January at The Reigate Garden Centre Plant Department

Plant of the Month

Primula
While most other plants are still dormant, Primula is Plant of the Month for January, will bring colourful blooms, interest and life to even the most forlorn looking back garden in the colder months.
There are more than 500 species in the genus Primula, including auricula, cowslip and oxlip. The most well known is common primrose (Primula vulgaris, ) a native European plant, which derives its name from the Latin ‘prima', or first, and ‘rosa' or rose. The first rose - a symbol for the arrival of spring in the UK. It is also known as the early Rose and Easter Rose
The majority of these plants bloom in the spring, but have been known to flower throughout a mild winter. A wide range of colours are available with this hardy group of plants, from bright yellow to pastel reds and blues. They can be planted in containers, winter baskets and garden borders. They can grow in most soil types and can be planted in many garden situations including sun and semi shade.
They can be used very effectively in bedding schemes alongside tulips and other winter/spring bedding plants or planted in blocks of colour. When planting primula in containers, use multi-purpose compost and ensure that they never dry out. It is worth dead heading the plants regularly as this will encourage a longer flowering period.
Polyanthus is an old favourite, within the species, which has been enhanced by hybridisation giving an improved colour range and hardiness to the plant. Polyanthus is very versatile and can be planted in borders and containers. They can brighten up any part of the garden and can be used in partially shaded spots as well.

In Your Garden

New Year - new garden!  
What do you want from your garden this year?  Now is the time to get excited about all you could do in the coming year.  Let your imagination run wild!  Look everywhere for inspiration:  the web, TV, magazines and books.  Talk to neighbours, friends and staff at your local garden centre.
Time for some maintenance
Plus now’s a good time for some maintenance perhaps to fences, decorative materials and tools. Make sure you’re wrapped up warm and then, once the jobs are done and you’re back in your warm living room, that rich cup of coffee or hot chocolate will taste even better! 
Start gently
• You don’t need to do much about bulbs, corms and tub plants at this time of year, apart from checking that they are not suffering frost or rotting. 
• You can prune some trees and shrubs now, such as over wintering fuchsias and currant bushes. 
• What about adding some winter colour to your garden?  Winter-flowering shrubs will brighten up your garden in these grey months. You can even plant them out if there is no frost. 
Remember the birds
This winter has proved to be something of a blast from an icy past for many of us!  However, provided the weight of snow on plants isn't so great as to cause stem breakages, the insulation of a thick covering of snow offers a valuable layer of protection. 
The insulation of a thick covering of snow offers a good layer of protection for plants. The birds struggle more during the winter months, you can help them by putting out some extra bird food. 

Prune now

Currant bushes
Redcurrants, whitecurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries can be pruned now. 
Ornamental trees 
Many ornamental trees can also be reshaped now, (but do not remove any large branches on birch, maple or walnut. Their sap will start rising soon, and after heavy pruning they may continue to bleed, preventing the wounds from healing). Hold off from drastic pruning until the autumn. 
Climbing fruit
Grapes and kiwi fruit should be pruned before the end of January in order to avoid heavy bleeding.  
Fruit trees
Preferably wait until February before pruning fruit trees. Otherwise there is a risk of pests and diseases. 
Wait until May before pruning trees with stoned fruits such as cherries, plums, nectarines, peaches and apricots.
Remove running shoots
Remove running shoots from around the trunks of some fruit trees. Find the point of attachment in the soil and twist off the shoots. Do not cut them: this will just result in more shoots.
Tidy up fruit trees
Remove dried-up fruit that are still hanging in fruit trees: they are real sources of infection. They can contain fungus spores which can give problems later.
Plant Now
Bare-rooted trees and hedge plants are ideal for planting now. Plant them as soon as possible, unless it is freezing. If you don’t have the time do so straight away, entrench them temporarily: dig a trench, place the plants in it or lay them in at a slant, and cover the roots with soil.

Maintenance

Aerate the lawn
• You can aerate the soil in places were there is often excess water (prick holes with a special aerator or garden fork).  
• Only do this if there is no frost and the ground is not frozen. 
• Avoid walking on a frozen lawn as much as possible. This avoids causing poor spots on the lawn. Regularly scatter sharp sand on such spots to make the ground less muddy. 
Snow
A thick layer of snow offers excellent protection to your plants. Snow is highly insulating. However a layer of snow can press heavily on conifers with upward branches, which can cause the branches to bend and even snap off. Remove the snow in order to make sure that the tree isn’t permanently deformed. 
The pond needs to breathe
An ice preventer helps ensure that your pond does not freeze over entirely. Harmful gasses can escape from the water and oxygen can get in. This keeps the pond healthy even if the water is covered in ice.
Build a pond
If you build a pond now - during frost-free weather - you can enjoy it from April. Use a good quality pond liner (rubber sheeting is very flexible even at low temperatures). 
Check tree straps
A tree strap may be too tight and can grow into the bark. Loosen the strap. Straps which are too loose and are rubbing on a tree’s bark should be tightened a little.
Check container plants
• Check for infestations such as aphids and fungus. 
• Clean up dropped leaves and dead twigs, since they can be a source of infection. 
• Ensure that the air of the storage place where the pots are being over wintered is freshened regularly. 
• Do not allow the rootballs to dry out completely.