Happy New Year to everyone! We do hope that you all had an absolutely fantastic Christmas holiday with family and friends. We had a super day with family, which will be much remembered!

I always use the days between Christmas and New Year to try and plan what to grow for the following season, and sitting by the fire with a pile of seed catalogues is my idea of heaven! Gardener’s are such optimists aren’t they? Some things fail, some things do better than ever hoped, but we always come back for more. I do love to challenge myself so always try something new and ‘hard to grow’, so I am going to try Echium pininana again, as I have in previous years failed to get this fabulous biennial plant (also called ‘Tower of Jewels’) through the winter into it’s flowering year. Also I am going to try Tacca chantrieri ‘Nivea’ (Cat’s Whiskers, Devil Flower or Bat Plant), for indoors. This plant is weirdly fascinating, and one I have for years wanted to try. I will let you know how I get on …

And so to plans for the New Year. I was never one to stand still so we will be smartening up our plant area, and you may have noticed the new cane and log store at the rear of the shop. We are also developing a new area for our hosta’s and ferns which will be much more shady and to their liking and give us a lot more room for other plants, so I am trying to contain my excitement. What a great excuse to spend much more time ‘plant hunting’! Watch this space for more news!!

So to January in the garden … a month of unpredictable weather. However, as the first snowdrops start to appear there are still some jobs to get on with.



  • Keep up with feeding wild birds, and make sure that they have a plentiful supply of fresh water. If we have a cold spell, replace water in trays daily. My Mama used to use a tea light under a square of bricks with a dish on top to keep the water defrosted. Remember that feeding birds now will encourage them into your garden and eat all those nasty bugs and grubs later in the year.
  • If it does get really frosty, place a small ball in your pond to prevent it freezing over. The breeze moving the ball about is the science bit as it stops the ice from forming! Any frogs hibernating in your pond will be grateful as they still need oxygen to survive.
  • Alternatively, if it has been unusually mild, you may find that some plants have stirred into life early. Some protection using bracken or fleece may be necessary if we get overnight frosts. Even laying newspaper over your plants will offer some protection. Pots can be sheltered next to a south-facing wall with a swathe of bubble wrap.
  • Check to see if any new hedging has started to ‘rock’ in the wind, and firm then in again. A good mulch underneath will also help to protect their roots.
  • It’s time to prune wisteria and roses, and cut back ornamental grasses before they spring into new growth.
  • Keep dead-heading winter pansies to prolong their flowering period.
  • Parsnips and leeks are ready to harvest (and make very nice soup!). One of our favourites is Spicy Parsnip and Pear (as Lizzy says ‘weirdly wonderful’)!
  • You can start chitting early potatoes, and even grow some under cover in a container for really early earlies! Impress your friends!
  • Place an upturned bucket or bin over the rhubarb to force it. They will then produce tender stems much earlier that usual.
  • If you are starting seed sowing this month, try using an electric propagator. I find it greatly increases the germination rate, and seeds come up much more quickly. Try to avoid over-sowing, or sow in succession for a regular supply of flowers and veg through the summer months.
  • Try to avoid walking on the lawn if it is frosty or covered in snow as this will kill the grass beneath. Sounds like a very good excuse to put your feet up with a cup of tea and the seed catalogues, or garden planning book. Plan vegetable plots so that you rotate the different crops every year. As a general rule brassicas follow legumes (peas and beans) and onions and roots; legumes, onions and roots follow potatoes; and potatoes follow brassicas. This helps to increase fertility and ensure that any disease in the soil is removed.
  • Either shred your Christmas tree or take it to a centre for shredding.
  • Clean patios and decks with a pressure washer to remove moss and slime.


  • Send the lawnmower and strimmer off for servicing! Don’t forget that mower blades, and other tools can be sharpened here at the Shop. Next visits by our lovely sharpening man on Wednesday 31st January, Wednesday 7th March and Wednesday 4th April