“The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle:—
Why not I with thine?
By Gordon the Gardener
The main theme of Shelley’s poem ‘The fountains Mingle with the River’ is the relationship between the connections that exist for all things in the natural world.
Nature will take its own course no matter what. Arguably the greatest gardener of modern times, Geoffrey Smith, said: “A plant’s memory is far stronger than ours.”
The tulips we planted will flower come spring no matter what. Likewise, roses will flower in summer and the chrysanthemum in autumn.
The weather follows its own pattern. The constant gales and heavy rains of the past few months have tested the resilience of gardeners across the country.
It has been hard to cope with the constant onslaught of the extremes. Gardeners are a hardy people who, like the tulip, wait and endure for better weather and the spring to come.
Friends of Brighouse Railway Station have been working to brighten up the station with plantings in the last few years.
Areas of the station concourse have been tastefully remodelled, and previously areas that were uncultivated all are looking bright.
They entered the Community Rail Network national ‘It’s Your Station’ competition. This celebrates horticulture and community involvement.
Their hard work is now paying off as they’ve been shortlisted for a coveted Gold award. The chairperson Paul Marshall said the group had been selected along with only three other stations and were delighted to be in the mix. The final results will be announced in March. Well done to all the gardeners of Brighouse.
January is when gardeners begin plan out their gardening year, what to sow and, more essentially, when to start sowing.
Some seeds need a start early in the year. It’s vital to sow at the correct time, and the same with cuttings. It is hard playing catch-up once it gets late as I know only too well.
I booked a train but was running late, doing my best to get to Leeds only to see the London express leaving the station platform!
Seed in the greenhouse. But make sure the inside of the greenhouse has been thoroughly cleaned before you begin. Regular cleaning of the windows outside will let in more light.
If electricity is available in a greenhouse, seed can be sown in boxes of John Innes seed compost and placed in a heated propagator or on a heat mat set at 65F (18C).
The greenhouse temperature should be set lower at around 50F (10C). Seeds can be sown early to good advantage including sweet peas; geraniums; dahlias; delphiniums; basil; begonias tuberous and bedding types; chillies and aubergines; petunias and anthuriums.
If you want onions like those seen at the Harrogate Autumn Show then sow early. Cultivars like Kelsae and Ailsa Craig are both white. A good red onion is Red Baron which grows well and is a good keeper. Alternatively, of course, onion plants can be bought.
Out of doors or indoor grapevines need to be pruned whilst still dormant. I prune mine back to two to three eyes. Hard pruning will produce strong growth but no fruit.
Delphiniums are a delightful edition to any garden. Plants require a fertile well-drained soil in a site with full sun. Place them 3ft (90cm) apart in groups of three to five for best effect.
Soil preparation is the key to success with all plants. The land should have well-rotted manure incorporated in. They are best planted in spring but can be planted at any time as long as the land is not frozen. Plugs bought in spring are a good buy.
Many types of shrubs can be pruned – as long as they’re not spring flowering ones like Forsythia, otherwise the flowering wood that grew last summer will be cut off before the flowers have had a chance to open.
I know it is hard to know which to prune. If in doubt – don’t. Try to remember the rule ‘prune after flowering’ and you won’t be far wrong.
I have seen signs already of early spring. In the greenhouse, cuttings I took last September are responding to the extra little bit of light that is now on the way since December 21, the darkest day of Yule. As I said, their memory is far stronger than ours.