January Gardening Tips - Hellebores

PUBLISHED: 12:39 05 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:30 20 February 2013

Hellebores get started early and take to the bare stage all by themselves

Hellebores get started early and take to the bare stage all by themselves

Gardening expert Sue Beesley advises Living Edge readers on the priorities for January

Hurray, the shortest day is behind us and spring is on its way! Yes, I know this must seem a very odd perspective to take, sitting here on a freezing winter day with a threat of snow in the air, but it sums up exactly how I feel about January. The commitments and excess of Christmas are over and each day is a little longer than the one before. And even if we cant feel spring in the air yet, the plants can.

Each time the temperature rises above about 6C, the shoots of spring bulbs push a little further upwards. There are stirrings underground in the herbaceous border as fresh growth begins to probe for the light and the sap will soon start to rise in your trees and shrubs. By the way, if you need to prune an Acer or a Silver Birch you need to get a move on as they will bleed profusely if you cut into them once they start into growth.

Of course, some plants dont wait for spring the Hellebores get started early and take to the bare stage all by themselves. Perfect for lightly shaded areas under trees, Hellebore flowers last for weeks and provide a colour range from white, through cream, to pink and dark purple. Each flower lasts for weeks, gradually fading to a greenish buff colour, making way for more spectacular plants to take over the show. The purple flowered ones are highly sought after, but personally I like the pure whites and clear pink flowers. They shine out on the gloomiest day in total disregard for winters chill.

Tips for January?
Its the best month to prune apple and pear trees, and I like to give the shed a clear out too, ready for the big spring push. And if the weather drives you indoors, treat yourself to a browse through the gorgeous pictures in the 2010 seed catalogues and dream of summer.....
A very happy gardening new year to you all.

Sue Beesley was runner-up in the BBCs Gardener of the Decade and is the owner of Lodge Lane nursery and Bluebell Cottage Gardens in Dutton, Cheshire. Check out her website www.lodgelanenursery.co.uk

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