Oak Leaf Gardening Monthly Cuttings
Newsletter 44 - January 2015
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.
  • 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.
  • Bring container grown strawberries, peaches and nectarines under cover to encourage earlier fruiting.
  • 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.
  • Re-vamp your tools; sand and apply furniture oil to the handles, sharpen blades, replace any irreparable ones and wipe all metal parts with oil.
  • 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.
Plant of the monthHamamelis mollis 'Wisley Supreme'

Hamamelis mollis 'Wisley Supreme' comes into flower this month with spidery, bright yellow, fragrant blooms on its bare stems. Growing to 4m height and spread it's a good choice for smaller gardens where you want some winter interest. Try to plant it near a pathway or door so you can appreciate the sweet scent. Find out more...

Problem of the monthWind scorched leaves

Wind scorching, also known as wind pruning, can have a severe effect on plants, browning the margins (or the entirety) of leaves and causing taller plants to permanently 'lean' away from their windward side. Create protective environments for more sensitive plants and move containers to a sheltered location in winter to prevent damage. Find out more...

In the news

London's Garden Bridge Approved

Approval has been given by the Office of the Mayor of London and local planning authorities to construct a garden bridge between Westminster and Lambeth. The £175m project is designed by Thomas Heatherwick, with Arup providing the engineering/hard landscaping, and a planting design by Dan Pearson. The bridge will be free to access and will include 270 trees plus other plants. Construction could start as early as this year.

The Fruit Expert updated

The Dr D.G. Hessayon publication, The Fruit Expert, has been updated to include more than 70 new varieties, including dragon fruit and goji berries. First published in 1990 and with sales of 750,000 so far, this new edition will be available from the 9th April.

A cornucopia of gardening TV programmes!

Four new series of gardening TV shows will be starting in the first week of January. On BBC2 The Big Allotment Challenge and The Great British Garden Revival both return for a new series. New to our screens, Sky1 introduces the competitive Show Me Your Garden and ITV1 have the Alan Titchmarsh fronted Britain's Best Gardens. Later in the year will see the return of many other shows, including Gardener's World (BBC2, March), Love Your Garden (ITV1, June) and The Beechgrove Garden (BBC, April).


Choosing hedging plants

In October we looked at how to plant a hedge, but what type of hedge should you plant? It's important to choose the right plants to use, so here are our suggestions for hedging plants depending on the type of hedge you want:

To create shelter or a noise barrier

Taxus baccataHedges are great at reducing wind and noise. Deciduous plants are less effective as they lack the density and year round shelter that evergreens provide, so if you want to maximise the barrier then try these options:

  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana – Lawson cypress (evergreen)
  • X Cupressocyparis leylandii – Leyland cypress (evergreen)
  • Ligustrum – privet (evergreen)
  • Taxus baccata – yew (evergreen), shown right
  • Thuja plicata 'Fastigata' (evergreen)
To screen part of your garden

If you want to separate your garden into different 'rooms' or hide an unattractive feature then a hedge may be an ideal solution. These hedging plants will screen off parts of your garden without becoming too large or dense:

  • Cotoneaster lacteus (evergreen)
  • Fagus sylvatica – beech (deciduous)
  • Garrya elliptica (evergreen)
  • Ilex aquifolium – holly (evergreen)
  • Pyracantha (evergreen)
For wildlife

Ilex aquifoliumThere are few planting schemes which can benefit wildlife more than a native hedge. Hedges can provide habitats, protection and food sources for all sorts of garden creatures. Keep trimming to a minimum to retain the fruit on the plants over the winter and to ensure you don't disturb nesting birds. Try some of these wildlife friendly hedging plants for your garden:

  • Berberis thunbergii (deciduous)
  • Corylus avellana – hazel (deciduous)
  • Cotoneaster lacteus (evergreen)
  • Crataegus monogyna – hawthorn (deciduous)
  • Fagus sylvatica – beech (deciduous)
  • Ilex aquifolium – holly (evergreen), shown right
  • Lavandula – lavender (evergreen)
To just look nice!

Hedges can also be attractive design elements in a garden, be they used to create topiary masterpieces (eg box), for flowers (eg Rosa rugosa) or simply to provide a backdrop for other displays (eg yew). These are some of our favourite ornamental hedges:

  • Buxus semervirens – box (evergreen)
  • Forsythia x intermedia 'Spectabilis' (deciduous)
  • Fuchsia magellanica (deciduous)
  • Potentilla fruticosa (deciduous)
  • Rosa rugosa (deciduous)
  • Taxus baccata – yew (evergreen)

Find out more about choosing and planting hedges.


What's on this month

After all the festivities you might feel like hibernating, but a bit of fresh air will do you the world of good!

  • 1st to 31st January - Free Entry, Waterperry Gardens, Nr Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
  • 14th January - Volunteer Day, Cotehele (National Trust), near Saltash, Cornwall.
  • 16th January - Winter Walk And Talk, RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey.
  • 18th January - Talk About Butchart Gardens In British Colombia, Dundee Botanic Garden, Dundee.
  • 18th January - 'Thornton Manor And The Art And Craft Of Garden Making' Talk, Ness Botanic Gardens, University of Liverpool, Ness, Cheshire.
  • 24th & 25th January - 'An Introduction To Coppicing' Course, The Lost Gardens Of Heligan, St Austell, Cornwall.
  • 28th January - 'Identifying Trees In Winter' Course, Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge.
  • 30th January - Winter Interest Walk With Head Gardener, Nymans (National Trust), near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.