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Posted on 1st April, 2023
After last year's extreme temperatures, including thesnow and deep freeze we encountered in December, Irealised that this year would be a good time to reviewparts of the gardens I manage. Though many plants seemto be completely devastated, including some establishedPhormiums and Cordylines (which only take a drop to -
5⁰C), I’m hoping that some will come back in the Spring.
At the moment I’m leaving many things alone rather thancutting anything back to prevent any further stress to theplants. Though it does look unsightly, I’ve found theyhave a better chance of recovery if left. If not, it’s anopportunity to redesign that area.Devastated phormium!This year I’m taking a slightly different approach and producing most plants from seed. Apartfrom the fact that it isn’t such a financial hit if anything is lost through drought or cold, it is areally great thing to be able to produce a stunning display of flowers or veg that you’veproduced yourself from start to finish, though it does require some extra time and a bit morespace.For those of us who want to get a good start on the year, it is still too early to sow somethings outdoors, but lots can be sown inside. February is one of the busiest times in theGardener’s calendar, but I think also one of the most enjoyable. I love spending hours holedup in the greenhouse when it’s all cold outside, starting all the seeds for this year! Thoughlast March we were hit with unseasonal heat, which killed a lot of the seedlings, so it’s alwaysworth keeping an eye on temperatures which could go either way.
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In the Veg Patch
Broad bean ‘The Sutton’ can be sown outdoors at a depth of 2” and 6” between plantsminimum. Potatoes can start to be chitted in egg boxes on a windowsill or light space, readyto plant out next month. The larger ones can be cut in half or even thirds to give you more!March and April may still give frosts, so these will need protection once outside.Cloches can be put over ground to warm it up beforeplanting seeds. Horticultural fleece is a must have in mysupplies and laying this over areas to be planted warmsthe soil in advance of carrots, parsnips etc being sown.I’ve also used floor insulation, whatever works!Otherwise there are many things to be sownindoors.Tomatoes, peppers and chillis, cucumber, herbsand salad leaves can be started, as can spinach, ready tobe transplanted out when the weather is kinder.
In the borders
From nothing to everything to do! If like me, you are seeding flowers off, there are manyamazing things that can be sown now, again indoors or in a heated greenhouse. As last yearwas so ridiculously dry, I’ll be concentrating more on drought-tolerant varieties to createimpact and hopefully require little more than deadheading.Geraniums, gazania, begonia, nasturtiums and marigolds are a staple show in Summer,working both in borders and pots and baskets and will take dry conditions. And there areloads of beautiful annuals and perennials that add a real blaze of colour to borders. Scabious,Echinacea, Verbena Bonariensis and Osteospermum are all favourites of mine, and I loveCosmos, with its dainty feathery leaves! There are so many different varieties of everythingnow, it’s easy to find something that will fit into whatever colour scheme you plant to, andthere is a lot more choice with seeds.Dahlia and Canna tubers and lily bulbs can be potted up, but do still keep these under cover. Ibring mine on in the greenhouse until all risk of frost has passed before putting these outside.If you do find yourself running out of space with all the indoor creations, don’t worry! In justa month things can be seeded directly outside. Antirrhinum, Aquilegia and poppies scatteredthrough the flower beds look great as random sowings in any spare patches you may have!

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