In the flower garden…
• Start to winter-prune your Wisteria, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
• Prune climbing roses now, cutting away diseased or damaged growth and tying in any new shoots to their supports. Prune older flowered shoots back by two thirds of their length.
• Prune Acers (Japanese Maples) and vines now if needed, as they will bleed sap if pruning is done any later.
• Leave the faded flower heads on your hydrangeas until the spring, as they will provide frost protection to the swelling buds further down the stems.
• Move containers of tender shrubs and bedding plants to a sheltered spot; clustering them together helps protect the root systems from suffering frost damage.
• Lift and store dahlia tubers once their leaves are blackened by frost.
• Check climbers are securely attached with plant ties to their supports.
• Plant up winter containers with hardy cyclamen, pansies, violas and small evergreens such as Skimmia and Carex grasses.
• Plant some shrubs for winter interest. Sarcococca confusa adds colour and fragrance to your garden at this time of year.
• If you still haven’t planted your tulip bulbs there is still time, provided the ground isn’t frozen.
In the fruit garden…
• Now is the perfect time to prune fruit trees to maintain an open, balanced structure and encourage quality fruit production.
• However plums, cherries and stoned fruits should not be pruned until the summer as winter pruning will make them susceptible to silver leaf fungus.
• Prune grape vines.
• Protect wall trained peaches and nectarines from wet weather which spreads the peach leaf curl virus.
• Protect the tips of fig tree branches with fleece as these will carry the fruits for next year and are susceptible to frost.
• Plant raspberry canes now, whilst they are dormant.
• Plant blueberries this winter for an attractive addition to the fruit garden.
In the vegetable garden…
• Lift the last of your leeks and parsnips before the soil becomes frozen, and heel them in to a trench beside a convenient path. They will keep well for several months like this.
• Lift and divide established clumps of rhubarb to renew the vigour. Outside sections are better than those in the centre.
• Remove yellowing leaves on brassicas.
• Dig over empty borders and pile manure on top – let the worms and frosts break up the clods of soil.
• Try digging a trench where you will begin growing your beans next year – fill it with compostable kitchen waste (not cooked food) and cover with soil again. This will rot down and improve the growing conditions for your beans next year.
• Cover winter brassicas with netting to protect them from pigeons.
Looking after your lawn…
• Avoid walking on your lawn when it’s blanketed by heavy frost or snow, as this will damage the grass beneath.
• If it’s a mild winter, continue to cut the lawn if it is still growing, but raise the height of the mower blades.
• Spike lawns with a garden fork to improve drainage and aeration.
• Keep clearing leaves off the lawn to prevent dead patches appearing.