A snip in time may save nine in heat of summer

A snip in time may save nine in heat of summer | In Fiona's Garden

Life & Style
Even when pruned every year, lavender becomes overgrown and woody after about five years and needs replacing.

Even when pruned every year, lavender becomes overgrown and woody after about five years and needs replacing.

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A few things gardening jobs done now will make life easier later.

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JANUARY is the month for enjoying the garden.

The most beautiful times are early morning and late evening when the sun is low.

It's too hot to be outside after 8am and this is your clue to a successful summer garden: it needs shade, not a big lawn to mow, and simple flowers like agapanthus, daylilies (Hemerocallis) and pokers (Kniphofia) that won't wilt in the heat.

A few things done now will make life easier later. Pull out dead spring annuals, save seed, cut back long wisteria feelers, trim abelia hedges, cut catmint back hard to flower again in autumn.

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If you didn't prune your once-flowering, potentially ginormous, yellow banksia rose (Rosa banksiae lutea) after it bloomed, this is a good time to do it.

Remove the longest, oldest stems and trim remaining ones by about half. This allows them to produce new shoots to flower next spring, banksia roses bloom on the previous season's growth.

Once flowering climbing roses like the pure white, single Cherokee rose (R. laevigata) can be cut back now and long canes tied in.

Prune all lavenders that have finished flowering in January. Even when conscientiously pruned, lavender becomes overgrown and woody after about five years, so it's handy to have new plants coming along.

January is the month for propagating winter flowering daphnes (D.odora, D. x hybrida). Cuttings of half-ripe wood, about seven to 10 centimetres long, stripped of all but two or three leaves will strike in six to eight weeks.

Rooting hormones help to produce bigger roots, but TBH daphne is extremely easy from cuttings, so don't over stress.

Check the bases of pots of the cuttings that you took last spring of your favourite shrubs. Tell-tale white roots indicate they are big enough to pot up individually.

In cooler districts, January is the month for sowing brassicas, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers. Just like ornamental foxgloves and honesty, brassicas are biennial, meaning they take two seasons to grow and flower.

They produce leaves during their first summer, hibernate over winter and bloom the following summer

However, brassicas don't need to reach their second season as we eat them when they're immature: a plump ball of tightly packed cabbage leaves, the flower buds that make up the heads of cauliflower and broccoli.

If you sow seed in January, you can plant out the seedlings in March and they will be fully grown and ready to harvest and eat by May.

Sown later, winter will halt your plants' growth before they're big enough to harvest, then they'll bolt to seed in spring and you miss out on the edible stage.

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