We’re under starters orders and still pondering over what the weather is going to throw next. Is it possible, that I am already scribbling notes for the February gardener? January has been weird, in the main cold and very wet. It is amazing how in just a few months we have gone from scorched to saturated. As expected, December’s cold weather has been destructive, with all sorts of things just melting. Lots of peas and beans have rotted and even spring cabbage plants have been wiped out. We can still manage a bit of repair work. Pea and Bean seed can be replaced, though ideally with later varieties, Aquadulce Broad Beans can still be used, but are likely to be slow. If you still seek a bit of spring cabbage, then run in a bit of seed. April is a good, small hearted cabbage. It grows quite quickly (though doesn’t tend to bolt) and can be harvested early as a leaf green. It doesn’t take much space either. In the borders I have spotted several shrubs that are unhappy with their lot, most notably in my garden a beautiful evergreen Pittosporum that has dropped every leaf. I will resist the temptation to cut back or dig it out until late March. Trees and shrubs may recover but nothing will happen until the ground warms and the sap starts to rise. Although the ground is wet, you can still consider planting and certainly deciduous trees and shrubs can be newly planted or relocated in the next few weeks. This month you can set out garlic, onions and rhubarb in the ground and if you have shelter or a windowsill you can start playing with seed. Many annuals and vegetables can be started in the month ahead. If you have a greenhouse, then you can even get a pinch of Tomato seed underway. We used to grow plants cold from early April under glass, so started on a windowsill now, they will be ready.
And finally I do enjoy the diversity of bulbs.For many years I have been looking for some Acidanthera, a spectacular member of the gladioli family. It carries large pure white star shaped flowers up meter long stems with each flower carrying a bold red blotch at it’s heart. The bulbs can be planted in a border or clumped in a generous pot. This year I have found some and will plant them very soon.