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Home and Gardens

Published on December 20th, 2013 | by The Town Crier


Brighten up January with summer flowers

Winter gardening articles abound with sparkling images of snow covered trees and frosted grasses 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.

Alison Marsden lives in Southborough and provides advice to gardeners as well as teaching for Kent Adult Education Services.

There is no long term commitment – just all the advice you need an hour at a time.

Find out more at www.gardeningbydesign.co.uk

New Year Gardening Resolutions

Stick with it

Identify a task in the garden and stick to it without getting distracted.  You will achieve more and be encouraged by seeing the job completed.

Build a bin

Start composting suitable garden and kitchen waste in a corner of the garden.  Well-rotted compost improves soil structure and nutrients.

Be brave

Make 2014 the year that you (finally) change the things you do not like in your garden and make it great for your family all year round.

Grow Fruit

Whether you have room for a few strawberries in a pot or a mini orchard, nothing beats picking and eating ripe fruit direct from the plant.

Visit gardens

Visit gardens big or small, public or private and even look at the front gardens you walk past.  You will learn something from each one.

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