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Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 8 - January 2012
What to do now

Ornamental plants

  • Order summer flowering bulbs, eg dahlias, cannas, ginger lilies, eucomis, gladioli, begonias and gloriosa.
  • Check on stored bulbs/tubers for signs of rot.
  • Plant or move shrubs, hedging, trees and roses.
  • Continue to take hardwood cuttings.
  • Knock deep snow off hedges and shrubs so the weight doesn’t splay or break branches.
  • Give silver birch trunks a good scrub to reveal the beautiful white bark.
  • Prune ivies, climbing hydrangeas and Virginia creepers.
  • Cut back the old growth on grasses (eg miscanthus and pampas grass).
  • Remove dead flowers and leaves from winter/spring bedding to keep it fresh.
  • Sow annuals such as calendula and sweet peas.
  • Start to sow tender perennials if you have a heated greenhouse/propagator.
Fruit and veg
  • Plant new fruit trees and bushes.
  • Prune congested apples and pears if you didn’t do them last month.
  • Prune back blackcurrants, white currants, redcurrants, gooseberries and autumn fruiting raspberries if you haven’t already done so.
  • Check that stored fruit and veg aren’t rotting.
  • Cover beds with black polythene or horticultural fleece where you want to plant early in the spring.
  • Sow early crops of salads, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflowers, peas, broad beans and maincrop onions in a heated propagator.
  • Order seed potatoes, onion sets, asparagus crowns and artichokes.
General tasks
  • Once the 12th night has passed, start the new year being green by recycling your Christmas tree.
  • Clean out nesting boxes while they’re vacant.
  • Keep bird feeders topped up and use a kettle of boiling water to defrost bird baths.
  • Have a good sort through your shed and gardening equipment to ensure everything’s tidy and in good working order ready for spring.
  • Wash used pots and trays so they’re ready for spring sowings.
  • While plants have died back, take the opportunity to repair and treat timber structures in the garden.
  • Brush snow off your greenhouse roof.
  • Make sure your greenhouse heater continues to work effectively.
  • Ventilate greenhouses on warmer days to keep the air circulating and reduce humidity.
  • Make a seed-sowing timetable for the next gardening year.
Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'Plant of the month

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' is one of the many dogwoods which put on a blazing display throughout the winter. Once the cold weather finds the stems of this deciduous shrub, they turn a brilliant orange/red colour and provide both colour and structure to gardens over the coldest season. Reaching 1.5m height it's easy to look after and suits a wide range of growing conditions. Find out more...

Problem of the monthBlue mould rot on garlic

Low temperatures/frost damage (shown here on a ceanothus) can present a range of symptoms including discolouration, withering and sometimes the sudden death of a plant. Prevent problems by ensuring you are growing the right plants in the right conditions and providing extra winter protection if necessary. Find out more...

In the news

Kim Jung Il growing in UK!

Horticulturalists at Moulton College, Northampton, are thought to be the only growers of the Kim Jung Il begonia in the UK. The red begonia, with large dark leaves, was developed in the 1980s and named after the now deceased leader of North Korea. It is thought that North Koreans are obliged to cultivate the plant, despite the fact that the growing space could be better used for growing much needed food.

'Britain in Bloom' under threat

A combination of a lack of money and a lack of interest is threatening the future of the 'Britain in Bloom' competition. The number of local councils entering the competition dropped to fewer than 100 in 2011 (there were over 600 entrants in 2009).

However, all is not lost! Many councils are taking alternative approaches to entering the competition, either using volunteer groups to assist, or handing the reins over to local horticultural companies who are seeing the competition as an opportunity to promote their work.

2012 will be a red, white and blue year

With the Olympics and Royal Jubilee in 2012, growers are getting ready for high demand in bedding plants, particularly in patriotic combinations of red, white and blue. Expect to find petunias, lobelias, phlox, primroses and even vegetables available in this very British colour scheme.


Shed storage solutions - for free!

Garden shed imageIt's that time of year again. As we relax on the sofa, mince pie in one hand, TV remote in the other, we're aware of a vague nagging at the back of our minds. We know it can't be the garden, with the short days and wet weather it would take a truly dedicated gardener to venture outdoors. In fact we haven't done much out there since the end of autumn, when we were all very busy in the garden. And a bit too busy to tidy up the shed after ourselves. Ah. The shed. That'll be what that nagging feeling is about!

Yes, it's the time of year when we try to drag ourselves into the shed or garage and have a jolly good sort out so it isn't such a mess when the 'real' gardening jobs of the year start again in the spring.

To try and make life a little easier, we've come up with a few easy, useful and (most importantly) free (or very cheap!) suggestions for how you can organise your shed. So don't throw away those biscuit tins, shoe boxes and margarine tubs! Keep hold of them and check out our blog on shed storage solutions.

Image source: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


What's on this month

Wrap up warm and get out and about this month at these gardening treats...

  • 15th January - 'Kick up your heels and Wassail', Ryton Gardens, Coventry.
  • 17th January - 'Wassail! The Cornish orchard on Old Twelfth Night', NT Trelissick Garden, Cornwall.
  • 19th January - Gateshead Community Garden Network Event, Central Library, Gateshead.
  • 21st & 22nd January - Open day, Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire.
  • 23rd January - Winter Head Gardener tour, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland.
  • 28th January - Wonderful witch hazels talk, RHS Wisley, Surrey.
  • 28th & 29th January (and various other dates around the UK) RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch; see their website for details of how to get involved.