding the birds and make sure delicate plants have a thick coat of fleece around them.

6. Continue to remove leaves and debris from lawns but avoiding walking on them when they’re frozen or saturated and when spreading salt on garden paths be sure to avoid any adjoining grass, the salt will kill it outright!

7. If and when you can, scrub decking and patio areas with a stiff brush to remove slime and prevent them from being slippery; use a propriety patio cleaner or a weak bleach solution.

8. Make sure greenhouse heaters are set at the right level and working correctly to prevent your most precious plants from freezing to death and turning to mush. Some areas have had power cuts so it’s worth checking that they’re functioning correctly. Use bubble wrap on the inside of the glass for extra insulation and keep your plants on the dry side, many plants will cope with cold and dry but cold and wet spells death for many.

9. On beds and borders if the weather does allow then continue to dig in organic material, but avoid doing this if the ground is wet and heavy, you’ll cause more harm than good as it will compact the soil forcing out the air and making it more prone to waterlogging.

10. If you don’t fancy going out into the garden then now is the time to peruse those seed and plant catalogues and consider what you’d love to grow this year, perhaps a brand new introduction, a challenging delicate plant, new varieties of potato or perhaps flowers to cut for the house.

11. Keep an eye on your house plants this time of year, provide maximum light, keep them on the dry side, except for azaleas that love to sit in water, keep them away from cold draughts and hot radiators and make sure the more delicate ones aren’t trapped in a pool of cold air behind curtains during the night. Give the leaves a good dust as well as this will improve photosynthesis. Don’t bother trying to keep your poinsettias going. Its really not worth the bother.

Caring for Christmas Housplants

We had quite a few questions on looking after orchids and poinsettias on our Radio Show on Sunday so here’s a few tips on caring for them post-Christmas.

 Moth Orchids (Phalenopsis spp.)

These are probably the most common and widely available orchids that you can buy and they aren’t all that difficult to look after so there’s no need to panic. They need bright, but not harsh sunlight and do best if placed on an east or west facing windowsill. Like most houseplants keep them away from draughts and radiators and don’t put them on top of the telly.

 Don’t worry about the strange ‘white wormy things’ coming out of the top of the pot, these are just the aerial roots of the plant and are perfectly normal.  In the wild, Phalenopsis orchids are epiphytes, which means that they cling to trees and rocks rather than growing in the soil so they don’t need a lot of compost.

 Regularly check the compost and when it starts to feel dry, run tepid water through the pot until it runs out of the bottom. Don’t overwater it as the leaves will fall off and it will rot. Too little water will lead to the leaves withering and turning yellow. You can get specialist orchid feed from garden centres and DIY sheds and feed from April to September to encourage growth.  Sometimes misting the leaves, but not the flowers, to increase humidity can also help with plant growth.

 The flowers are spectacular and can last for up to 12 weeks. Once they have gone over, cut the flower spike off just above the second joint below the spent flowers and if you’re lucky another flowering side shoot will develop.

 Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima)


I always have a love hate relationship with poinsettias. It probably goes back to my DEFRA days when I spent days on my hands and knees inspecting thousands and thousands of individual plants looking for Tobacco Whitefly.

 Poinsettias are native to Mexico and so love lots of light. Don’t panic if you do get some yellowing and leaf drop, this is normal and due to our reduced light levels in the UK. They can be quite tricky to look after.

 Keep them in a well lit location but not in direct sunlight and keep them away from draughts. Don’t let the temperatures fall below 13 degrees C. Water thoroughly but wait until the compost is dry before watering again. Overwatering is the most common cause of death for poinsettias.

 Poinsettias are cheap enough in the shops. We saw some on sale for £1 over Christmas so it’s really not worth keeping them once they’ve gone over and trying to get them to bloom again for next Christmas unless you want a challenge. But if you want to have a go here’s what you do;

  1.  In early spring cut back the stems to 10cm, keep the compost dry and place somewhere shady

     2.     In May, water and re-pot the plant

     3.   Next is the tricky bit. You need to carefully control the amount of light it gets. In Sept/Oct cover the plant with a black plastic bag from early evening until the next morning so that the plant is in total darkness for 14 hours. Continue daily for eight weeks. Then hopefully it will flower again.So remember 14 hours of darkness for 8 weeks

 If you really can’t be bothered with all this kerfuffle just pick another one up next Christmas.

 (One thing to remember, poinsettias can cause a skin reaction to some people so better wear gloves if you touch them)

A Bulb For Every Month
JANUARY  Cyclamen coum

Eranthis hyemalis

Amaryllis spp.

-Pink flower

-Aconite (yellow)

-Indoor Plant -Various colours




FEBRUARY  Crocus ‘Golden Yellow’/ ‘Remembrance’

Galanthus nivale

Narcissus ‘February Gold’

Chionodoxia luciliae

-Dutch crocus large yellow/ large purple flowers

-Common snowdrop

-Early miniature, pure yellow

-Glory of the Snow–white /blue star- shaped flowers


MAR-APR in the green



MARCH  Crocus ‘Pickwick’

Minature Daffodil ‘Jet Fire’

Miniature Daff‘Jack Snipe’

Miniature Daffodill‘Minnow’

Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’

Iris danfordiae

Iris reticulata

Chionodoxia luciliae

-White, purple veins

-Golden petals,orange trumpet

-Compact,white,yellow trumpet

-Cream petals flat lemon cups

-Small blue/purple

-Golden Yellow flowers

-Violet/yellow centre

-Glory of the Snow–white/blue star flowers









APRIL  Double Early Tulips

Single Early Tulips

Triumph Tulips

Tulipa praestans ‘Fusilier’

Most Narcissi

-‘Peach Blossom’ Pink

-‘Calgary’ white

-‘White Dream’

-Minature Red

 Numerous varieties






MAY Single Late Tulips

Scilla non-scripta

Fritillaria meleagris

Gladiolius byzantinus

‘Queen of the Night’(Purple)

Bluebells (English)

Snakes Head Fritillary

Attractive cerise purple flower





JUNE  Allium atropurpureum

Nectaroscordum sp

Freesia hybrids

 Camassia leichtlinii

-wine red star flowers, ball shape

 -similar to alliums

-Not hardy, treat as annual

-Blue flowers





JULY  Freesia hybrids 

Lilium hybirds

-Not hardy, treat as annual

-various types of lily



AUGUST  Agapanthus africanus AGM

Hybrid Galdiolis

Schizostylis ‘Alba’ /             ‘Jennifer’

-African Lily – blue purple

-Various loud colours

-White/-AGM – Pink




SEPTEMBER  Colchichum ‘Autumn Herald’

Eucomis bicolor

Cyclamen hederifolium

Schizostylis spp

-Autumn crocus – pink 

-Pineapple Lily

-Pink flowers / purple eyes

 -As above





OCTOBER  Nerine bowdenii

Schizostylis spp.

-Guernsey Lily – pink

-As above

NOVEMBER Nerine bowdenii -Guernsey Lily – pink FEB-MAR
DECEMBER  Cyclamen coum

Eranthis hyemalis

-Light Pink

- Aconite (yellow)



Bulbs give great splashes of colour throughout the year and are easy to grow, and are at their best when planted in groups.