The new year is a great time for to take stock of your garden. It's generally a quiet time in the garden, although very cold. This can be a great opportunity for some good old armchair gardening!
Use this downtime to order spring-sowing seeds and to make plans for the coming year. If you're itching to get outdoors, there are still jobs to be done!
January - A quick overview:
Remove tatty leaves from hellebores
Hoick out annual weeds
Gather birch and hazel twigs to make supports for herbaceous plants
Winter prune Wisterias
Take hardwood cuttings of trees and shrubs
Take root cuttings from shrubs and perennials
Plant deciduous hedges
Cut back stems of autumn fruiting raspberries to ground level
Cover autumn-sown broad beans during severe cold spells
Check on stored edibles, throwing away any that are soft or rotting
Comb your hand through soft-leaved grasses, to remove debris
Remove large stones from the surface of autumn sown lawns
Keep off the lawn in frosty weather
Dig over soil during mild spells
Top up bird feeders
Break ice on birdbaths
Float balls in ponds to prevent freezing
Clean and Maintain garden tools
Place a seed order
Tidy up houseplants
Plan any landscaping projects - Get in touch!
Hellebores provide a welcome splash of colour early in the year but these plants are vulnerable to a fungal disease known as hellebore leaf spot.
Cut back the old leaves of Helleborus x hybridus in late winter or early spring to ensure the nodding flowers are on full display. This also helps to control hellebore leaf spot disease
These hellebores often self-seed and the resulting offspring can grow to smother the original plant. So dig up and move seedlings before they get too large, or remove the seed pods before they open, cutting stems at the base, to prevent unwanted seedlings
Remove any damaged or diseased foliage in autumn
Once the flowers have faded in late spring, remove the old flower stems and ageing leaves to encourage new growth from the base. Leave some seedpods if you want plants to self-seed
Tackle Annual Weeds
Annual weeds are tenacious, opportunistic plants which will quickly colonize bare soil. Cold weather can help to curb germination and maybe even kill some weeds, but they will return with a vengeance during cold weather.
Five common, but annoying, annual weeds:
Annual Nettle *Urtica Urens
Bushy, upright annual to 75cm tall, with toothed leaves and clusters of small, greenish white flowers in summer. Young leaves are edible when cooked, but are covered in tiny hairs that irritate the skin.
Chickweed *Stellaria media
A semi-evergreen annual plant that thrives in mild climates all year long. It has thin, sprawling stems, tiny bright green leaves, and tiny star-shaped white flowers from spring to fall.
Groundsel *Senecio Vulgaris
An annual with upright growth that can reach heights of 60 cm and has long, deeply lobed leaves that emerge from hollow stems. produces yellow flowers that resemble a half-opened dandelion and are mostly hidden by green bracts. After flowering, seeds develop into fluffy white seed heads that are widely dispersed by the wind.
Hairy Bittercress *Cardamine Hirsuta
A hardy annual that is widely distributed and easily self-seeds in gardens. It frequently appears when the soil is disturbed or in nursery containers. In a single growing season, it can produce several generations of plants. Spring, summer, autumn, and mild winters all feature tiny white flowers. These are borne above a basal rosette of lobed pinnate leaves on short stems. After the flowers, huge amounts of seed are released from exploding seed pods, which follow the flowers.
Sun Spurge *Euphorbia Helioscopia
An indigenous annual deciduous weed that grows upright stems about 30-45 cm (12-16 in) high, branching upward, and bearing green, oval leaves and terminal clusters of tiny, insignificant yellow-green flowers from mid-spring to summer. The plant usually grows on cultivated fields, garden borders, allotments, and waste ground, where the seeds can survive for a while before being pushed to the surface by digging or other soil disturbance, where they will then germinate.
Nothing beats browsing seed catalogs or browsing online lists while the weather is bad and daydreaming about the seeds you'll be planting in a few weeks. Unfortunately, it's easy to get carried away when presented with so many alluring edibles and flowers and order far more than you'll ever get around to sowing or actually have room for in your garden. Making a lengthy wish list is the best strategy, which should then be ruthlessly edited down to something more practical.
