Add colour to your garden this winter – Brian Kidd

It’s time to spend some time in the greenhouse, have a good clear out, get rid of dead leaves and have a good sweep up. Did you remember to sow some early pea seeds in cells during the autumn?

Winter flowering heathers are great to see this time of year, says Brian Kidd.
Winter flowering heathers are great to see this time of year, says Brian Kidd.

They will be hardy and will start to grow nicely during the next few weeks.

I remembered but unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do it.

Instead I am going to do this this week during the evening with a lantern in the greenhouse at the allotment.

I am using the Meteor pea plants because our garden centre sold all of the Feltham First seeds. It’s best to use whichever ones you prefer. 

Half fill insert cells with universal potting compost. Put just two or three pea seeds in each of the cells, cover the seeds with the compost and give the trays a shake to settle the compost.

Water the compost and the seedlings will emerge in about three weeks time. However its important to protect them from mice because they love pea seeds.

You can prevent mice eating them by using two buckets with a plank between the buckets. The mice can't climb up the sides of the buckets but this ensures they can’t jump down from overhead shelves.

You have to be as cunning as the mice.

Allow the seedling roots to fill the cells and then they can be planted into the garden or allotment. The peas will be ready at the end of May or early June.

This morning, I had a walk around the garden and it was great to see the snowdrops are in flower, the camellia buds are going to split open in three weeks time and the Daphne odora is filling the garden with perfume.

It’s great to see the Daphne Jacqueline Postill is in flower, standing at six feet and its perfume is heartening – it makes me smile.

The Polyanthus and primrose plants looked as if they were drowning. If you think your plants are in a similar state, a quick fork around with a garden fork helps them perk up really well.

It’s great to see more of the birds this time of year too. I always enjoy seeing birds happy on the feeders, especially our favourite woodpecker. 

Also, I think one of the most pleasing plants at this time of year are the winter flowering heathers. 

They are so hardy despite being almost flooded when they were underwater for about a week. But now they are in full flower and when the sun is out, their bright colour could transport you to summer.

To brighten up your garden further, add some beautiful golden leaves of Elaeagnus maculata Aurea and some Japanese laurel because the bold red bottle shapes on the berries. However the trouble is that the grass is too wet to gather the remaining leaves at this time of year.

But I am very looking forward to the lighter evenings.

Only four weeks until it will be light at 5pm on the last day of next month – the countdown has begun!

Top tip: Keep looking forward all the time. The snowdrops are in bloom and soon it will be light at 5pm in the afternoon. Keep faith in yourself, everything will be fine, just hang on – spring is on its way.