‘THE fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever,

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In one another’s being mingle-

Why not I with thine?

In Shelley’s 1819 poem The Fountains Mingle with the River his main theme is the relationship between the connections that exist for all things in the natural world. Nature will take it own course no matter what.

Arguably the greatest gardener of modern times, Geoffrey Smith, said ‘a plant’s memory is far stronger than ours’. The tulips we planted will flower come spring no matter what. Likewise, roses will flower in summer and the chrysanthemum in autumn.

The weather follows its own pattern. The constant gales and heavy rains of the past few months have tested the resilience of gardeners across the country. It has been hard to cope with the constant onslaught of the extremes. Gardeners are a hardy people who, like the tulip, wait and endure for better weather and the spring to come.

In the greenhouse seed can be sown. If electricity is available in a greenhouse seed can be sown in boxes of John Innes seed compost and placed in a heated propagator or on a heat mat set at 65F (18C). The greenhouse temperature should be set lower at around 50F (10C). Seeds can be sown early to good advantage including sweet peas; geraniums; dahlias; delphiniums; basil; begonias tuberous and bedding types; chillies and aubergines; petunias and anthuriums. Seed placed in boxes of John Innes seed compost and placed in a heated propagator or on a heat mat set at 65F (18C). The greenhouse temperature should be set lower at around 50F (10C). Alternatively a window box propagator is a cheap alternative. It can be simply placed near a radiator in the kitchen by the kitchen window - easy peasy lemon squeezee!

But make sure the inside of the greenhouse has been thoroughly cleaned before you begin. Regular cleaning of the windows outside will let more light in.

Out of doors or indoor grapevines need to be pruned whilst still dormant. I prune mine back to two to three eyes. Hard pruning will produce strong growth but no fruit.

Delphiniums are a delightful edition to any garden. Plants require a fertile well drained soil in a site with full sun. Place them 3ft (90cm) apart in groups of three to five for best effect. Soil preparation is the key to success with all plants. The land should have well rotted manure incorporated in. They are best planted in spring, but can be planted at anytime as long as the land is not frozen. Plugs bought in spring are a good buy.

My Gardner this month is Paul Marshall of Brighouse. Paul is a gardener of a vast experience. He began at Kershaw’s Roses at Brighouse in the day before garden centres had been invented - they were known as nurseries back then.

Paul transcended Kershaw’s into what we all know these days as a garden centre. After many years he became municipal nursery manager at Halifax. However Paul is not a man to rest on his laurels, he became nursery manager for a neighbouring borough at the same time, thus managing both.

Paul’s men held him in high regard. He has now steered Friends of Brighouse railway station to the brink of a gold award, in the Community Rail Network National It’s Your Station Competition. This involves horticulture and community involvement. Colourful plants all round the station platforms have brought complements from punters who use Brighouse station. The Friends are now waiting for the IYSC results to be announced in March.

For a flowering display all year round look no further than heathers. Flowering all through the winter they come in a range of colours and are a great ground cover plant. They like a slightly acidic soil to grow well with a PH of 6.5 or less. Ideally 5.5. Place 10in (25cm) apart to provide excellent ground weed free cover. Plant in March, a trowel width 25cm (10in) apart. For best effect plant in irregular blocks of the same variety and colour. Several of the same can be planted this way.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Peter's book looks back on his life in gardeningPeter's book looks back on his life in gardening (Image: Peter Fawcett)

Finally I have seen signs already of early spring. In the greenhouse cuttings I took last September are responding to the extra little bit of light that is now on the way since the darkest day of Yule of December 21 - their memory is far stronger than ours.

* To order Peter’s book, Gardener’s Delight, email peterfawcett0@gmail.com or call Spenborough Stationers on (01274) 873026.