The unexpected mild weather should really give growth in the garden a boost this year. My Canna Lilies didn’t flower until November from the shock of last winter. Fingers crossed the unseasonably high temperatures will continue and the gardening season will get under way.
I never mind January anyway as I grow so many early spring flowering shrubs and bulbs. I couldn’t possible wait until February or March for signs of life outside. My hellebores are getting leggy and their flowers are looking lovely. Winter aconites do well in the heavy ground in our garden and provide a lovely splash of colour before the snowdrops bloom. My early camellias are flowering and rhododendron ‘Christmas cheer’ is in full flower on either side of our gates. One plant that I am hoping to add to my collection of winter delights is edgworthia chrysantha, otherwise known as the ‘paper bush’. It has small white –yellow fragrant flowers but can be tender so I will try to grow it outside in a sheltered spot. I can move it into the sunroom if it becomes unhappy.
I planted the last of my tulips only last week and come February should have a continuous succession of crocuses, daffodils, muscari, fritallaria and tulips until June. Then the aliums start blooming.
Now is the time to plant fruit trees and bare root hedges. The savings when planting bare root plants can be substantial so if you are looking to install a hedge, order your bare root plants now. The mild wet weather has kept the ground soft so it should make the task easier.
January is also the time to prune roses, whether they are bushes, climbers or standards. Late pruning will delay flowering otherwise. All overgrown shrubs can be cut back hard now too. I will be cutting my fuchsias to the ground and cutting back the dogwoods too to encourage brighter stems next year. I am looking forward to cutting back the hydrangeas as they look so untidy now but will try to wait until February for this in case of frost, if I have the patience that is.
Things to do this week
– Remove lower branches from trees and large shrubs to allow light and space for underplanting with smaller flowering plants.
-If new green shoots have started to appear already on perennials these can be divided
-Prune your apple and pear trees. Reduce the number of branches and shorten some of the older ones. The aim is to allow light and air circulate, start by cutting out new growth that closes in the heart of the tree.
-Rhubarb can be forced now by popping a pot over the crown, division can be done by taking a slice from the original plant with a good few buds and supporting root.
-Spinach and early carrots can be sown under cover this month. Plenty to get you started- Happy spring everyone!
In the diary…
There will be a ‘Snowdrop Gala and other spring treasures’ seminar Sandbrook House in County Carlow which includes a visit to the famous Altmont Gardens on Saturday 4 February. For enquiries and booking contact Hester Forde at 086-8654972.
For more gardening tips and ideas go to my websitewww.gorgeousgardens.ie you can also follow me on facebook and twitter!