January is not an auspicious month for gardening. Nothing is pressing (if you’re up to date). Best to sit at the kitchen table and enjoy seed catalogues or gardening books. So whilst we’ll have a look at the Hot! border you’ll find January is its coolest month. We’re unlikely to be doing much work this session.

What I’d like to do is to consolidate your lists of plants to grow, to work out where they’re going to come from and to look at any designs that you may have so far. As I mentioned I’d like to finalise any seeds orders on Sunday. I’ll also bring along a plan for a temporary display that we’re going to make in the Lower Greenhouse this year. After last year’s ‘Curry House’ display we’re planning to make a ‘Jungle Food’ display for 2016.

One other thing that it’s useful to do in January is to make sure you have a good plan for what you’re going to do and when. With that in mind, here’s the 2016 garden year time plan for the Hot! border.


As above, not too much to do this month. But it’s certainly worth hoeing off any annual weeds that have sprouted since autumn cultivation. We  have plants that we acquired or lifted during the autumn and we’re checking on these as well. What with the warm December there are a lot of pests around. (See Tom’s Blog for pest idents and treatments).

We keep checking the cold protection measures we took earlier – are the Beschornerias still fleeced? We are also ordering seeds for the annuals and new perennials that we’re going to use. There are no significant changes here although as the border bulks up we’re going to need fewer annuals. So fewer Tithonia and Coleus this year, no yellow Celosias as they didn’t make the grade. We’re trying a different Ricinus – ‘Zanzibarensis’. The Melianthus should not be in flower … but it is.


Time to deal with the grasses. The Imperator will be cut to the ground as will the Miscanthus which might also need thinning. We are leaving the Arundo. We may also harvest some of the Borinda macclureana and pot it up. We plan to take the winter jasmine down to the ground and start again as it is in very poor condition.  We will apply a light dressing of seaweed meal and of rock dust to the whole border. There will probably be a few bare-root hardy perennials to plant. This is a good month to renew the signage.

All the seeds and specialist rhizomes will have arrived. Propagation starts here with an early sowing of Ricinus and Cannas. These really appreciate heat. The Zantedeschias should be in flower.


The main focus is on propagation and on getting the rhizomes to sprout. The earlier we can start plants the bigger and better they’ll be … provided we can keep them warm enough. It’s always a gamble. Depending on the weather the Cannas can come out into the lower greenhouse. The specimen gingers as well as last year’s Aroids also need to be warmed up. More seed sowing plus looking after Canna and Ricinus seedlings.  Weeding… There may be Narcissus.


April is busy. We need to wake up the bananas. We plant them in small pots in a very rich and free draining composts and get them as warm as we can in the greenhouse. The Gingers and Cannas are started on a liquid seaweed feed. Aphid patrol

In the garden the plants are beginning to emerge. This is the times for moving things around. We plan to divide the Melianthus and move it up to the spot occupied by the Canna ‘Stutgart’ which will retire to the stock bed. We’ll plant out the hardy Cautleyas that we grew on last year and take out the Aspidistra. There may need to be a few other divisions. The other hardy stock can go out.

There are lots of seedlings and young perennials to look after. Weeding… We hope for Beschorneria. There may be Aliums, There will be Narcissus. April is busy.


May is even busier. The greenhouse is getting full and the cold frame is full of plants hardening off. Everything needs watering and feeding. In the garden the plants are taking shape. Has everything survived? This is when we work out whether we can maintain Cannas outside. How late will the gingers be?

Depending on the weather the tender material can go out sooner or later. Gingers first then Dahlias, Cannas and Brugs next and Bananas last. We can unwrap the sikkimensis. Interspersed with this is planting out the annuals. Finally the Lily plugs are dropped in.

There will be Aliums, early lillies. May is completely frantic. But afterwards the border is complete for the year.


So weed, water, feed and deadhead. There will be Cannas, Rubeckia, Tithonia, Cuphea and a lot more. We make a note about how everything is performing. Watch out for pests and diseases.


Weed, water, feed and deadhead. Review.


Weed, water, feed and deadhead. Review.


Weed, water, feed and deadhead. Review. By this stage we’ll have a good idea of the plans we have for changes next year. If any plants need ordering this is a good time to do it as most nurseries are discounting this year’s stock by now.


This is where we started. Many of you did this session. This is where the bananas and Brugs are lifted. The big Maurelii is going to be a real handful this year but I’d still like to get another season out of it. There should be much less lifting this year other than the bananas as everything should be in its proper place… Remember, our Cannas stay out. We only lifted some last October because they were diseased. There are no plans to lift any gingers this year … unless they’ve performed miserably.

There should still be a good display of late colour


The Cannas and Gingers are probably pruned and definitely mulched this month. The whole border should be mulched by the end of the month. We’ll cultivate where we can but there is now a lot of stock in the bed.Time to wrap the Siki and the Beschornerias. Time to build the polytunnel.


That should be about it except for weeding and looking after plants in the cold frame and the greehouse