Not long now to getting stuck in

PUBLISHED: 15:56 18 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:09 28 May 2010

WINTER BEAUTY: Clematis Freckles.

WINTER BEAUTY: Clematis Freckles.

GARDENING WEEK with JEFF PETERS NOW that we have begun the new year, I have to admit to a feeling of some impatience to get to grips once again with all things that grow in the garden. Welcome though the frosts have been in killing off some of the nasties

GARDENING WEEK with JEFF PETERS

NOW that we have begun the new year, I have to admit to a feeling of some impatience to get to grips once again with all things that grow in the garden.

Welcome though the frosts have been in killing off some of the nasties that target the roses, the tomatoes and clematis, waiting for the weather to improve enough to get out on the lawn and the veg patch is most frustrating.

Much though I have appreciated devoting the time instead to the many tasks in the potting shed and greenhouse, I look out over the somewhat forelorn-looking borders now minus all the rotting leaves which fell from the apple tree, the greengage tree, the runner beans, the magnolia et al.

It makes me want to get busy again, digging in the compost, scattering handfuls of general purpose fertiliser, putting new plants in, and watching them grow.

Until then it apple tree pruning time, cutting back the myriad of last summer's new growth now some two feet or so long.

And, back to the seed catalogues.

While I have a lot of respect for the tried, tested and trusted varieties, I do like to try new things too.

Not all have been the success they might have been, over the years, but no matter, as Robert the Bruce said on watching a spider failing then finally succeeding in spinning a web, if at first you don't succeed,try, try and try again.

It amazes me how an aunt, no longer young, manages to grow marvellous geraniums year after year using her own seed, doing nothing more than putting the seed tray on the window sill. I am the beneficiary of a tray of 50 plants each year, and they all do well in the garden.

I must have a go at it myself this year.

Scanning the seed catalogues is well worth the time for its own sake.

There seems no limit to the number of new varieties of flowers that our plant breeders can conjury up. They get ever more exotic, ever bigger, more colourful, dazzlers in every sense of the word.

In brackets here I would suggest visiting some of the trials gardens in season to see some of the new varieties which have not yet been released to the public - and maybe never will be. Capel Manor in Enfield has the Which? trials gardens, while the Gardens of the Rose at St Albans is another wonderful place to visit.

Their plantsmen and women are very knowledgeable and always ready to give advice.

Doubtless I will also be popping into my local garden centres again this year to see what they have to catch my eye, especially some of the more unusual clematis.

There aren't many winter-flowering varieties, but one I acquired last year is going great guns trained up a bamboo cane gazebo.

It is called Freckles, and it is a mass of flowers, all delicately coloured and looking their best when the sun is shining. In the middle of last year it gave me a scare when all of its leaves turned crisp brown and dropped off. Clematis wilt? It seems not, since surprise surprise, after a couple of months it sprouted new leaves and flower buds. So all's well that ends well.

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