Winter jasmine cheers up the chilly garden and heralds brighter things to come, writes GINA PARKINSON.
THE WINTER jasmine has been flowering since December in our garden. It grows against an east-facing wall. This is reached for a short while by milky winter sun that warms the stems enough for blooms to open periodically from early winter until mid-spring.
Winter jasmine or Jasminum nudiflorum is a deciduous sprawling shrub with long, lax stems that make it easy to be trained as a wall shrub. Buttery yellow flowers appear from November to February or March and bring welcome colour to a winter garden, heralding things to come as the weeks go by.
This shrub is easy to grow and will tolerate any soil and all but the deepest of shade, although flowering will be better given some sun. Flowers appear before foliage, hence the botanical name, and by early February they are in their full glory, covering the green stems in profusion.
Although the shrub is at its most arresting at this point, the bright green leaves that come as the flowers fade make a good backdrop for other plants for the rest of spring and summer. It is at this point that a bit of care needs to done to keep this otherwise undemanding shrub looking its best.
All the side shoots that have flowered can be cut back as well as about one third of the oldest stems. This will encourage the production of new stems from the base of the plant as well as help to stop it becoming congested and woody.
The new stems that are produced during the summer need to be tied into the framework regularly, avoid pruning them as it is these that will carry the flowers next year.
In the veg garden
IT IS a good time to give the compost heap some attention. Even on the coldest day it doesn’t take long to get warmed up with the effort needed. I managed to empty ours a few days ago, mixing everything up and heaving it back into place.
Unfortunately moving the compost out also revealed that the bins need replacing this year. They were made by the previous owner from wood and palettes that have gradually rotted and are now on their last legs.
THE weather has been mild so far this new year and things are beginning to happen in the garden. Shoots are popping up along branches and rosettes of tiny leaves are emerging through the soil.
Along with this welcome sight come the less welcome weeds that are taking full advantage of the bare earth to begin their annual takeover bid for the garden.
The damp soil makes it easy to pull up anything that shouldn’t be around and because it is at the beginning of the growing period weeds don’t yet have a decent root system.
Remove as much as possible by hand, hoeing will do the job but take care not to damage hidden bulb and herbaceous shoots that are just below the surface.
Lawn edges can also be tidied up, it is amazing how quickly the grass will spread into the flower beds. If the garden is soggy, stand on a plank of wood or hardboard to protect the lawn.
Couch grass can be a problem in herbaceous beds and is very difficult to eradicate. A good weed during a mild spell at this time of year will go some way to keeping it under control as the clumps of perennials it likes to grow into are still dormant or only just coming to life. This makes it much easier to spot the spikes of grass and pull up the long runners.
TWO gardening workshops will be held at Stillingfleet Lodge Nurseries next month.
The first is Growing Vegetables, to be held on Saturday February 2, with Tony Chalcraft, who has run an organic nursery in York for many years.
This course is for people who want to get more out of their vegetable garden with emphasis on Yorkshire conditions. He will look at 20 main crops, crop rotation, plant succession and dealing with pests and diseases.
The second workshop is Pruning an Apple Tree with owner of Stillingfleet Lodge Nursery Vanessa Cook on Tuesday February 12. This is a hands-on course with Vanessa showing how to prune a variety of apple trees to ensure good crops of fruit.
Stillingfleet Lodge Garden has been run organically for 30 years and has previously been short listed for The Press Green Business Award.
It is open to the public at certain times over the year and is well worth a visit. For more information and to book a place on either of the courses please contact stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk/workshops.htm#veg1
Gardening TV and radio
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
9am, BBC Radio York, Mark Forrest. With gardening advice from Nigel Harrison, Martin Fish and Lizzie Tulip.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Matthew Biggs, Bunny Guinness, Christine Walkden and chairman Eric Robson help gardeners from Essex.
pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Chairman Peter Gibbs and panellists Chris Beardshaw, Bob Flowerdew and Pippa Greenwood help gardeners from Surrey.
8.30pm, BBC2, Life in a Cottage Garden with Carol Klein. The garden is gradually falling into autumn and Carol looks at gathering seed, planting bulbs and leaf gathering. (Revised repeat).