Gardening tips


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.