Refresh Your Garden

Posted on: 12 January 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Now you’re no longer decking the halls, there’s plenty to be getting on with outside.

You can start sowing tomatoes in the greenhouse and planting lily bulbs in pots or borders.

Winter aconites and Christmas roses will lift the winter dreariness and birds will appreciate some well-placed food.

Top 3 Jobs For January & February

1) Recycle Your Old Christmas Tree

Cut trees can be shredded and used as mulch. If you haven’t got access to a shredder, contact your local council to find out about the recycling schemes they offer.

If you’re taking the tree in your car to a recycling point, remember to put down protective plastic sheeting or you’ll still be vacuuming needles when next Christmas comes around!

2) Cut Back Your Ornamental Grasses

By the end of January, ornamental grasses such as miscanthus can start to look a bit sorry for themselves.

Now’s the time to cut back the dead stems to ground level. Be careful not to damage the new green shoots which are emerging among them.

3) Feed Birds

Many natural food sources run out at this time of year so it’s important to provide extra food for birds.

Tits enjoy hanging bird feeders but other birds such as blackbirds and redwings will feed from the ground - rotten apples are ideal.

When choosing food, avoid wheat or barley which only attracts larger birds. Don’t forget to provide a water source as well. To prevent diseases, wash feeders and bird baths regularly.


Put Up Rooted Hardwood Cuttings

Hardwood cuttings such as dogwood taken last year should have rooted and can be potted on or planted in the garden now. It’s also a good time to take new hardwood cuttings.

Many shrubs can be propagated this way, including fruit plants such as currants. Simply cut 25cm long shoots, remove any leaves and insert in a sand-filled trench or pot filled with gritty compost, leaving two buds above the soil surface.

Plant Winter Aconites

Winter aconites are one of the first bulbs to flower. They look wonderful when established in damp soil, where they spread to form carpets of rich yellow flowers.

It’s best to buy new plants now while they’re in growth as they are more likely to be successful than dry bulbs planted at other times of years.

Hoe & Pull Up Weeds

Spells of mild weather can see weeds appearing so be vigilant and either pull them out or hoe them. The fewer weeds that manage to set seed now, the fewer weeds you’ll have this summer.

On The Patio

Plant A Pot With Christmas Roses

Christmas roses aren’t roses at all. They’re a hellebore called Helleborus niger.

Unfortunately, it’s a rare event for them to flower for Christmas day but they make up for it with beautiful blooms early in the year.

If you haven’t had much success growing them in the ground, try planting them in a tall container instead, using John Innes No 3 Compost. Gently tease the roots out before planting.


Repair Your Lawn If It’s Uneven

If you have a hollow or raised bump in the lawn, it’s an easy job to fix it.

  1. Using a half moon or spade, cut a capital H – shape in the affected area.
  2. Lift the turf and peel back the two flaps that you’ve cut.
  3. Either add additional soil to fill in a hollow or remove excess earth in the case of a raised bump.
  4. Make sure the soil is level, then put the turf back in place and firm down.

On The Veg Patch

Plant Jerusalem Artichokes

One of the easiest veg you can grow is the Jerusalem artichoke. Simply plant the tubers about 12cm deep and 30cm apart. They grow up to 2m tall and have bright yellow flowers so they make a useful windbreak for the back of the plot.

Get Ready For Sowing

Pre-warming the soil by covering it with a cloche or a simple sheet of plastic in February will allow you to make an early start on sowing this year’s crops.

Not only will it increase the soil temperature but it will help to dry out the surface. Put the cover on a few weeks before you intend to sow and hoe off any weeds that it encourages to germinate – this will help to reduce weed problems later in the season.

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How is your garden surviving January? Have you any seasonal gardening tips to share?

If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or share your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.

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