In these dark winter days I find myself planning many things, sometimes gardens in their entirety mostly it’s planting or work schedules for the year to come but then there is the moment when the first signs of growth appear and you realise that seed sowing will soon be upon you. This week as the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse approaches (31 Jan 2018) and insomnia reigns supreme final elements of this seasons dahlia shopping has been added to the list of tasks.
Alongside our latest garden build, a lovely Japanese garden tucked in one corner of a larger plantsman’s garden, I am planning for the cut flower bounty I want to have this year. I planned in the autumn too, when I bought much of my seed (Plants of Distinction, Roger Parsons , Nicky’s Nursery, Sarah Raven, Chiltern seeds, Higgledey, Halls of Heddon ) and placed orders for more Dahlia. The Ranunculus corms have done brilliantly and held up suprisingly well to the ghastly cold, snow and ice we have had thus far, the Anemone blanda not so much, most of the 500 planted are sulking unground still. A covering of fleece will cheer them up, though me not so much if I constantly have to chase it about the place in the high winds out plot experiences!
Seed sowing will commence in Feb with Nicotiana, Tomatoes, Antirhinum and some Lisianthus all under cover, all indoor germinators, all looooong germination times. It’s a challenge not to start lots of other plants off too but from experience you can sow too early and plants get leggy and suffer in the long run. March will herald the big sow for me, alongside a second sowing of Sweet peas and biennials (Digitalis and Wallflowers). There will also be plants to move and divide in March (Iris) along with hardwood cuttings that will have started to root over winter.
On my plot this time of year is for landscaping works, moving, building, digging out, cutting down, weeding, path making, clearing out and generally keeping body and soul warm. With the plot on an exposed piece of ground rather than next to home, I garden it differently than I would if it were just outside the kitchen door. A few years ago I decided not to actively grow or work it from October until March, a rest for both of us and this has turned out to be productive for both of us too. November mulches can do their job steadily through the winter, maintenance tasks can be completed when the weather permits, I can take time to review the bones of the plot and plan for moves and changes through the coming year. There is winter pruning of the apple, quince and pear stock, weeding if the weather is mild but mostly just observing, reviewing and dreaming of a Spring.