What a January we have had! With so much rain and gales, it has been difficult to gather up the enthusiasm to get out into the garden and do anything. But do be brave and venture out, there are so many bulbs coming up and early beauties flowering now – like snowdrops, crocus and some of the early Daffodils too. It does cheer you up, even in the rain!
It is well worthwhile sticking on your coat and going to have a good look at your garden this month. With perennials just starting to re-grow and shrubs bare, it is easy to have a good assessment and work out areas for improvement. Refer to photographs from last year, what did well? What struggled? Was there a month when you felt you could have had more flowers? If so, get online and find out what flowers at that time and nip to the garden centre to make a cheeky purchase or two!
I know that some find February a particularly difficult gardening month as it can be cold, dark and inhospitable outside. However, it can also be very exciting too, why? Well, it’s the planning that is such fun right now!
Seed catalogues with fabulous pictures and pamphlets full of tempting plug plants are raining through the letterbox (if you don’t receive these now it is very easy to order them from all the major suppliers; Thompson and Morgan, Suttons, Mr Fothergill, Parkers etc all do them – phone or email to receive one). So, with the rain beating down outside you can sit in the warm with a cup of tea and slice of cake and begin to dream of summer.
Now is the time to think about your summer annual displays, are you going for a colour theme? Or just a riot of bright colours? Do you enjoy dead heading? Or would you prefer to stick to things which self-clean or need minimal attention? What about watering? There are many plants which tolerate dry conditions better than most and which still give you a great display.
There are several seeds you can start now, the most obvious being Sweet Peas. These can be planted in pots any time between October and May, if you give them a little protection – cold green house, cold-frame or even a cloche – they will start to come up for you. The earlier you plant them the earlier you get flowers. You can either sow them individually in cells, or old loo roll inners, or sow 10 – 15 seeds in a pot which you plant out, in spring, as one clump without dividing, which disturbs their roots too much. Once the little plants are a couple of inches high, just nip out the growing tip. This will make them branch so that they are bushy strong little plants by the time you put them out in May.
Unless you have a heated propagator with a good light source, resist planting most of your annuals until mid-March. The cold inhibits germination and the lack of light makes for weak and weedy seedlings which are prone to damping off. Those sown a little later soon catch up
The garden centres, DIY and value shops are now starting to have Dahlia and Begonia tubers in stock, remember that these can be badly affected by cold and particularly the wet, which will quickly cause them to rot– so if you are tempted to purchase them they will need protection of a green house or a cold frame until it is warmer and drier. Tubers can be started inside for an earlier display but beware of planting them outside too early.
Finally, whilst you are dreaming, and planning remember we will again be holding the Lyn in Bloom gardening competition, with categories for hanging baskets, pots and gardens. More details next month.
Happy planning, we are off to put the kettle on and get the catalogues out …