Gardening with James Vaughan: Time to start planning for the year ahead

James Vaughan


James Vaughan


Gardening with James Vaughan: Time to start planning for the year ahead

It is nice to see the days stretch even a tiny amount and to know that the long days of summer are not too far away. Each year the seasons can be measured by the ebb and flow of plants coming into and out of flower. As many readers will know, one of the first plants to flower in the new year are Snowdrops.

Although measuring only a couple of inches in height, these are very intricate flowers when viewed close-up.

The flowers gently nod downwards - this is to assist and provide a little protection to the pollinating insects needed to produce seed. In our garden our Snowdrops have pushed up though the surface and are getting ready to flower.

Lifting and dividing herbaceous plants

A job that I have been doing plenty of lately is lifting and splitting my herbaceous perennials. Herbaceous Perennials are plants such as Sedum, Rudbeckia, Aster, Crocosmia and Nepeta. Herbaceous Perennials are plants which grow every year but never get woody- unlike trees and shrubs. In winter the plants die down to roots below ground. In the spring these plants sprout shoots, and these continue to grow and provide summer flowers.

If plants are chosen correctly you can ensure that you have colour in your garden from March right up until November.
For your own reference, Aster are probably the last Herbaceous Perennial to flower each year-flowering as late as November.

My all-time favourite Herbaceous Perennial is Nepeta (cat mint) and the variety is ‘Six Hill Giant’.

It is a tough, low growing plant with masses of blue flowers all summer long. All herbaceous plants can be split after they form large enough clumps. This is also a way of obtaining extra plants for free.

Jobs in the Vegetable Garden

If you are on-schedule with your vegetable garden then you will have been looking at seed catalogues. This is the time of year to start planning for the year ahead in the garden and in the veg patch. The risk of frost is still great and will continue to be so for the next few months.

The dry weather earlier this week has made it ideal for preparing vegetable beds in readiness for planting. If you wish, in a few weeks you could also plant veg seeds either in a glasshouse or on a sunny windowsill. This will ensure you get a little bit ahead of the weather.

For a beginner, the easiest vegetables to grow from seeds are: Spring Onion, Radish and Beetroot.

Simply sow the seeds in compost in shallow trays. Keep the seed trays covered until the seeds germinate. Once germinated, move the seedlings into a light filled windowsill. Keep seedlings moist until ‘true’ leaves appear. These are the second pair of leaves to appear.

Once the ‘true’ leaves appear they are safe to move to larger pots. Once the soil is ready for planting, plant the young plants out.

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