Gardener’s Corner: January 2024

January usually begins mild, wet and windy and tends to get colder towards mid-month. The signs of spring greet the garden team when we return to work. Between our last day on the 22nd of December and our first day back in early January, lots of snowdrops have appeared, early daffodils are flowering and the winter borders are abundant with colour and scent.

The sweet box ‘Sarcococca’ will be flowering and releasing its sweet scent, and the winter sweet ‘Chimonanthus’ has been flowering since December and it is particularly beautifully perfumed. Witch hazels ‘Hamamelis’ are spreading deciduous shrubs with spidery-like flowers that come in just about every colour and shade to brighten the darkest January day. The best colours, however, are produced by dogwoods ‘Cornus’ and if caught by late afternoon sunshine they look particularly striking.

‘Midwinter Fire’ is my favourite, it is tough and reliable and produces bright reds, golds and yellows from December until early April. We have planted a bank of them at the back of the new winter border and when the Wells border is cleared and pruned they should look particularly impressive when viewed from the well pool.

December was very wet and very mild so we will have some catching up to do in January. During the milder spells, we will cut all the lawns to tidy the garden and remove the last of the leaves. I will finish any cutting of the yew hedges. The other tasks can be carried out providing the ground is not frozen! Clearing the herbaceous growth and leaves from the beds and borders, pruning all the roses and the quince trees ‘Cydonia’ in the Phelps Garden. Any moat banks that require strimming will be finished as soon as possible to avoid any damage to the spring bulbs. If the weather permits us we will also mulch with mushroom compost the cleared borders and apply some organic fertiliser/rose feed first.

From all of the Garden Team, we hope you have a lovely Christmas and New Year. We look forward to seeing you in 2024.

James Cross, Head Gardener

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