Although the weather is still cold and the ground frozen, the pressure to get on with my garden jobs is mounting – getting ahead now will make the whole gardening year run more smoothly. As the beds are frozen and bare I have decided to share some photos of my chickens to illustrate this post – however bad the weather they add colour and movement to my garden.
Looking back at January’s jobs, my rhubarb is now tucked up warmly under the forcer, the garlic is planted and the sweet peas have been sown. I have also made the first sowing of peas and broad beans in the greenhouse.
This month I have quite a long list to be getting on with, but fortunately much of it can still be done in the cover of the greenhouse or sitting at my desk.
Jobs on my list this month are:
- Order my new fruit cage – I am looking at options from Agriframes and Harrod Horticultural and will let you know next month what I have chosen. Now is the best time to order and plant fruit trees and bushes, so make it a priority if you are planning to start a fruit garden this year.
- The weather was too cold to do much pruning in January, so this month I must make sure to prune my blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes. The strawberry beds are also in dire need of weeding. At the end of the month I am planning to feed my espalier apple and pear trees and to spray them with a winter wash. Spraying (organic or otherwise) is new to me, but my espalier trees were so badly affected by pests last summer that I must do something to help them along. If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it.
- I must finish pruning my climbing roses and start to prune the bush roses. If temperatures rise I will also start feeding with rose food at the end of the month.
- I like to feed all my evergreen hedges (box, yew and laurel) with fish, blood & bone at the start of the growing season and I will begin this process as soon as conditions improve.
- The summer flowering clematis must be pruned back to about a metre in height this month – I usually try to do this around Valentine’s Day.
- I need to set out my seed potatoes to chit ready for planting out later in March.
- At the end of the month it is time to cut back the lovely winter stems of cornus and dogwoods and too tidy my few grasses.
- Seed sowing will start in earnest this month – there will be trays of vegetables and hardy annuals filling the greenhouse and I will report on these in my Greenhouse Review on Wednesday 11th February.
On a fun note I have a plan this month to meet Chloris from The Blooming Garden at The Orchard Room for tea, cake and a shopping trip to add some hellebores to my collection. I have mentioned before that I try to add to few new hellebore’s from Roger Harvey’s nursery every year to my developing woodland garden. Hellebores are my favourite winter flowering perennial, but I am also looking for some brunnera’s, epimediums and bergenia’s. This area of the garden is very dry and shady throughout the summer, so I need plants capable of coping with these difficult conditions.
I am also planning a visit to Anglesey Abbey to photograph the Winter Walk. I have been a couple of times before and can think of no better place to take my camera on a sunny winter morning – hopefully I will have some photos to share soon.
And then there is Valentine’s Day to look forward to – what a great excuse to indulge in some lovely flowers from the market. I am planning a romantic dinner party for a group of close friends – pink fizz, candles and flowers, a smoochy song list and an OTT dress code should make for a fun evening. I have been practicing making raspberry sorbet, there will be a pink rhubarb custard tart from Christopher Lloyd’s excellent book ‘Gardener Cook’ and an unusual gluten free chocolate cake made with kidney beans instead of flour. Beetroot soup will make a nice pink starter and the main course will be something simmered slowly in the Aga all day.
I am also making plans for my second daughter’s 21st birthday – she has requested a trip rather than a party, so we are making plans to take our camera’s to Florence. Plans are also hotting up for the wedding I am doing in April – I need to order in supplies this month and finalise ideas for arrangements – I am hoping there will be white tulips in abundance in the garden in April, to combine with blossom, early greenery and bare branches for a wild but springlike look. In the event that the tulips are not in flower, I can rely on my many white narcissi being out.
For a short month I seem to have a lot to pack in!!