Easy ways to reduce lawn maintenance and getting the greenhouse ready for spring sowing and potting with Martin Fish - garden writer, broadcaster and advisor.
The first snowdrops of the season are always a welcome sight and regardless of the winter weather they never fail to push through the cold soil and delight us with their dainty white flowers.
So far this winter the weather has been very mild indeed and we have had far fewer frosty days than in previous winters.
However, we still have February to come and the weather could suddenly turn very cold and return us to a proper winter.
In fact a farming friend of mine thinks we are due a blast of cold weather from the east, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens?
Although the snowdrops are flowering at their normal time, the mild weather has caused many other plants to flower out of season.
I have heard from people with geraniums and nasturtium still flowering in their gardens.
In my own garden the one rose bush that wasn’t half-pruned back in November is trying its hardest to flower and only last week I picked a small bunch of pinks (dianthus) out of the garden and brought them into the house.
All of these plants should have finished flowering last October or November, but the mild weather has meant they have carried on growing.
Winter flowering shrubs such as jasmine, viburnum and the lovely winter flowering honeysuckle are all doing very well and producing an abundance of flowers, helped on by the mild weather.
All in all it’s a strange winter from a gardening point of view with plants growing and flowering out of season.
However, if we do get a cold, frosty February the unseasonal flowering plants will suddenly stop, but I can guarantee that the good old snowdrop will continue to flower for the next month or so, totally unhindered by the weather, whatever it throws at us.
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Lack of winter sunshine, mild and wet weather has resulted in lots of green slime and algae on paths, patios, sheds and greenhouses – in fact just about everything outside is green!
To prepare for the new growing season now is a good time to clean paths and patios using a path cleaner to kill the algae.
If you have a greenhouse or polytunnel it is also a good idea to wash the glass or polythene to remove the green film.
If not removed it will reduce the natural light getting to your plants when you start growing in spring.
If you don’t have snowdrops or winter aconites growing in your garden but would like some, at this time of the year garden centres and nurseries will have them growing and flowering in pots.
Once planted in the garden they will establish very quickly and remain for years to come.
Make sure that any newly planted climbing plants have something to climb up when they start into growth in the spring.
Clematis and honeysuckle like to scramble through netting or trellis and will happily support themselves.
Climbing roses on the other hand will need their new growth tying to wires or trellis to keep them in place.
Trellis or wires will need firmly fixing to walls and fences before growth starts.