You know that we are passionate about horticulture here at Petersham Nurseries, with new plants coming in every week now, there is always plenty of activity in the gardens and glasshouses. Here are just a few suggestions to keep you horticulturally active, when the weather permits – we've had rain and hard frosts, dull grey days and bright beautiful blue skies and our thoughts are turning to new growth, colour and fragrance - now and in the months ahead.
Daphne Odora 'Aureomarginata'
• When the frosts are at bay for a few days, prune dead and diseased wood from trees and shrubs
• Hard prune your Wisteria this month to encourage flower production
• Protect tender plants with horticultural fleece in cold weather
• Cut off old leaves on oriental hellebores and plant new varieties
• Sow Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in heated greenhouses or propagator and sweet peas in the cold frame
• Sweet peas sown in the autumn may be potted-on
• Prune shrub and climbing roses - aim to get this job done by Valentine's Day.
• Start forcing rhubarb. Mulch with well-rotted manure
• Clear remaining spent crops and weeds
• Chit potatoes, use saved egg boxes to keep tubers upright. Place in cool airy position
• Prepare for sowing in the open ground by covering sections of the vegetable plot with clear or black polythene
• Cover Broad Beans when freezing temperatures are forecast with fleece or cloches
• Prune established trees (apples and pears) to create fruiting spurs - you can carry on with this until the end of March, but no later
• Prune gooseberries and currants
• Plant new fruit bushes and trees as long as the soil is not frozen
• Spread compost around the base of trees and bushes
• Put cloches over strawberries if early crops are required
Review what worked best in your garden last year and what changes you thought to make this year – read through your notebook (every gardener should have a notebook!) – for detailed notes. And make plans accordingly, you will only get busier as the year marches and while there are very likely going to be wet and dark days in the weeks ahead, you can make good use of the time indoors, planning ahead. You may want to move plants, improve underwhelming displays in one area of the garden or gaps in the season you may want to plug. Don't wish the winter away, there is much to admire in a winter garden. The bare bones are free from distraction and can create a calm, classic and elegant silhouette that later are lost in the free-for-all that is spring and summer.
If you want even more inspiration and a day out, then the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire have a superb Winter Garden. Closer to home, RHS Wisley has much to recommend and Kew Gardens are preparing for their orchid extravaganza, which starts early in February.