We’re embracing all that the great outdoors has to offer in January and with the help of Oswestry Head Gardener, Imogen Jackson, you can too!
January is a time of quiet in the garden, with many plants and animals sleeping. However, in a well planted garden there is still plenty of colour and growth to be found – from brilliant white Galanthus (snowdrops), exquisite Helleborus niger and golden Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconites), the red, green, yellow or black stems of Cornus (dogwood) or the wonderful array of shapes and shades of yellow, green and blue provided by evergreen shrubs and conifers. Amazing fragrance can also be found from the wonderful honey scented Sarcococcus, the spicy perfume of Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) or the delicious Viburnum x bodnatense. Because of the bare branches and lean times now is the perfect time to watch birds in your garden. Once you’ve taken the time to appreciate the life that is stirring outside there are still plenty of jobs in the garden…
• Keep weeding. Hoe or pull out annual weeds, and dig out perennial ones.
• Keep an eye out for slugs and snails hiding in empty pots, and if you have a heated greenhouse keep checking for vine weevils. Inspect apples trees for woolly aphids. Remove dead/dying foliage regularly from any plants in your greenhouse to prevent mildews and moulds spreading.
• Unless you use no dig gardening methods, keep off wet soil to avoid compacting and damaging the structure. If you can’t avoid walking on wet areas use a plank to spread your weight, especially if you have clay soil.
• If you have a greenhouse or bright windowsill sow early salad and vegetable seeds into modules for planting out after the frosts. Lettuce, summer cabbage, cauliflowers, radish, round varieties of carrots, spinach, spring onions and turnips, hardy peas and broad beans are all good to start from now. Chillies can be started if you have a heated propagator. Garlic can be planted outside until March. Start chitting first early potatoes.
• Plant hellebores. Now is the perfect time to choose new plants while they are flowering.
• Remove and compost dead and yellowing leaves from brassicas to avoid fungal diseases and minimise pests. Deadhead winter pansies regularly to keep them flowering well, and remove any diseased leaves. Remove fallen leaves covering low-growing herbs such as thyme to prevent your plants being killed by a blanket of wet foliage.
• Winter prune apple and pear trees. Do not prune stone fruit trees (apricots, cherries, plums etc) until May when risk of silver leaf infection is past.
• Look after your wildlife. Nurture spider nests – the spiders will be a valuable form of pest control later in the year. Continue feeding birds regularly too – hulled sunflower seeds and nyger seeds provide high energy food suitable all year round. Enticed birds will then eat many overwintering pests hiding in your garden.
Happy New Year!