IT IS time to send off last orders for seeds and young plants from catalogues. More popular varieties may have sold out, but there will still be plenty of choice. Most companies offer a good range of interesting and unusual plants, as well as plenty of old favourites.

This year, Thompson and Morgan, for example, have a new variation on the classic summer flower Nicotiana sylvestris (£1.99/2,000seeds). This tall plant, which grows upwards of 120cm/48ins, carries clusters of long white fragrant flowers above large mid-green leaves, but it does take up a lot of space.

Thompson and Morgan’s introduction, Nicotiana suaveolens (£1.49/100seeds) is, according to the company, still as elegant and with the same sweet scent but only about half the height of Nicotiana sylvestris.

The white flowers are blushed with pink and the fragrance is at its best in early evening and morning. Nicotiana can be sown from February to April in trays placed in a heated greenhouse or on a warm windowsill. The seedlings should be potted on and hardened off when large enough, before being out into their flowering position.

For later summer flowers, Mr Fothergills has a new coneflower, Echinacea purpurea ‘Dreamcoat’ (£3.29/20seeds), said to be the first coloured mixture of the species to be raised from seed.

The flowers range from white through to deep pink, with yellow and orange in between, and the petals surrounding the raised central cone typical of these plants.

Mr Fothergill’s is also offering Echinacea ‘Hot Summer’ whose buds open in shades of yellow and orange which gradually deepen to red as the flowers mature.

Bear in mind that Echinaceas are hardy perennials and may not flower profusely in their first summer.

Echinacea ‘Hot Summer’ can be ordered now for despatch from early June, with five young plants costing £12.95, and young plants plus five free costing £25.90 (E. ‘Hot Summer’ is not available as seed).

For gardeners who like something to eat from their garden, Thompson and Morgan is offering two varieties of certified organically produced apple trees.

‘Jonagold’ (£21.99 per tree) produces large yellow flushed fruit, which are a result of a cross between ‘Jonathan’ and ‘Golden Delicious’. The harvested fruit should store well.

‘Idared’ (£21.99 per tree) is a cooking apple with pale yellow green sometime pink-tinged flesh and red skin. The fruit is best eaten between November to March.

In the food department, Mr Fothergill’s continues it hot theme with a new chilli pepper mix, ‘Hotscotch’ (£1.95/35seeds).

This is a mix of fiery habanera and scotch bonnet peppers, which ripen from green to red, orange and chocolate brown. They are best grown in the warmth and shelter of a greenhouse, tunnel or frame.

Thompson and Morgan and Mr Fothergill’s offer catalogue and online ordering. Ring 01473 695224 quoting PRS9 for a T&M catalogue or visit to order on line. Ring 0845 371 0518 for a Mr Fothergills catalogue or visit to order online.

Weekend catch-up...

AS JANUARY moves to its end, there are plenty of jobs in the garden, should the weather allow.

Herbaceous perennials have long since died back, but it is worth checking their crowns and clearing soggy leaves that have dropped from nearby trees and shrubs. The rotting vegetation can cause deterioration of the plants, especially those which like well-drained conditions, and may also provide a hiding place for slugs and snails.

Overcrowded herbaceous perennials can be divided in January, as long as the ground is neither frozen nor waterlogged.

The whole clump needs to be eased from the bed and put on to a sheet of polythene on the lawn or path – this makes it easier to clear away afterwards.

Cut or prise the large clump into smaller pieces making sure each has a good amount of healthy roots. The best are usually found around the edge of the clump, so discard the central section if there is nothing worth keeping.

Dig the soil over, add a handful of slow release fertiliser and replant the new divisions. If an eye is kept on them over the next few months, firming in after heavy frost and watering in prolonged dry spells, by summer they should be ready to bloom.

Gardening TV and radio


8am, BBC Radio Humberside, Gardening Phone-in. Presented by Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewart, telephone number 01482 225 959.

9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Gardening. With Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.

2pm, BBC Radio4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Matthew Biggs, Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood and chairman Peter Gibbs offer advice to gardeners in Norfolk. The gardening weather forecast is at 2.40pm. (Repeated from Friday).


1pm, BBC2, Open Gardens. The programme looks at gardens with a romantic, meandering design. (Repeat).

3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. John Cushnie, Pippa Greenwood, Bunny Guinness and chairman Eric Robson help gardeners here in North Yorkshire with their horticultural problems. The gardening weather forecast is at 3.40pm.


7pm, BBC Radio York, Plant Surgery. Presented by Julia Booth with horticulture expert Nigel Harrison.