Happy New Year to you all.
Winter solstice is out of the way. As we inch towards longer days and shorter nights, so Hellebores, Cyclamen and Snowdrops emerge and we too can start to feel optimistic that spring is not too far away. What better way to celebrate the lengthening days than by getting out in the ‘green gym’ and working off some of those Christmas meal calories?
Your January gardening to do list:
Any unfinished December jobs
All the jobs I recommended for December may still be done now if you have not yet had the chance to get around to them.
Plan ahead: pre-order seed
Some seed will keep for what seems like forever, some must be sown fresh (as in the case of Anthriscus, for example), and some somewhere in between.
Go through your existing seed collection and dispose of any seed beyond their use by date. You could persevere with them, but germination rates will likely be low, if you get any at all.
Order seed for the coming year. Do this sooner rather than later; by the time the seeds arrive sowing times will not be that far away. Indeed some seed will prefer a spell of cold to trigger germination and need to be sown early.
Raspberries and other soft fruit
Cut all autumn fruiting raspberries to the ground.
If you have not already done so, also remove the summer’s spent raspberry and blackberry canes by cutting them to the ground. Even to the uninitiated they ought to be fairly obvious, as they will be a dark brown colour and will have the remains of where the fruit were once growing. Organise the remaining fresh green canes that will produce this coming summer’s fruit by tying them into their supports with twine.
Maintain currants and gooseberries by removing any ingrowing growth to keep an open goblet-like shape.
Mature Wisteria can be a beast to deal with in summer. It can be extremely difficult to see and access all of the tendrils that you will need to remove as part of your summer wisteria pruning regime.
Now the leaves have fallen and you can see clearly remove any unwanted growth you might have missed. Prune your earlier summer pruning points back to just two or three buds on each ‘spur’. Fewer buds per spur, in theory, concentrates the plants energies into those fewer buds and thus gives bigger and better flowers in spring.
Undertake any necessary tying in adjustments whilst you are at it to make sure the plant is trained, secure and storm proof. Tie in any tendrils you do wish to keep and train into the structure.
If you are inexperienced or need help with wisteria training and pruning, please get in touch here.
Prune grape vines
Optimum time for pruning is now. Pruning in late winter runs the risk of the vine bleeding sap, as it begins to rise at the end of winter.
For guyots, prune out all last year’s long growth growing upwards from the top of the ‘T’ shaped framework. Prune this growth back to just one or two buds. Prune out any other unwanted growth below to maintain the basic ‘T’ shape.
If you are growing cordons, prune back all side growths to just one or two buds of the main stem(s).
Plant new vines now also.
Trees and shrubs
Continue planting bare root trees and shrubs. Continue pruning any wind damaged branches also.
Now in the heart of winter this is the optimum time to move any shrubs. Start by pruning the shrub. Reducing its size reduces the stress on the plant as it starts to settle in and regrow in its new home.
Dig as much of the root ball out as you can to minimise damage to the roots and thus increase your chances of the plant adjusting to its new home.
Dig the new hole to such a depth that the shrub will be growing at the same level it was in its previous location. Avoid replanting too deeply, or too shallow. Too deep and the stem may rot. Too shallow and the root ball may dry out.
Place the shrub in position and back fill around the roots with the soil. Firm the soil with your heel to consolidate the soil. Do this in stages as you go, rather than all in one go at the end, and the plant will be much better supported and its roots in better contact with the soil.
Water the plant generously and mulch with compost or manure. If you have cats, place a coir ring around the tree on top of the freshly dug ground until the ground consolidates. Better still use a jute matting, which will allow rain water to penetrate more easily. Keep a close eye on the plant throughout the year for signs of stress and water well in dry periods.
If you need help sourcing and planting the correct tree or shrub for your plot, please get in touch here.
Treat yourself either to a good book, or better still splash out on some Hellebores to give your garden a boost of winter colour. In my humble opinion, Hellebores are essential in the winter garden. There are simply far too many good varieties available to be able to recommend just a few, although I happen to be a sucker for plum, or lime coloured varieties.
If you need help sourcing and planting Hellebores (or any other perennials, shrubs or trees for that matter) for your plot, please get in touch here.