GINA PARKINSON sets to digging and finds relief from the effort in seeing what is growing now, including an old favourite, the lovely winter jasmine

ISN’T digging a great occupation? From being a small child rushing excitedly on to the beach, bright plastic spade in hand, to being a rather older person itching to get the spade out of the garden shed and get muddy, I love it.

Last Sunday, the morning was mild and I continued levelling an emptied flowerbed ready to be sown with grass seed later in spring. It has been quite a task, from taking up the plants and temporarily depositing them in the veg garden at the end of the summer, to the odd hour spent since trying to clear the patch.

Such jobs are simple to plan but often prove more time-consuming than expected – double, triple or even quadruple the imagined span.

The bed has reached the trowel stage as we are into the archaeology part of levelling what was an established flower bed.

Snowdrops and other bulbs are beginning to come up and the gung-ho wielding of a spade is no longer appropriate. Now I am crouched over the earth, carefully teasing uneven mounds of soil from around delicate green shoots. Some have to be dug up en masse and relocated, but most are being left in situ, where they will eventually pop up through the lush lawn I can see in my mind’s eye.

It feels strange to have cleared this established bed. There were a few feelings of guilt about disturbing the plants and wildlife that had happily lived there. But the plants will eventually settle in the new border being created for them. The bugs and froglets have been given piles of leaves and garden debris to hide in nearby, as well as a magnificent log pile at the end of the garden.

The occasional wander about the garden to unbend cramped knees was necessary to relieve the resulting stiffness. It was good to see that while this bed is a little forlorn at present, elsewhere other plants are flowering regardless, including the lovely winter jasmine.

This has bloomed through the month and now that February is just about here, is beginning to lose that first fresh look. This plant is still worth a shout out, the lovely clear yellow flowers opening on bare stems for months whenever there is a mild spell of weather.

Foliage appears later and on a mature plant there will be a sporadic flurry of blooms, on and off, in late spring and into summer.

This shrub is best grown against a wall or fence, where its long stems can be tied to a support or grown through other shrubs. It can be trimmed after flowering by taking out branches that have borne the blooms. New stems will appear over the summer and can be loosely tied to their support, where they will carry the next lot of flowers.


Weekend catch-up

A MILD January day is perfect for getting to grips with the weeds that have continued to grace our gardens through winter.

With much of the soil bare of herbaceous perennials, evergreen baddies are easily spotted and relatively easy to pull out. We have a problem with wood avens in our garden. This spreads quickly if it isn’t kept under control with an annual cull.

This plant is a nuisance member of the otherwise ornamental Geum family, which includes such garden lovelies as Geum rivale and Geum reptans.

This one, however, is Geum urbanum with insignificantly small yellow flowers and a rosette of slightly rough-toothed leaves.

The foliage seems evergreen certainly in sheltered gardens, which is advantageous to the gardener as they can be identified and removed before the blooms appear.

The only problem at this time of year is their ability to grow among spring bulbs, so care needs to be taken when using a trowel to dislodge them. It’s worth the effort.

Like any persistent weed, if these plants aren’t regularly seen to they will soon overwhelm everything else in the garden.


Gardening TV and Radio


8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart.

9am, BBC Radio York, Julia Lewis. Gardening related news and features from around North Yorkshire presented by Julia Lewis.

9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.

2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. A postbag edition from the University of Reading with Peter Gibbs.


3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness and Matthew Wilson answer questions from gardening enthusiasts in West Scotland. Chaired by Eric Robson.

8pm, Sky1, Show Me Your Garden. From Scotland.

9pm, BBC2, The Big Allotment Challenge. The three remaining contestants compete in the grand final. They have to present cauliflowers and Cape gooseberries on the show bench, use carnations in a floral arch and make canapes and cocktails.