After a long break this Garden Tips newsletter is getting going again, gearing up for the coming Season. 1st and 2nd of February are the feast days of St. Bridget, Candlemass, Imbolg, celebrations of very early spring. There is nothing like scent on the cold clear air, it awakens the senses and reminds us of the coming season. Sweet box (Sarcoccoca confusa) has a unique sweetness. I planted bulbs of Galanthus ‘Sam Arnott’ in late November and they are already flowering, long before the natives planted in the green. Snowdrops have a faint, elusive but addictive scent, temperature makes a difference, pick a bunch and bring them into the house, but if it is too warm and they will fade. The most enchanting setting is a dark cool church, lit by candles. All Saints parish church, Odd Rode used to have a snowdrop festival at the same time as Rode Hall Cheshire. It was wonderful.
It is quite surprising how weeds keep growing during the winter. Couch grass is particularly annoying. If you can bear to be outside for any length of time, weeding now will pay you back in time to enjoy the garden later in the year. Once you have cleared a patch, mulch thickly and move on. It is gratifying how much you can get done in half an hour. While you are at it this is a fine time to cut back grasses and last years perennials. Leave the cut stems on the ground and spread some mulch between the crowns of the plants.
Other outside jobs: Finish any hedge cutting, or clearing of shrubs before nesting season starts.
Indoors: Sow tender vegetable plants that need a long growing season like tomatoes and chillies.