If your garden is covered in several feet of snow right now, you can still do some gardening, but indoors instead of out. How about a spot of Internet gardening? Surf on the net and see what's there to thaw your frozen gardener's heart. Go visit the blogs of the garden bloggers in Austin who are able to garden all year round, or visit Green Thumb in India or Nicole in Trinidad for some (semi-) tropical delight or even her from Bliss who has been outdoor gardening several times already this month. Annoying, isn't it, when you're still cooped up inside? But never fear, if you want to get your hands, or paws, dirty - and who wouldn't - you can!
Here's Kadootje helping me out with a spot of indoor sowing. Get your paws out of that seed tray Kadootje, I want to get cracking with sowing some lovely blue trailing Lobelia.
You can never have enough Lobelia, it's such a wonderful plant for pots and hanging baskets. Prices for bedding plants have gone up rather steeply these last few years so I've decided to sow my own whenever possible.
Lobelia seeds need warmth to germinate, around 20 C would be ideal. Unfortunately I don't have one of those nifty heating mats but I do have something else I can use.
No, not Merlin, but what is underneath him. In my bathroom there is underfloor heating and that is what I use for my seeds that need a bit of heat to germinate. See?
Delia and Merlin are very annoyed that one of their favourite hanging out places is now occupied by a seed tray. Sorry sweethearts, but your turn will come again soon. In the meantime they'll make do with this hanging out spot.
Sorry, wrong pic, I got that one from the Internet, it's scream isn't it? I meant to show you this one of course, of Merlin hanging out in a very peculiar way, more or less standing on his head in fact; anything to catch a bit of warmth from the radiator.
Back to the sowing of seeds. If you are a regular visitor of Bliss then you know by now that I'm very keen on scented flowers. One of my favourites is the Sweet Pea. Every year I sow them in January so that they have a head start in Spring. The earlier they flower, the better I like it.
I love the little darlings dearly and would never be without them. They are great in the garden but equally great in a vase as well. A few flowers will fill the whole room with their wonderful scent.
There are several methods you can use to sow Sweet Pea seeds. This is mine:
- take a bit of kitchen towel and make it slightly wet
- put the seeds on the towel and fold
- wait for 1 to 2 weeks for the seeds to germinate, making sure that the kitchen towels don't dry out
- put the germinated seeds in a pot with potting soil and wait for the seedlings to appear
- discard all the seeds that haven't germinated
- pinch out the tops when the seedlings are 12 cm high
- harden them off in early May by putting the plants outside during the day and inside at night thus avoiding the plants being killed off by a touch of frost during the night
- put them in the garden at the end of May or as soon as all risk of night frost is gone.
This year I am sowing some special varieties of Sweet Pea such as this one, gorgeous colour, don't you think?
This Sweet Pea, Pink Cupid, is a trailing one, great for tubs and hanging baskets.
This is Rosemary Verey, named after the late, well know British gardener; an unique blend of various shades of pink to creamy white, very cottage garden-y.
As usual, I am also sowing the plain white ones, as they are a great favourite of mine.
While writing this post I've decided to buy one more packet of Sweet Pea seeds as I've just realised I can't do without these: a mix of pastel shades which I love for their gorgeous colours. I always buy Lathyrus odoratus, I want the scented ones; Sweet Peas without a scent are like Christmas without a Christmas tree to me.
I like trying out new things and when I was buying some seeds last Saturday, I came across this packet; it's Verbascum phoeniceum that flowers the same year you've sown it. Sounds great to me, normally you sow them one year, and enjoy the flowers the next. Now all the joy is to be had in one year's time only. Love the colours too and can't wait to see them in flower in my new border next Summer.
January is also a good month to re-pot plants or to plant up some cuttings. My spider plant had had lots of babies so I decided to plant up a few.
They are protected from the sharp teeth from all the members of the Bliss team by this mini Victorian greenhouse, very pretty, isn't it and so very handy too. I got it in a sale last year for only 5 euro. And it has a friend.
Of course I couldn't resist buying another one when they were that cheap. The second one contains a few pots with cuttings from a lemon scented Pelargonium that had gotten way too big and leggy. So with all the sowing and potting up of plants, getting your hands in the soil and rather dirty is still possible at this time of year.
Now it's time for a bit of instant indoor gardening; there, a lovely basket full of Spring delight! If that doesn't chase away the winter blues, nothing will.
Yesterday I found these two chaps to add to my collection of indoor birds; a gorgeous Kingfisher (ijsvogel) and a lovely Robin (roodborstje).
I leave you with a pic of one of the things that the members of the Bliss team like to do most in winter and there's no law against us humans doing the same thing while we dream of future Bliss in our gardens to come next Spring..
Copyright 2008: Y.E.W. Heuzen
Patience and perseverance are traits necessary to the gardener. One must not be discouraged, but determined to succeed. Helena Rutherford Ely, A Woman's Hardy Garden, 1903