January 2023

old and new images of Harlow Museum walled gardens black and white photograph with yellow tulips in the foreground

January update from the Harlow Museum Gardens

Highlights in the Garden this month…

As you might expect the Gardens’ have suffered from the cold weather and snow we had in December.  The Phormiums tenax and Cordyline australis are looking particularly sorry for themselves, but as any gardener will know, all is not lost and the mild weather so far in January encouraged growth and blooms.  The Sarcococca confusa and Hamamelis x intermedia are getting into their stride, with flowers opening and we find their sweet scent drifting on the air on warmer days.  If you come across one of these beautifully scented plants on a cold or windy day, cup the bloom in your hand and breathe softly on them.  The warmth in your breath will help to release the scent.  The Helleborus orientalis flowers are also opening and looking fantastic in the winter border with the Salix alba and Cornus alba ‘Westonbirt’, showing off their winter stem glory.


Jobs for January…

  • Cut back hellebore foliage, to allow the flowers to shine.  This is especially important for those leaves affected by black spot, as removing them now will help to prevent spread on the newly emerging leaves.  Do not put these leaves in your home composting.
  • Cut back damaged stems and soggy foliage on herbaceous plants to allow the new growth to come through unhindered.
  • Weed, clear and mulch your borders and add the material removed to your compost heap.  Mulching with bulky organic matter (garden compost, mushroom compost, manures) will add heart to your soil and improve water retention capabilities, but any mulch will help reduce weeds.
  • Winter prune trees, particularly apples and pears, but remember winter pruning encourages growth, and do not remove more than one third of the tree in any one year.
  • Check through your seed stores, dispose of out of date seed and browse seed catalogues to identify gaps in your stocks and choose alternative exciting varieties to try this year.
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