January in the garden

It's the new year, and it's more than likely you're warn out from a busy Christmas and New Year; don't worry, January is a pretty quiet time in the garden.


January plants

Sarcococca (Christmas Plant); this is our plant of the month!

Hamamelis (Witch Hazel)

Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose)

Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)

Viburnum tinus

(all available at Palmers)


recycle your tree

Not sure what to do with your Christmas tree? Recycle it by shredding, and the best thing about this is you can then use it for mulch around the garden


protecting your plants

Winter can be hard on your plants. Be sure to protect them from any winter frosts.

plants trained against a wall - protect with simple, fleece-covered frames

tender bulbs and herbaceous plants that die back - cover with a thick mulch of manure, straw or old leaves to prevent the soil freezing

evergreen plants - use a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect the soil

tender plants - grow these in pots so that they can be moved into warmth during cold weather. If it is not possible to grow them in pots, then take a cutting, grow in a greenhouse and then pot next Spring

tree ferns - wrap their crowns and trunks in a layer of fleece or hessian and straw

A bit of frost damage can sometimes be rectified; follow these simple tips to try and help your plant recover:

  • protect from the sun in the morning. If the plant defrosts too quickly it can damage the growth. Try covering the plant with a layer of black plastic to block out the sun
  • cut back any frosted growth in the Spring

And if it continues to snow:

  • shake excess snow from the branches of large trees, shrubs and hedges, particularly conifers
  • support branches of conifers with thin rope to prevent them being pulled out of shape
  • try not to walk on the grass when it snows as it will damage the turf and leave marks on the lawn
  • remove the snow from greenhouses and cold frames to let the light in and to make sure the shelter doesn't collapse with the weight

general maintenance

Partied too hard? Eaten too much Christmas turkey? Well this is a sure fire way to get you fit in January; a bit of garden tidying.

  • pick up any debris and remove any hiding places that slugs and snails might have during winter - this will help to reduce the number that return in the summer.
  • clear your paths of moss and lichen
  • if you're feeling extremely energetic then why not dig over any new beds or borders in time for spring? As long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged, it is fine to get started
  • clean and repair your garden tools and any garden furniture that might have caught the frost. When it warms up a little bit, treat your furniture, sheds, fences with a wood preservative
  • check all tree stakes are in securely and not too tight
  • clean all your pots and seedtrays...it's a job we tend to put off, but now is the best time to do it; a stiff brush and some warm water should do the trick

plant maintenance

  • prune any woody or ornamental plants, bushes or trees to shape; it is a lot easier to see what you are doing
  • remove any dead, diseased wood or leaves from plants, but only where necessary; over pruning can cause damage to your plants
  • check that any recently planted items are ok and that they have not been lifted by frost
  • put any containers onto feet to protect them from the cold floor
  • prune your standard fruit trees. Keep the centre of the plant fairly open to allow the air to circulate. Cut out any rubbing branches; this will prevent open wounds causing disease
  • protect your fruit from birds with netting; birds are very hungry this time of year!
  • repair any damage, holes or tatty edges in your lawn - remember, try not to walk on it

don't forget the birds

Winter is a hard time for wild birds, they struggle to find food in the cold and their water freezes over.

  • make sure you put out fresh water
  • put out fresh food that is high in energy, or fat/suet balls
  • give your bird table a good clean and check that it's sturdy and in good condition

relax

And if you're after something more relaxing or you're new to gardening this year, then now is the best time to sit down with a warm cup of tea, a biscuit or two and a seed catalogue.  Start thinking about what you want to plant this year. If you're growing in a greenhouse or indoors you can start growing at the end of January.

Happy gardening!