Ciaran Burke

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’ 

Plant Recommedations

Ciaran Burke, Head of Horticulture at Johnstown Garden Centre suggests some of his favourite plants for planting now. 

Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’ 

This is a brilliant plant. It blooms all year around in my garden and has a nice scent too. See the video clip. 

bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’

This is one of the best plants for fragrance, an evergreen shrub that flowers from January to March. It is easy to grow and will reach about 2 metres high.  

Plants are available in-store only. 

For The Home 

Introduce a splash of colour to the home with a nice flowering plant. Begonia are easy to look after and flower non-stop for months on end. In summer the plants can be placed outside. Place the plants in a bright position, feed with flowering plant food once each week and water approximately once a week. As older blooms fade, remove them with a shard scissors or secateurs.  

Expert tip- Pot on to a slightly larger pot as soon as you bring the plant home to encourage more growth and further blooms. 

Don’t Forget…  VALENTINE’S DAY


Valentine’s Day 14th February. Looking for a unique gift to express your love, a gift that keeps on giving, year after year? A gift that is far more environmentally friendly than cut-flowers and does not have the calories of chocolate? Say it with roses! 

There is probably no other flower that says romance than a rose. Give the gift of the fabulous Rose ‘With Love’. 

With Love is a stunning ivory coloured Floribunda rose that flowers all summer and produces a wonderful fragrance. Suitable for pots and for planting in the garden.  

Available in-store only.

We also have a lots of other roses with romance… Rose 'Romance' 



Move it 

If the soil is not frozen, now is the time to get moving, as in move plants that have outgrown their position or just in the wrong place. Deciduous shrubs must be moved while they are dormant, when they have no leaves.  

A mild February could result in early growth so it is best to get out early in the month and do the moving. Most shrubs and trees can be moved successfully provided that enough root can be dug up. 

Get as much rootball as possible, leave the soil around the roots so as to protect the smallest roots.  

For bigger plants it may be necessary to prune back some stems to get a better balance between stems and root system. 

Some plants dislike moving, Magnolia, Peony roses, Romneya coulteri and hellebores. Roses can be moved easily. 

Mix in some Farmyard Manure or soil conditioner when replanting. Add some RootGrow mycorrhizal fungi to the soil to help root systems establish in the new position. 

Rootgrow™ Mycorrhizal Fungi 150g ( 


Divide and Conquer 

Most herbaceous perennials can be lifted and divided at this time of the year. For older, bigger clumps it can be essential. 

As herbaceous perennial plants such as Delphinium, Monkshood and Lupins get older, they not only get too big for their space but also flowering can be poor.  

Dividing the plant can help rejuvenate an old clump.  

Use a spade to dig all the way around the clump, loosening the soil. Then lift out the whole clump. 

The next step is to sperate the clump into smaller parts, use two garden forks inserted back to back to lever apart big clumps. Then break bigger portions into smaller pieces, select pieces from the outside of the slump for replanting and discard the older pieces from the centre. 

Prepare soil for replanting by adding Gro-Sure Farmyard Manure, Westland Bio-Life Soil Improver or Westland Organic Chicken Manure Pellets 

Replant the divisions in clusters leaving 20-30cm between them, they will regrow to form a healthy vigorous clump over the summer.  

Extra pieces can be replanted to new positions. 


Sow Sweet Pea 

Sweet pea can be sown in a greenhouse, polytunnel or even on an indoor windowsill. Sow individually into small pots filled with multi-purpose compost such as our own Johnstown Multipurpose Compost with Added John Innes

See our huge range of Sweet Pea Seeds available in-store or online here Sweet Pea Seeds (

If you don’t have a greenhouse, plants can be sown on a windowsill and then moved to a coldframe or grow-house outdoors towards the end of the month. Coldframes and grow-houses are excellent investments for gardeners who want to grow some of their own lants from seeds. 

See some examples in the link here ->


Get The Spuds Ready! 

Early varieties of seed potatoes are available from mid-January, earlier crops of varieties such as Home Guard, Sharpes Express and Duke of York can be encouraged by chitting the seed potatoes. Basically, this means placing them in a frost-free bright place in a tray with the eyes facing upwards. The eyes should develop into short subby green shoots ready for planting in early March. If you have a green house or polytunnel they can be planted now for even earlier crops. 

A great range of vegetable seeds and seed potatoes are available from our online store for delivery nationwide.  

Snails and slugs 

During mild spells in February snails and slugs will start to be active, they will start munching on tender new shoots of emerging growth.  

Now is a good time to start slug and snail control, reducing their numbers before they start to mate and lay eggs. 

Environmentally friendly slug baits that contain Ferric Phosphate will not harm any other animal except slugs and snails. Scatter them sparingly around plants that need protection. Scatter the pellets around the base of hedges and where climbers are growing against wall, as snails are often found hiding beneath the growth of climbing plants. 

Tidying up clumps of fallen leaves from around the borders will also help with the control, but remember not to be too tidy, leaves left under hedges and bases of trees can be spots where hedgehogs are hibernating. 

Plant Snowdrops and other spring bulbs 

Don’t worry if you did not get around to planting spring flowering bulbs last autumn. Potted bulbs are a great way of adding a bit of extra colour to the garden and pots for the coming Spring. Snowdrops are amongst the first to bloom, and it is often recommended to plant them as plants rather than bulbs. From now on, and throughout the Spring we will have a range of potted bulbs perfect for adding a splash of colour. Snowdrops and Crocus will be first to bloom, closely followed by early blooming dwarf daffodils such as narcissus Tete-A-Tete. Don’t forget about spring flowering hardy cyclamen, C. coum with its dainty pink or white blooms. 


Don’t forget the birds 

During cold weather birds will need to consume more calories to keep warm, to leave out nutrient rich foods, and maybe put up an extra fatball feeder or suet feeder. If there are frosts or snow, they may find it difficult to forage for food. 

Nest boxes 

From mid-Februay onwards many birds will be started to build their nests. Existing nest boxes need to be cleaned out. 

Take down the nest box. Remove old nesting materials, be careful, there could be a lot of dust. Wear gloves. 

Clean the inside by pouring in boiling water, there is no need to use detergents. 

Consider introducing different nesting boxes, different birds prefer different shapes and sizes of entrance holes.  

Robin nesting box 

Robins like small but open boxes. 

Swift nesting box 

Swifts love long nesting boxes placed up high, with a small opening to hide in. 

Sparrow nesting box 

Sparrows are not too particular, but prefer small, square nests with a small entry hole. 

Blue tit nesting box 

Blue tits love small, round nesting boxes that look like holes in oak trees 

See our range of nesting boxes in-store or in our online shop.