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January 2015 Newsletter
Happy New Year! Welcome to the brand new Unwins January Newsletter. We hope you hand a great festive holiday and that you’re ready for a brand new gardening season. This month we’ve crammed in some essential gardening hints and tips for you to crack on withover January.
Whether you want some heavy digging or a bit of crafty decoration there are some top jobs for January. We give you some advice on how to make the most of winter flowering scented shrubs plus how to protect your tender plants from frost damage. We’ll tell you what to sow and plant now as well as what’s looking good, so you can get your garden looking top notch! Also don’t forget to enter our competition to win some brand new seeds and a voucher to spend on site.
If you didn’t plant indoor bulbs last autumn there’s still things you can do to brighten your home up. There are plenty of exciting things out there if you look hard enough like evergreen foliage such as holly or bay which can be usedas a foundation to create a wonderful floral display inside. Holly berries, Rose hips and similar add a splash of vibrant colour and you could always add twigs from winter flowering shrubs for extra impact too.Your other option is to bring in some flowers from your garden. It’s still a bit early for daffodils to flower but they should be poking through the ground shortly, if they haven’t already. If you’ve had your daffodils planted for several years they will have multiplied quite a bit by now and if you can spare them you could dig some up and pot them up to bring inside. The extra heat of your home should help them come along quicker than they would if left outside.
One of the most popular flowers over the Christmas period is Hippeastrumor Amaryllis but more often than not people will just buy a new bulb every year. It’s perfectly possible to keep your bulb after it’s finished and make it flower for next year. It could be that your Hippeastrumis still in flower but when it’s finished here is what you can do to.
- When individual flowers start to withers cut them off so that the plant does not waste energy forming seeds.
- When all flowers have finished, cut the stem back to two inches above the bulb. Don’t remove any leaves.
- Keep it in a well lit room, out of direct sunlight, Water if and when necessary. You may notice more leaves appearing.
- When summer comes you can plant it out in a sunny, well draining spot in your garden or patio. Sink the pot into your garden because they don’t like to be transplanted but rather like being pot bound.
- When summer ends, you’ll notice some of the leaves turning yellow. This is normal and you should cut them back when they start to fade. Leaves any leaves that don’t fade.
- Bring the bulbs indoors before the first frost and store them in a cool (12°C), dimly lit room for 6-8 weeks. Don’t water during this period.
- 6-8 weeks before you want it to flower again you should:
o Remove any dead material around the neck of the bulb
o Refresh the top inch of compost in your pot
o Water once and move to a warm room
o Do not water again until you can see active growth
As well as planting bare root rose bushes, now is the perfect time to replant existing roses. You might have planted a rose last year that is not performing up to expected standards and there could be numerous reasons why. It’s best to consider all possibilities as to why your rose isn’t flourishing before you move it.
Position them in a sunny spot protected from strong, cold or drying winds. Give them plenty of space so that they’re not crowded. The soil should be fairly deep and rich in organic matter. It should retain moisture but not be waterlogged. Roses are very hungry plants. Feed them well in spring and again when they begin to flower later in the year. Adding a mulch in spring and again in autumn is a good idea too. Water well and regularly in the first year. When roses mature they should be able to find enough water for themselves. Remove any flower when it fades to prolong flowering. The correct pruning should be carried out too to help with general maintenance and blooming.
For most of us greenhouses are essential for sowing and growing on our own plants, giving them the perfect environment before they are planted out in the garden, so it’s worth giving them a bit of TLC this time of year in preparation for the new season. It’s not the most exciting gardening jobs, but clearing your gutters, washing the glass to clear algae and moss will improve the growing environment, helping you to produce a better crop.
Remove all plants from inside your greenhouse and put them somewhere sheltered. This might seem like a bit of an effort, but by doing this you’ll have easy access to every corner and every pane of glass, plus you don’t want to be working around pots and tubs which can be trip hazards. Sweep up any plant debris which could harbour overwintering pests and diseases and wash the slabs and the whole inside with hot disinfectant. Wash the outside of your greenhouse and clear out any algae that has formed between the glass. Finally replace any broken panes and tighten any loose fittings.
Pruning almost any deciduous tree and shrub can be done now, in the dormant period but for obvious reason avoid any that are in flower now. There are a few reasons to prune now.
- It’s the dormant season so the plants are not in active growth.
- To encourage new growth and enhance flowering.
- Neaten up the general appearance of the plant.
- To remove any diseased, damage or dead material
The first thing to look at is if your tree or shrub needs pruning. Many young plants are best left for a few seasons before you prune them as this helps with establishment. If you have established plants remove the three D’s (Dead, Diseased and Damaged wood). Next you want to create a good framework, try and open up the middle of the shrub to allow good airflow, by removing any crowded branches from the centre. There are a few plants that have special pruning requirements so it’s best to check your plant label first. If uncertain always refer to gardening books or online resources.
