Winter gardening articles abound with sparkling images of snow covered trees and frosted grasses and today in Kent was just one of those days but the reality is more often just dank and cold offering little incentive to venture outside. How much better to do your ‘gardening’ inside this month and cheer yourself up browsing seed catalogues for hardy annuals and summer bedding. Even a low maintenance garden has room for seasonal colour but if for you, like me, the phrase Summer Bedding conjures up Victorian floral clocks then containers are the ideal solution. Either way, a little preparation helps you narrow down the hundreds of plants on offer. Choose a colour scheme for each bed or container and decide on the range of heights. Take a spare copy of a seed catalogue and cut out pictures of plants that match your requirements. Then let loose your ‘inner child’ (or even a real child) and make a collage, trying out different plant combinations. Remember that coloured foliage is not limited to shrubs and you can make superb colour contrasts mixing the leaves of one plant with the flowers of another. Even in seasonal plants the leaves last much longer than the flowers and leaf shape and texture add sustained interest.
Seeds are a rewarding and economical way of populating your garden particularly if you have wide open spaces to fill while permanent shrubs and perennials mature. Hardy annuals can be sown in early spring where they are to flower. Half-hardies need to be sown in pots or trays, potted on and kept under cover until all risk of frost is passed. If you only want a few plants or have nowhere to grow seeds then the alternative is to wait and buy tiny ‘plug’ plants in spring.
Seed catalogues are a great way to identify the plants you want to grow, accompanied of course by a mug of tea and the odd chocolate biscuit.
Happy Gardening, Alison