January delivered what was to be expected I suppose, it was very soggy and spitefully cold.
Every second person you spoke to had a chesty cold that took some shaking off and the World all seemed rather drab, well at least until I spotted the Snowdrops. It brought me back to earth and then I spotted hardy cyclamen nodding under the shelter of trees. The golden spires of Mahonia Charity brought light into the dark northern border and in open space the white confetti flowers dusting my winter honeysuckle were like fairy dust. This plant has, overtime brought me great joy and I have sold it for years, but as a shrub on the shelf most of the time it can look pretty dull. If you are in need of a medium sized shrub,this plant is worth the trouble. When you are out and about this month look for it.
Enough of my musing, the new season calls, and the spring looms large. We need to get on. Onion sets, shallots and garlic can all be planted on frost free days and summer vegetable seeds can be started in trays (they will be fit for pricking out within a fortnight). Seed potatoes can be set out in a frost free place to get them sprouting with a view to planting out next month. If you fancy trying your luck pop two or three early spuds into a generous bucket of compost now. With a kind start you may have a few to harvest in about twelve weeks. If you have some shelter sow a few annuals into trays and some varieties can even be direct sown into the ground in situ. I have sprinkled in some Calendula and Californian Poppies, both of which were successful last year. Both carry flowers in sunshine shades and really cheer up spaces.
As always there is some tidying to be done and some pruning before the sap is on the move. Wisteria certainly needs bringing to order and winter flowering plants can be tackled as they finish. Be careful with your pruning and be sure you know flowering times – you will lose the blossom if you embark on the chopping of spring varieties like Forsythia. Summer subjects like roses and buddleia can be cut. If the weather offers the opportunity, then turf can be laid this month but work from a board to avoid stamping down the ground.
And finally, summer bulbs are around now and towards the end of the month lilies, dahlias and many others can be started.