January can seem like a very bleak month in the garden and aside from evergreen foliage there isn’t much colour about. However there are certain shrubs which flower this time of year, bringing joy and hope for the year ahead. Of those that do flower there are a select few which also provide scent and these are truly glorious. Scent seems much more special in the winter, simply because it’s not expected and just a little sniff of fragrance can send you off on an adventure around your garden to find the source. They’re beautiful in so many ways and so every garden should have at least one winter scented shrub.
How to Grow
Winter flowering shrubs require no special treatment when it comes to planting just treat them as an ordinary potted or bare root shrub, however position is key. These tips will help you make the most of your winter scented flowering shrubs. Read more
- Plant stronger scented shrubs further back in the border and more subtly scented shrubs closer to the front.
- Scented shrubs are perfect for planting by paths because as you walk past them you get a full blast of fragrance.
- Plant them in containers positioned near your doorway to great guests as they enter your home.
- If you have a large garden plant numerous winter scented shrubs throughout to help draw your nose further into the garden.
- Think about using winter scented shrubs in a wildlife garden. They attract Bees and provide them with a good source of food when they come out of hibernation.
- Although winter scented shrubs are great, lots of them can be very over powering in a small garden so think about selecting just a few if you have limited space.
- Think about continuity. Plant them with spring, summer and autumn flowering shrubs to make a display last all year round.
Plants to try
Hamamelis mollis– Also known as Witch Hazel,it has spidery perfumed flowers that appear on bare branches. They light up the winter garden when colour and scent are in short supply.
Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn'– Produces clusters of fabulously pretty flowers which appear on bare stems throughout the winter. You can often smell this gorgeous shrub well before you spot it!
Daphne mezereum– Has scented cerise flowers that smother bare stems in late winter followed by fresh green foliage and scarlet summer berries. A shrub for all seasons!
Frost damage can devastate a crop as much as an infestation of pests or disease and can effect any none hardy plant, especially if young or tender. Luckily there are a few simple precautions which can help you protect your plants and crops.
Ground frost occurs when temperatures in the soil drop below zero. Repeated freezing and thawing causes massive root damage especially with container plants. Either bring tender plants under protection or lift and wrap your pots with bubble-wrap. Read more
In areas that are exposed frost damage can be made worse by strong drying winds. Creating shelter in the form of a windbreak such as a hedge should reduce wind damage in winter. Temporary windbreaks can be erected out of posts and fleece.
Beware of frost pockets. These are areas of low ground which cool air flows into. If you have frost pockets in your garden move any susceptible plants up hill or into protection.
Heat your tender greenhouse plants using greenhouse heaters and protect your outdoor plants and crops with fleece protection. Any small potted plants can be moved under a cold frame which protects them from the worst frost and winter wet.
At this time of year it’s cold and dark outside but there are a handful of plants which you can start off now in a greenhouse or plant outside now. All bare root plants, such as roses and perennials, can be planted now as long as the ground isn’t frozen. With the help of a greenhouse heater you can start a good number of other plants like Sweet Peas, Foxgloves and Begonias. Take a closer look at the chart to see a few other plants that you can so and grow now.
We’re in the height of the winter bedding season at the moment so Pansies and Violas take centre stage. They look fantastic when planted in mass and if you’ve not grown them before, why not have a go at growing them from seed. Order your seed now, sow them in February and plant out later in the year for a display in spring or even summer. That’s one of the great things about Pansies or Violas, you can grow them for a display almost all year round. Have a look around parks and gardens to see how they’ve been displaying them and if you like the look why not recreate it in your own garden. Read more
There are plenty of flowering shrubs to choose from too. We’ve looked at Hamamelis, Viburnum and Daphne, but there are loads more to choose from and although they don’t all have scent they’ll create a big impact in your garden. Mahonia is a large structural evergreen shrub with tall spikes of flowers. 'Charity' and 'Lionel Fortescue' are two good varieties to try. If you thought that Jasmine was just for summer, think again. Jasminum nudiflorum, or the winter Jasmine, has vivid yellow flowers on bright green leafless stems and is perfect trained against a wall. For something will a little more structure and longevity try flowering cherries. Prunus ‘Pendula Rubra’ and Prunus ‘Autumnalis Rosea’ are two trees that are ideal for a small garden, growing no higher that 4m.
The new Unwins catalogue is on its way and should be with you from the 9th of January. As always it’s packed full of great varieties, traditional and new and this time around if you buy any 6 packets of Unwins seeds you get the cheapest free.
We’ve recently launched the Unwins e-Gift Voucher. These new online eGift Vouchers are the perfect gift for enthusiastic gardener in your life and will let them choose from any product in our fantastic web range.To order an e-Gift Voucher, add it to your ‘Basket’ and pay for them in the usual way. You will then receive your order confirmation email, along with a separate email containing your e-Gift voucher. You can then either forward the voucher via email to the lucky recipient or use the print friendly page to print the voucher and place in a celebratory card.
We’ve got a few new products which we’re excited about including some lovely patio Dahlias. ‘Braveheart’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘Star Wars’ are perfect for pots on your patio. They only grow to about 30cm so will fit into even a tiny garden. If you like the look of them we’ve also put together a collection containing all three, so you can create a wonderful container display.