January Hints and Tips


Reasons to be Cheerful

The shortest day has been and gone and the daily period of light has, almost imperceptibly, increased.  The infra-red wavelengths penetrate the soil and activate enzymes, via chemicals called phytochromes, that start seeds and dormant plants growing.

Witch hazel, Sarcococca, Daphne odora and Mahonia are just some of the scented flowers you can enjoy now.  Wintergreen ferns give a wonderful textured foliage effect in sheltered shady spots, so do the leaves of Cyclamen hederafolia and Pulmonaria.  Cyclamen coum flowers in early spring and combines well with winter aconites or snowdrops. (The peak flowering time for most snowdrops is February, but varieties like Galanthus elwessii, G.nivalis and G.woronowii are earlier.)

Jobs to do

Kitchen garden Prune gooseberries, red and white currants to maintain an open centred bush with 8 – 10 main branches – this avoids mildew. Prune last year’s growth by half.  Finish winter pruning of fruit trees (except plums and cherries).  Continue harvesting winter vegetables like parsnips and Brussels sprouts.

Ornamental garden Start pruning Wisteria.  The current season’s growth, tamed in July, should be cut back to 2-3 buds from old wood.  If the old wood is tangled or overgrown, cut it back to a fork or side branch, maybe back to ground level.

Start cutting old leaves from ornamental grasses to make room for new growth. Also cut off old leaves on hellebores to expose the flowers, unless grown for foliage effect.

Prune winter jasmine when the flowers fade.

Plant deciduous hedges like beech, hornbeam, blackthorn and hawthorn.


Feed Christmas flowering Hippeastrum (amaryllis) to build up the bulbs for next year.  Start ‘chitting’ early potatoes by placing them in egg-boxes in a cool light position. Sow begonias, lobelia, salvia, pelargonium and sweet peas in pots on a windowsill, cold frame or greenhouse.

The year ahead for the Church Crookham Garden Society

We have provisionally booked the halls for the following dates, but, at the moment, it seems unlikely that any events can take place until after Easter.

AGM and quiz: 26th February, Spring Show and seed swap: 27th March,  Annual Show: 21st August, Harvest Supper: 8th October

The trading shed will open on Saturday 13th February with social distancing precautions in place. That is, orders placed by text or email to Alec and collected by appointment from the shed.