Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

Garden Jobs in January

January, a New Year and a perfect excuse to get outside and work off some of the excesses of the festive period!

Here’s a list of important jobs to be getting on with this month:

Flowers

  • Take root cuttings of perennials such as oriental poppies, Acanthus and Verbascums
  • Clear away collapsed stems of perennials
  • Take hardwood cuttings from deciduous shrubs such as forsythia and willow
  • Deadhead winter bedding regularly
  • Continue pruning climbing roses whilst they are dormant
  • Protect plants that are vulnerable to wind and cold
  • Clear out the crowns of plants of damp leaves to prevent rotting

Fruit and Veg

  • