Homes and Gardens n

Looking ahead to the early spring

We may still be in the deepest of deep mid-winter but this is an ideal time to start thinking ahead to the coming spring. The gardening experts at Hadlow College offer this advice...

You may be asking yourself at this time of year: should I prepare for a quiet period in the garden? Yes and no. Now is an excellent time to draw up a plan for the coming year. Think of what seeds you want to plant and when they will need sowing. Some vegetables like tomatoes and peppers need sowing early under protection if you want to get a good crop for the coming season - and when the spring rush is on, it’s good to have a plan to work to. Seed potatoes are available in stores from this time, allowing plenty of time to ‘chit’ prior to planting, ensuring a heavier crop.

Borders - Get ahead of the game and ensure beds are weed free, dug over and mulched to help supress weeds, retain moisture and make your borders easier to work.

bluebells. Daffodils, tulips and crocus are also available.

Short lived perennials - Towards the end of January/February, Lupins, Hollyhocks and Foxgloves become available. These need planting early to ensure a wonderful summer display, so make a plan of where you want these, for a lovely cottage garden effect.


Hellebores – are a star performer at this time of year. When most other plants are still dormant, they produce a wonderful display of flowers against all the odds. Ideal in partial shade, they will tolerate full sun if they don’t dry out too much. Plant with lots of organic matter to help retain moisture and give them a good boost to start growing.


Clematis – mid season and late flowering ones need pruning now. The large flowered varieties that start flowering May/June such as Nelly Moser should be pruned back to a healthy pair of buds, whilst smaller, later flowering varieties such as your viticellas need pruning back to 30-60cm. Spring flowering montanas and alpinas should be left till after flowering. It is also a good time to prune fruit

trees and deciduous hedges, before the birds start to nest in March.

Native primroses and cowslips - Available to buy in January/February, these are a must for any garden, usually coming into flower in March. The beauty of these are that they self-seed easily and large groups can soon be formed.

Spring bulbs - Don’t worry if you forgot to plant these in the autumn, they are available in pots, ensuring a good success rate and a wonderful splash of spring colour. This may include items such as Anemone blanda, which is excellent for under planting round trees, as are snowdrops and

Summer bulbs – There are a vast range of summer bulbs available and many, like Begonia and Dahlia, will benefit from starting off early. These come in a vast array of colours, sizes and habits, so read the label carefully so you can get the right effect for your garden.

For further information visit: www.

Mid Kent Living 45

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