Tatsfield gardeners have certainly had their fair share of challenges over the past few years and I have no doubt that 2013 will have a few more for us! We can be certain that there will be wind, rain and plenty of it mixed with periods ofwarm and dry, maybe even
hot weather too; but it is impossible to say how much of it and when. The trick is to assume that the weather patterns will continue to be unpredictable and be ready to take advantage of the good weather whenever it arrives! The one thing we know for certain is that our soil being heavy clay does not respond well to cultivation of any kind when it is wet, so patience is the answer. If you are growing vegetables you can cover the surface in compost or manure ready to be dug in as soon as the ground is ready. The earlier you dig the better so that you can take advantage of any frost we might get later this month and in February. The action of freezing the moisture in the soil breaks it down into finer particles, so get digging!
Remember the more organic material you put into the soil will make it easier to cultivate, it will be better drained and it will warm up more quickly in the spring.
I was asked recently whether it is better to leave planting of shrubs, trees and hedging plants until the spring. I have
always preferred to do my planting as early in the winter as possible so that the roots will settle and perhaps grow a little,
giving them a much better chance of surviving dry conditions in the next year. Leaving it until the spring might be better if the soil dries out in time and you are able to mulch the surface and then water the plants regularly in dry conditions.
This year I will be featuring a special plant for every month and over the next few months I will be featuring a plant that gives flower and fragrance in a border or a con- tainer to cheer you up. My plant for this month is one of the large Viburnum family of shrubs. Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn'is a handsome shrub that can grow into a large plant if left to grow freely in a border. It produces clusters of fragrant pale pink flowers over a long period start- ing as early as November and continuing
into early spring. It can also be grown in a large container, and if pruned in the spring after flowering it can be kept to a modest size. Place it in a sunny spot to get the best of the fragrance, perhaps near the house or by a path. Cut the blooms and include them in a flower arrangement to bring the sweet scent indoors.
Jon Allbutt (Tel:577100 Email: email@example.com)