What NOT to do in January

by AnneWareham on January 7, 2013

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They say (it’s all true, promise you!) :- 

Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch.

Yey! Drive the neighbours mad with the racket!! The noise any decent sized shredder  makes is excruciating. However, the jamming can be a nightmare and the resulting pile of shreddies not worth the effort of dragging the thing out of the shed from behind all that stuff….

Nah, put it out for the binmen. (or have a nice bonfire and get rid of all the stuff the binmen still haven’t been to collect)

Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days

Err..sunny days???

Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already

Do not dig. Never dig. Digging is bad for the soil. If you must indulge in pointless exercise, that is what gyms are for.

Repair and re-shape lawn edges

No! Lawn edges are an ugly nightmare. Plant something like Alchemilla mollis along the edge so that lawn and plants can sit comfortably together without ugly edges (cut Alchemilla down when it flowers and it will be back doing its job in a fortnight)

Inspect stored tubers of DahliaBegonia and Canna for rots or drying out

Err.. what do you do if they are rotting??? (go on – buy new ones and let the nursery man take the strain. (and a little profit: keep them in business)

Start forcing rhubarb

That’s a job they do better in Yorkshire too…. (cue one of those inevitable articles about rhubarb forcing by candlelight. Almost as inevitable as snowdrops)

Prepare a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect them from peach leaf curl

 What did I say about nurserymen? Include fruit growers.

 Squash mistletoe berries into apple tree branches

It’s fun but never worked for me..

Cut down old stems of sedums

What??Why sedums, specially?! Wait a few weeks then jump up and down on all the remaining dried up stems of everything.

Detail of Beech Hedge. Veddw House Garden,  Monmouthshire, South wales, copyright Charles Hawes

Clear borders and rake up leaves

Clear borders of what??? No – mulch them!

But I have a confession to make (sorry!) – those autumn leaves didn’t blow away as usual here. It rained so much that they have stayed squashed on the paths, all soggy. Might be a good idea now to rake them on to those uncleared borders – it’ll hide anything you were supposed to be ‘clearing’. Otherwise mow then up in spring..(oh, all right, I will be mowing them up in spring and mulching then. It’s not nice out there right now!)

Prune rose bushes now whilst they are dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.

Take a hedge trimmer to them. Works just as well!

You can plant bare root roses now in a sunny position for spectacular summer colour.

(off to throw up…)

If your garden is looking a bit bare try growing a winter-flowering evergreen Clematis.

Hate to tell you, but it’s a bit late now to try cheering your garden up like that.

For a more unusual bare-root plant to add to your borders now, try growing Alstromeria from bare root plants.

This is getting bonkers – Alstromeria are hard enough to establish carefully planted in the growing season from a pot. (you guessed it – these were a plant seller’s tips)

Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring.

I think Hellebore flowers look silly without their leaves.

 Avoid walking on your lawn when it is blanketed by heavy frost or snow, as this will damage the grass beneath.

I have never yet managed to damage my grass in either snow or frost by walking on it. And who can resist making the first footprints in the snow???

Start to think about your hanging baskets for this year. Order your Fuchsia, Geranium and Lobelia plants  in preparation for the busy spring period.

Eeeeek! No hanging baskets purleeese! (and I think he mean Perlagoniums. Don’t go there!)

Do stay indoors by the fire. Happy new year!

Anne Wareham  see also recent Telegraph pieces – The Garden Media Awards and the Telegraph gardening trends for 2012 

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Sara Manela January 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Where I live now, our January to-do list is as follows:

1. Watch the 2+ feet of snow come down while you sit inside with hot cocoa. (That’s 2/3 of a meter for you)
2. Take the children outside to build snowmen and go sledding down your carefully planted embankments. Try not to let them crash into the house – it ruins the paint.
3. Go back inside for more hot cocoa, with rum.
4. Laugh at your cats as they attempt to forage for catnip on the only cleared part of the yard – the brick walkway.
5. Read gardening articles about winter gardening and laugh.

