Weekend work: Time to order seeds
What to do
Spend time cruising through seed catalogues, to get your orders in by the end of the month. Try something new, such as parcel (a herb that tastes half of parsley, half of celery) or beautiful purple-podded peas. 'Bordeaux' spinach has handsome dark-green leaves shot through with red leaf veins (thompson-morgan.com, £2.09 for 200 seeds).
You also need your favourites, of course. For me that includes spidery cleomes. They were slow to get going in the chilly first half of this last summer, but made up for it at the end, flowering right through until the end of November. Dobies (dobies.co.uk) has a weird white one with red spider legs called 'Hairy Fairy' (£1.79 for 90 seeds).
Cut down flowered stems of grasses such as Deschampsia cespitosa. They're never going to look like the photos that seduced you to acquire them in the first place. Comb through clumps of grasses to get rid of dead foliage.
What to buy
The last tub of the 'Paperwhite' narcissus I planted in autumn have just finished flowering in the house. But it'll be a while before any start to appear in the garden. If you are itching for the sight and smell of spring, order a bunch of scented narcissi direct from the Scilly Isles, where they've been grown as an early crop for more than 100 years. Call 01720 423767 or go to scentednarcissi.co.uk
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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