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Stamford Bridge Newsletter – January

snowdrops

I am delighted to be asked to write the gardening notes for Stamford Bridge Newsletter, being able to talk about plants is always a delight.

January is a time for planning how your garden can be improved, looking back at mistakes and remembering which parts of the garden need attention. It is also a time to curl up in front of the fire with seed catalogues and an interesting book. This year I was given the RHS Companion to Scented Plants and I am working my way through it trying to make sure I have at least one plant scenting the garden each month. My shrub selection for January is Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’. This grows to about 3 metres and whenever the weather is not frosty, is covered with strongly scented pink flowers, lovely to pick a sprig and place on a windowsill.

January is also the time for early snowdrops. I have had varieties of Galanthus nivalis reginae-olgae in flower since November and in January and February my woodland walk is carpeted with white. Galanthus S. Arnott is a scented form which has large flowers, grows strongly and is not expensive. Do be careful, collecting snowdrops is addictive; I am saving up for Galanthus ‘Diggory’, very large flowers and delightfully crinkled petals. Several gardens open for the National Gardens Scheme in February which have collections of snowdrops and are worth visiting to see the available varieties.

Time now to choose annuals from the catalogues which arrive at Christmastime. We grow several for cutting for the café, Salvia horminum has bracts of pink, blue and white, and at 40cm ideal to plant in gaps at the front of a border in sun. My mother always grew migniotte, Reseda odorata, which although has insignificant flowers smells strongly of honey, lasts well when cut and is ideal to mix with more colourful flowers in a small posy.

Another book to recommend is Val Bourne’s The Winter Garden, full of ideas to make your garden more interesting with evergreen structure, so make the most of winter hibernation and plan!