• The Chichester Gardener

January Saturation



I think we would all agree that January is never the easiest month to get through, let alone when combined with a lock-down and the endless recent rain. Whether it's the low after the Christmas that never really happened or lack of daylight hours, I know many are struggling and this is before we even get to the horrendous covid situation.


It has rained a lot this year and we're not even at the end of January. The empty wheelbarrows, slowly but surely, fill up as often as they are emptied and every water butt gently overflows like a champagne fountain...if only. The borders are fairly free draining here in West Sussex aided by the piles of organic matter we added last year, but the lawn is in a sorry state. Months of outdoor homeschooling last year pummeled and compacted the grass to oblivion so puddles now form, apart from where Fennel, our 8 month golden retriever, has decided to dig gaping holes. I used to rush out and fill these holes but being January I can't really be bothered.


So what is there to do when it's stair rods outside and you've done everything that could possibly be done in a greenhouse at this time of year. Dream. Dream in hope of spring, long lazy meals outside and happy feral children running wild outside. Spring is currently only a handful of weeks away...we can do this.


As a gardener I dream of what the garden could look like in a few months, idealistically I admit, but the aspiration of flower filled and weed free borders and a bountiful kitchen garden are a lovely escape at the moment. The slightly more realistic scenario of borders laced with bindweed and half chewed dog toys left scatted around the kitchen garden is something, this year at least, I need to accept and embrace.



Us gardeners tend to keep seeds, whether collected or hoarded from years past. Now is a great time to go through the piles of old seeds and be ruthless, chucking anything over a sow by date of a year or two ago, it's simply not worth the bother. Once you've done this it's time to dream of what to grow and try and remember what worked well or failed miserably last year. The airy and pollinator friendly combination of gaura, verbena bonariensis and ammi majus was a success last summer so we might try that again. I love cosmos, but prefer the paler varieties so I like the look of 'sensation pinkie' for the borders this year, and I was bowled over by the evening scent of nicotiana alata 'grandiflora' last summer, so much so that I plan to sow even more this year. So grab those seed catalogues or scroll through instagram for some inspiration and dream of what you could be growing this summer.