Your Garden in January

Tool Maintenance

         Post-Christmas is a good time for maintaining and organising your garden tools.   There are many ways to store tools but the best solution is a simple line of hooks on a shed or garage wall.   Once you have the storage organised make sure the tools are clean and sharp.   Tools should be cleaned with a brush and water after every use, a clean spade for instance makes it much easier to work with.   To sharpen blades drip a few drops of oil on a whetstone and push the blade up the stone away from you or use a diamond tool sharpener or sharpening steel.

Mahonia

         Mahonias are dramatically architectural plants that produce long strings of dainty yellow flowers that open from late summer through winter until late March with a fragrance that’s said to resemble lily-of-the-valley, followed by blue-black berries that are favoured by blackbirds.   Most soils are suitable and they are happy in full sun or part shade.   No regular pruning is necessary but if they do need to be reduced cut back to a sideshoot after flowering.  Sometimes it may be a good idea to cut back a couple of branches each year

Hellebores

         Keep hellebores pristine by cutting back last years foliage to reveal the blooms to  their best advantage.   Removing the foliage also helps to control hellebore leaf spot fungus which causes unsightly brown scars on the leaves.   New foliage will soon emerge from the base to make a backdrop to the flowers as they continue to bloom.

Wisteria

         Check over the plant tying in any long shoots that you need to keep and replace any existing ties that are cutting into the stems.  Leave any short stubby side branches with clustered buds as these are the flowering spurs.   Cut the longer stems with long and pointed buds as these are leaf buds.  Prune all long sideshoots to just above a second or third bud.   Again in July after flowering reduce vigorous shoots to 3 -4 buds above the base.

Chillies

         Chillies need a long growing season so now is the time to start sowing seeds.   Sprinkle the seeds thinly on a seed tray or small pot using seed compost, water well and place in a heated propagator at 27C in the greenhouse or using a windowsill propagator indoors.   Seeds should germinate within 10 days and these should be grown on until they have produced at least one pair of true leaves when they can be moved on into individual pots.   These will be potted on again before being potted up into their final pots.   Feed weekly with a high nitrogen feed until the flowers form when you change to a high potash feed.

Azaleas

         Many indoor azaleas which have been given as presents will need caring for if they are to bloom again next year..   Remove any spent flowers and lightly trim the newest growth.   If the roots have filled the pot move into a slightly larger one using ericaceous compost, water regularly with rainwater and apply a liquid feed over the summer.

Bare Root Roses

         Roses are  available as bare root plants at this time of year and as they are generally purchased on line or as mail order should be unpacked on arrival and the roots soaked overnight in a bucket of water.   Enrich the soil where it is going to be planted with well rotted manure or compost.   Trim back any roots longer than 15cm and sprinkle with mycorrhizal fungi.   Plant so that the junction of roots and shoots is 5cm below soil level.   Firm the soil well and water in.   Trim back the shoots on bush roses to 8-10cm and shrub or climbing roses to 30cm.

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