Author: Janine Winlaw

Garden Talk: Your January to do list

Giving the garden a tidy up, on a nice bright day, is a good way to start the year. Even in mid winter there’s plenty to do from pruning to planting – and any work put in now will pay off when the busier spring season arrives. Prune: Prune tatty looking perennials left for winter interest such as sedum – avoiding new growth. And remove old hellebore leaves to make flowers more visible. Cutback ornamental grasses to within a few cm of the ground before the new growth arrives Many deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges such as beech and hornbeam can also be pruned throughout the dormant period. (Exceptions are evergreens, tender plants and prunus species (cherries, plums, and apricots) as it makes them more susceptible to infection). Cut roses back just above an outward facing bud and remove crossing or dead braches and thin weak stems – I remove branches thinner than a pencil. Prune to the height you want creating an almost vase like shape with an open centre. Prune apple and pear …

The Gardener’s Tool Kit 

Having the right tools really can turn gardening from a chore to a pleasure. So if you fancy putting something gardening-related on your New Year wish-list or are thinking of buying a present for a green-fingered friend, take your pick from these “must have” tools. Secateurs  This is key for most gardeners – a sharp, good quality pair will make all the difference to pruning and harvesting herbs and flowers. I like Felco, which last a lifetime if you look after them, but thereare many other good varieties. For those with weak hands or arthritis, ratcheting pruners are a great choice. Try to buy quality, keep them clean and dry them if they get wet, so they don’t rust. Gardening gloves Protect your hands from mud and thorns with a good pair of gloves. Make sure they fit snuggly, particularly for fiddly jobs like tying in climbers. Bamboo gloves are light and stretchy, as are Showa Floreo. Thermal gardening gloves are cosy for winter and if you’re pruning roses leather is best. Hand trowel and …

Winter window boxes

Now’s the time to smarten up window boxes for the winter season. Here’s how: Make a plan A visit to your local garden centre is a great way to get inspiration, but do some planning first. Measure your container for a rough idea of how many plants to buy. And think about the style and colour of your house – exterior and interior – you might fall for an orange plant, but will it clash from inside your sitting room? Thrillers, spillers, fillers You could block plant a simple row of white cyclamen or dusky pink heather– contemporary and stylish. But for more variety, it’s useful to think ‘thrillers’, tall evergreen plants for structure, ‘spillers’ like ivy to trail down containers and ‘fillers’, for the gaps. Compact evergreen shrubs such as pretty small-leaved hebes make good structural ‘thrillers’ as does Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ – go for symmetry here, one or three. For something bright and festive Skimmia japonica ‘Nymans’ has jolly red berries, Gaultheria Procumbens pink ones and Solanum Capsicastrum has cheery orange …

Give your garden the autumn wow factor

The warmth of summer may be a distant memory, but autumn can be a spectacular month – especially on those bright clear days when everything glows. It’s a joy to see autumn trees in the park or countryside but there are plenty of smaller trees and shrubs that’ll light up your own garden with fiery shades of red and gold. There are shiny hips and berries a plenty in October too. Here’s my pick. Trees My new favourite tree for autumn colour is Parrotia Persica (Persian ironwood) whose large leaves turn from yellow to brilliant orange and pink– followed by clusters of bright red flowers. It also has striking grey peeling bark when mature and looks particularly stylish as a multi-stem. It’s spreading and can eventually get quite big (up to 6m) so it does need space. Amelanchier lamarckii is a smaller and more easily sourced tree that is also grown as a multi- stem. As well as stunning golden orange autumn leaves, it has white spring blossom and summer berries. Similarly acers (Japanese maple) …

Garden Talk: September’s star performers

Keep the colour glowing in your garden into autumn with these late flowering beauties… Anemone x hybrid ‘September Charm’ These elegant flowers, which rise up on long stems from a mass of large leaves, will brighten up the garden from late summer until early autumn. A. ‘September Charm’ is a pretty rosy pink and A. ‘Honorine Jolbert’ is a crisp white – both have gorgeous sunny golden centres. Happy in sun and shade – they’re a must. Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’  With a mass of pale blue daisy-like flowers, this is another perennial to lighten up the early autumn months. A. ‘Little Carlow’ is another reliable variety with lavender blue flowers. Best in full sun. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ Of all the geraniums G. ‘Rozanne’ is one of the latest flowering. If you keep deadheading this useful geranium with large pale purple flowers, it’ll bloom into autumn. Happiest in an open sunny spot where it’ll form a large spreading mound. Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ i Large golden daisies with black eyes they shine out against purples …