Resolve is immediately tested as we step into January. Although we’re past the shortest day of the year, it takes a few weeks to feel the benefit in terms of increased daylight, and foul weather often compounds the issue.
My solution is to enlist the help of potted plants in raising the cheer factor. Cyclamen, azalea, poinsettia, polyanthus, winter jasmine and Christmas cactus are capable of lasting several weeks if we offer a room with the maximum amount of daylight, 12 degrees centigrade and a measured amount of water.
Potted orchid is another favourite on sale at the moment. This plant, phalaenopsis especially, is much easier to grow than you might think, with great flowering capacity. Its very presence gives a feeling of wellbeing.
Forced bulbs simply add to the feel-good factor. If you missed the opportunity to start them off in bowls or pots in autumn, don’t worry as there should be plenty for sale at garden centres. I noticed some at Heighley Gate Garden Centre, near Morpeth, last week. Not only were there bowls of bulbs showing flowerbuds, but also hyacinths in individual pots.
New year resolutions are filling the air at present, but how long will they last?
One that is always near the top of my list is resisting the temptation to buy more seeds than I can use.
I always start with the best of intentions and a modest seed order covering favourite vegetables and ornamentals, but I can’t resist adding a little something extra seen on display at the garden centre. Then there are the freebies that come with magazines, and offers of trial packs that might cause offence if refused.
I resolve at the beginning of each year to try even harder to keep the greenhouse clean and complete each gardening activity – sowing, planting, pruning and harvesting – on time.
I try to clean tools after use and put them safely away. I also try to avoid raising my voice at blackbirds when they’re caught eating ripening fruit.
If you’ve ever made up a bowl of prepared hyacinths in October and put them in a cold, dark place for several weeks to encourage roots, you’ll know that shoot development is not always uniform when they are brought into the light.
The solution is to buy now, with flowering spikes of identical height, and get them planted in a bowl.
We have a mixture of bulbs, flowering, foliage and fruiting plants in the conservatory at this time of year, making it a pleasant place to relax.
Some are displayed individually, others in groups.
Traditional foliage plants such as begonia, ivy, plectranthus and chlorophytum can join assorted ferns and the ginger plant to make interesting mixed groups.
Have a happy gardening new year.