AnneWareham January 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Laughing with you! And a little bit jealous of that snow..

Beth Vesseur January 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Much needed advice for me. Clear language, talkative verse. I’ve enjoyed it immensely..

AnneWareham January 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Thank you. Now do it all!!!xx

Sharon Moncur January 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Hi, Anne
You didn’t mention “inspect your tools”!

AnneWareham January 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm

That was last month! (I only go on what I find being offered out there, and didn’t see that one yet this month..)

Sharon Moncur January 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Oh, I’ve been exhorted to do it from a number of different directions, constantly throughout the winter!

Paul Steer January 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Sorry Anne, but I remember Monty showing us how to squish mistletoe berries into apple tree bark on GW, and as you know I listen to Monty so I did it about 2 years ago, and now have two small plants growing …. so it does work ! You have to listen to the voice from above. x.

AnneWareham January 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

True. The Oracle knows best..(crawls away, humbled and contrite, mistletoeless}

Russ January 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm

You are not one to mince your words are you!!
Excellent very enjoyable read.

AnneWareham January 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

We need a bit of that to wake up the garden world!

Rebecca Smith January 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

laughed out loud a day AFTER raking my paths carefully of wet horrid leaves. Also raked off the border to see the emerging snowdrops (your favourite, I know)… Glad I can rest easy until April.

AnneWareham January 8, 2013 at 10:50 am

Yeah, feet up now! I love snowdrops but get sooo fed up of endless articles about them every January! The RHS The Garden has promised there will not be one next year! A small victory…

Ioana January 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

still laughing! liked the one about the clean borders obsession!

AnneWareham January 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Well, I do hope you’re not going to start slacking now…..

barbara gingold January 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Sorry to tell you this, folks, but here at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, nothing’s fully dormant yet in my garden — and if I happened to jump up & down on my sedums now (celebrating, yes! another day of sunshine), I’d squish all the new growth just popping up. That said, I will admit that some snow is predicted for Jerusalem tomorrow. Though it’s probably just wishful thinking on the part of the weatherwoman, maybe I’ll finally have a chance to stay indoors and enjoy that cuppa hot chocolate with rum — and some more rollicking articles by Anne. Love ’em! (And thank you for turning me on to them via LinkedIn.)

AnneWareham January 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Snow in Jerusalem! Yey – time for a hot toddy then! (and I can think of some new growth I’d jump up and down on….) XXX

barbara gingold January 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

Yup, started out with the toddy, THEN went out into the raging graupel (gotcha on that one I bet! That’s what our local weather geek calls it, but known to normal people as soft hail, to foodies as tapioca snow, and to the poets — or RHS writers — among us, rimed snow. Which doesn’t mean it’s sticking or beautiful, alas, just cold & wet). Garden chores today, here in Jerusalem: Pick the bloomin’ narcissi, which are going to be knocked flat out anyway by this weather; take a photo of one lovely Algerian Iris (unguicilaris, if you must know) before it gets lost under the much-anticipated snow; toss a few stray pinecones back into the neighbo(u)rs’ yard whence they came; nab as many oxalis-bane-of-my-life as my freezing fingers will allow, then quick back into the house for another toddy. (Let’s not overdo the gardening bit no matter how crazed we are.)

AnneWareham January 9, 2013 at 10:53 am

Yep, that was quite enough for now especially since it’s clearly cold and wet out there! Love ‘tapioca snow’ …

Clare January 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Hello lovely ‘maverick garden writer’! Did no one mention dredging dead leaves from ponds – or should I have done that weeks ago? Whatever, only did it yesterday to give the prematurely amorous frogs a bit of a chance. As for the sticky wet leaves on the path – they got swept under the beech hedge from which they fell off last autumn. Had to be done – sick of slipping on the buggers every time I go down the garden to refill the bird feeder. And in the words of that cartoon, buck-toothed blue bunny “Thththththat’s all folks!” x

AnneWareham January 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm

No. no-one has got into clearing ponds yet. Yuk. Sorry about the leaves – they usually blow away …. honest….