Tips on brightening up your garden with some colourful winter beauties with Martin Fish - garden writer, broadcaster and advisor.
At this time of the year gardeners are always looking for plants that will bring a little extra interest into the garden to brighten up dull days – and we’ve certainly had our fair share of those lately!
One plant that is guaranteed to bring some sunshine into the garden is the winter jasmine or Jasminum nudiflorum.
This is a sprawling shrub, often grown as a climber that produces masses of small, sulphur yellow flowers all through the winter and into early spring. It flowers on bare branches, hence its name, nudiflorum.
Originating from China, this winter beauty is totally hardy and always performs regardless of the weather conditions. Because of the mild autumn winter jasmine started to flower several weeks ago and, all being well, it should continue on and off for another month or two.
Unfortunately there is no scent to the flowers, but their bright appearance is perfect for brightening up a dull wall or garden fence where it can be allowed to scramble through a trellis or wires.
It can also be allowed to grow as a free standing shrub, although it will need a little more pruning to keep it in shape.
As shrubs go winter flowering jasmine is very easy to grow and seems happy in most soils ranging from sandy to heavy clay.
Pruning is simple and should be done as soon as flowering stops in spring by trimming back the old flowering shoots. Through the summer new growth will be made and this is what will carry the flowers next winter.
John from Harrogate would like to know if there is anything that he can do to improve the drainage on his very soggy lawn?
The recent heavy rain has certainly made the soil waterlogged in many areas and there is a lot of standing water around.
Grass is very resilient and will recover from standing in water and in these conditions the best thing is to leave well alone and wait from the water to drain naturally.
Trampling on very wet, soggy lawns will do even more damage. Once the ground is dry enough to walk on without being too squelchy, you could try spiking areas of the lawn with a garden fork, pushing the fork into the ground as deep as you can.
This will help a little with surface drainage and it will get some air down to the roots.
The important thing is not to damage the lawn while trying to improve it, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to get out onto the lawn. (If you have a gardening question to ask Martin, email him on firstname.lastname@example.org )
Jobs for the week
Check fences and other structures around the garden to make sure they are sound. Any loose posts or fences should be secured to prevent them from being damaged in windy weather.
Geranium cuttings taken last autumn in a greenhouse or on a window sill should have rooted and be making new growth.
To encourage side shoots to develop pinch out the growing tips now.
Christmas pot plants will carry on growing as long as you keep them in a light position out of cold drafts.
Water the compost only when it starts to dry out and feed once a fortnight with a houseplant fertiliser.