Feed the Birds
Winter is difficult for birds, especially during extended cold spells or snowy conditions. Install some feeders with high-energy food and make sure they always have access to fresh water as your contribution to helping them get through difficult times. After that, birds have a much better chance of surviving the upcoming months.
Although some birds prefer to eat from ground feeding stations, a suspended bird table will be popular with shy species. Tubular feeders can be mounted on a feeder pole that is positioned in a lawn or border or suspended from a tree's limbs. Select a feeder with a wire cage or baffle if squirrels are a issue.
Birds will only use feeders if they feel safe from predators, so place them where the birds can see the garden well and fly to cover if they get concerned. The ideal distance between a feeder and a tree, bush, or hedge is 2.1 meters. Avoid placing feeders over thick vegetation where cats may hide and launch sneak assaults.
Don't forget the water!
Additionally, birds require a lot of water for drinking and washing. During a cold spell, keep birdbaths, dishes, and hanging bowls full and remove any ice that forms. A table tennis ball or twig floated on the surface is beneficial because it moves and prevents the formation of ice.
How to Grow Supermarket Herbs:
Select a pot that is fully filled with coriander, chives, mint, parsley, basil, or a comparable clump-forming herb. Carefully separate the root ball into four smaller sections and transplant each into a little pot. Place indoors in a well-lit area after giving it plenty water. If the stems first wilt, it is nothing to worry about. The plant will quickly recover from this, and it is quite natural. Until the plant reveals evidence of vigorous growth, refrain from harvesting any leaves. If necessary, reposition the herbs in slightly bigger pots outside over the summer.
Natural Air Purifiers
It's a fact that very few gardens smell pleasant in the winter.
A foul concoction is created by the combination of damp air, moist soil, and decomposing plant waste. There are fortunately many bushes with fragrant blossoms that will freshen the air and give you a cause to go outside when it's chilly.
FIVE FRAGRANT WINNERS
Christmas Box: produces clusters of spidery, fragrant, white flowers, and glossy, black berries that are set off by dark, wavy, oval leaves.
Gold Edged Winter Daphne: a little, variegated shrub that blooms in January and February with clusters of fragrant, light pink flowers on its branches.
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Peel': This witch hazel's naked branches are covered in pale orange blossoms with a aroma reminiscent of Seville orange marmalade.
Mahonia x Media 'Charity': From November to March, towering stems covered with glossy, prickly leaves bear sprays of yellow blooms with a fragrant aroma.
Wintersweet: From November through March, the bare branches of wintersweet are covered with profusions of fragrant, pendulous, pale yellow blooms.
Make a Hedge
A hedge provides a great physical barrier, but its uses go beyond separating our properties from curious neighbours and identifying our plots. These crucial garden elements provide a variety of functions, including security, noise reduction from traffic, windbreaks, and structural support for gardens. Hedges do, of course, have a certain aesthetic appeal that makes them a desirable addition in and of themselves.
FORMAL AND INFORMAL
Based on their shape, hedges may be divided into two categories: formal and informal. Formal hedges are closely cut to provide a geometric appearance that complements a range of garden designs, from modern to traditional. Over the summer, they need to be regularly trimmed. Informal hedges are allowed to grow their own flowers, fruit, and berries without being severely pruned.
They go well with more laid-back designs like nature gardens or classic cottage gardens. Compared to conventional hedges, informal hedges occupy more space.
Examine Your Tools
Spades are frequently utilized throughout the growing season without receiving any maintenance to maintain them in good functioning order. Spend a few minutes giving yours a thorough cleaning because neglecting maintenance will almost surely shorten their useful life. If wooden handles are beginning to crack, smooth them down with fine sandpaper and then treat the wood with linseed or walnut oil to preserve it.
De-ice your pond: Ponds may freeze over in sub-zero conditions, so if you have fish or other aquatic life, you'll need to take precautions to ensure that they can breathe. Floating a plastic ball on the water's surface is one approach to make sure the hole is free of ice. Around it, the ice will solidify, but the area beneath it will not. Another method is to heat some water in a pan and then put it on the ice. You might need to repeat the procedure many times until a hole has melted through, depending on the thickness of the ice.