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The camellias are in bloom already and the snowdrops and hellebores are starting to make an appearance, not in the swathes that will line the drive and pathways in February, but slowly one-by-one, adding colour to the cheeks and fleshing out the bare bones of Winter.

Now is the time for preparation and planning and to give you a few ideas for jobs to be doing in January, Danny our gardener, has listed a few he’ll be ticking off his list over the new few weeks.

Cleaning
Clean pots and root trainers ready for sowing sweet peas in February. We’ll be cleaning the glass houses too with warm soapy water and a fair bit of elbow grease.

Over Wintering Dahlias
Check dahlia tubers and cut away any rotten bits, dusting them with sulphur powder as you go.

Forcing Rhubarb
For an early harvest of tender stems that don’t need peeling, now is the time to force rhubarb. As soon as they start showing signs of growth, cover the crowns with a large pot or container, (covering any holes) and 5 – 8 weeks time your efforts will be rewarded.  Remove the stems by gently twisting and pulling away from the base, and remember to discard the leaves before eating (they contain oxalic acid and are poisonous).

Pruning
There’s still time to prune apple and pear trees, shrubs and roses. We’ll be cutting back the leaves of hellebores too as they can harbour a fungal infection which causes black spots on the leaves, as well as hiding the emerging buds and flowers.  Remove old leaves as close to the base as possible.

Mulching
It’s not too late to mulch beds and borders in preparation for the next job in hand, and probably the best job of them all:

Planning
One of the best sounds to be heard in January, other than the trill of bird song, is the thud of the seed catalogue arriving through the post box. Glossy pages filled with endless promise and choice with a few new names in the mix. Make a list as you go, whittling it down to something more manageable and what you actually have space for. This year, we’ll be ordering sweetpeas, cosmos and a selection of cut flowers and vegetables for the kitchen garden. It’s still ‘work in progress,’ but we’ll share our favourite picks in the coming weeks once the list has been revised and edited. We don’t want to rush it as it’s nice to dream!

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