Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 32 - January 2014
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.
  • 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.
  • Divide clumps of snowdrops when they’ve finished flowering.
  • 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.
  • Prune greenhouse grapevines while they’re still dormant.
  • 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.
  • Get your petrol lawn mower serviced while it’s not in use.
  • 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.
Iris Katharine HodgkinPlant of the month

Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin' is a tiny winter gem, growing to only 12cm tall. Plant bulbs in autumn for a delicate splash of colour in January and February, they look particularly effective planted in broad swathes. If you have wet soil then it's best to plant in containers as the bulbs can be prone to rotting. Find out more...

Problem of the monthApple and pear canker

Apple and pear canker is a fungal disease which causes sunken areas on branches and die back of twigs. Affected stems eventually die and the fruit will be inedible. Infected branches should be removed and badly affected trees may need to be taken out altogether. Mainly affects apples and pears (both ornamental and edible) but other trees may also be susceptible. Find out more...

In the news

Garden restorations

A lottery grant of £2.8m has been provided to restore the 1820s Swiss Garden at Old Warden Park, Bedfordshire. 13 buildings and ornamental structures will be restored as part of the work and 20,000 new trees and shrubs will be planted. Meanwhile in Worth Park, Sussex, a 5 year restoration project has completed its first stage with the opening of the restored Italian Garden from the Victorian era.

New risks to UK trees

Restrictions on the import/export of plane trees and sweet chestnuts have been implemented in an attempt prevent plane canker and chestnut blight reaching the UK. The restrictions are the same as those used to control the spread of ash dieback disease.

3D printers used for new garden show

Renowned garden designers including Andrew Fisher Tomlin, Tom Harfleet, Kajs Bjorne and Jo Thompson are taking part in the new miNiATURE garden show in London this March. The show will feature only gardens created from 3D printers, a technique which designers are keen to exploit as a relatively low cost way of better engaging people with new garden designs.


New year resolutions

We've all tried, and often failed, to keep new year resolutions. So this year why not try to change some gardening bad habits? Here's a humorous look at some of the resolutions we make - why not take up the challenge and see if you can keep one of them this year?

"I will dig up perennial weeds properly because I know that their roots are deep and, when broken, will continue to grow"...but when it comes to doing the weeding you just pull the top growth out, promising yourself that you'll deal with it properly next time.

"I will keep the shed tidy"...yet within months you've already lost two pairs of secateurs and a pack of bulbs in there.

"I will clean and sharpen all my tools before I put them away, to keep them sharp and rust free"...then ending up with pruners so blunt they can't cut the smallest of twigs.

Tomato seedling

"I will sow seeds in good time"...instead leaving them to the last possible moment and then complaining because they aren't growing fast enough.

"I will turn my compost heap regularly so I get better compost sooner"...but instead putting half finished compost on your beds so they are decorated with partially decomposed carrot peelings and lumps of smelly, rotting grass cuttings.

"I will use fewer chemicals in the garden"...only to drench your roses in fungicide at the first sight of a tiny black spot on a leaf.

"I will clean pots as soon as I've finished them"...and ending up with a pile of dirty pots so high that it constitutes a health and safety risk for anyone walking past it.

"I will keep a record of all my plants so I know what's planted where"...then losing the labels on the way home from the garden centre and only being able to remember that it's 'a pink one'.

"I will clear out the pond properly"...but actually just scooping a bit of weed out with a net and relying on the pond wildlife to do the rest.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


What's on this month

Wrap up warm this month for your January garden events:

  • 3rd to 31st January - Free Entry For January, Waterperry Gardens, Nr Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
  • 4th & 5th January - Mulching And Hardwood Cutting Demonstrations, Woburn Abbey and Gardens, Woburn, Bedfordshire.
  • 12th January - Creative Plant Photography, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey.
  • 13th January - Choosing And Using Seeds Study Day, Great Dixter House and Gardens, Rye, East Sussex.
  • 24th January - Winter Tree Pruning Workshop, Beningbrough Hall and Gardens, York, North Yorkshire.
  • 25th January - History Of The Gardens Walk, Shugborough Estate, Stafford, Staffordshire.
  • 25th & 26th January - RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, events around the UK.
  • 26th January - Dig the Park! Volunteering Day, Brockwell Park, Herne Hill, London.
  • 30th January - Protecting Tree Diversity Talk, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey.
  • 31st January - Behind The Scenes Tour, Witley Court and Gardens, Great Witley, Worcestershire.