It’s a great time for gardeners to venture outdoors and work

The ground may be hard and the air bitterly cold, but horticulturalists fear not for there is no better time to prepare the garden for a flourishing 2021.

According to the Horticultural Trades Association, almost three million people took to gardening in 2020 as a result of lockdown, with nearly half of aspiring growers aged under 45.

And the trend is set to continue, with scores of green-fingered residents taking to Shropshire’s garden centres to ensure they remain productive over the coming months.

Despite the urge to remain indoors in the warm and only tend to the outdoors when the spring months roll in, experts throughout Shropshire have said there is plenty to do in the meantime.

Anna Newington, a partner at Oakgate Nursery & Garden Centre in Ellerdine Heath, near Shawbury, said ensuring any outdoor space was clean and organised was essential.

“It can be difficult at this time of year, but there’s a lot of cleaning and tidying up to do,” she said.

Lucy Minta of Oakgate Nursery & Garden Centre greets customers Jane and John Wood from Market Drayton

“Now is the time to get ready for the spring and a lot of the work is prep – making sure garden sheds are tidy and checking to see you have all the right tools is a must, as well as clearing out and organising any beds.

“Soon we will see snowdrops, hellebores, and camellias – mine have already started flowering, which is very early, so I’m hoping the frost won’t get the buds. Then with vegetables it’ll soon be seed potatoes, which are the big one.”

Alfie Minta of Oakgate Nursery & Garden Centre is pictured potting up roses

Ms Newington added: “It is important to decide what you want to see in your garden and start now – a lot of people wait until it’s too hot, when they see something flowering they like, but by then it can be too late.”

Kevin Turley, from Lakeside Plant Centre in Priorslee, Telford, added: “We’re starting a new year, which also marks new beginnings for plenty of plants.

“At this time of year, the frost levels aren’t great, but you can still tend to some planting in the garden on softer days, rearrange flower beds and get the right feed into the ground.

“A lot of people will be turning over their allotments at the moment too. This will require digging it over, getting your manure in, making sure your feed is into the ground and just generally preparing for a successful year.

“If these cold temperatures continue, more people will be wrapping up their plants, giving them insulation.

New beginnings for plenty of plants – Kevin Turley from Lakeside Plant Centre in Telford

“Especially plants in pots, with a continued frost you might want to make sure the root system is protected and also put in fleecing to protect the top.

“Other activities could include making sure bird feeders are adequate; with grounds being frozen you can supplement their dietary requirements – there are lots of things you could be doing.”

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