Brian Kidd, retired Parks Officer for Portsmouth City Council, will be giving weekly gardening advice and answering gardeners emails. Email your gardening questions to



Keep an eye out for those lovely new plants you were given for Christmas, if the room is always warm, the plants will need more water than those in a cold room. To be sure, push the fingers into the top of the compost in the pot and water when the compost feels dry. Cyclamen prefer a cool room with plenty of light but not in a sunny window. If leaves on the poinsettia are yellow at the bottom of the plant, they are being over watered.


Seeds of holly can be sown now. Squeeze the berries onto a post card or piece of cardboard and after a week, the seeds can be picked out of the squashed flesh and sown in a seed tray of seed compost. They need no heat, simply put them outdoors somewhere out of the way of cats and if kept moist, the seeds will germinate in April.

If you don’t want to sow the seeds, push the stems of the holly used for winter decoration into the soil in a border and the blackbirds will soon eat them.

Sow seeds of mistletoe, squeeze the berries onto the bark of a tree. Malus and apple trees often have mistletoe growing on them. Lime trees are another good host tree.

Prick over the soil where the spring flowering bedding plans such as polyanthus, forget me nots and winter flowering pansies were planted, this will encourage a good root action because the surface compaction will be broken.

Try to get on with digging and manuring where potatoes, peas and beans are to be planted. Manure is in stock at Keydell and a member of staff will take it to your car if you ask. You will find it in handy bags.

Make a note of the additional minutes of light we are now experiencing, put a note in the gardening diary of plants which are looking good. It’s good to read what happened now in a few years time.

Sow exhibition onions from seeds in the propagator in the greenhouse, seeds of onions sown now are far less likely to go to seed quickly in early summer. The seeds are just inside the entrance at Keydell Nurseries.

To keep the little ones occupied, get them to jot down the names of birds visiting the garden. If there are none, buy some wild bird food and you will be amazed how they arrive to feed. Have a look at the wide range of bird foods at Keydell and you will see the names of the birds which will be attracted to your garden.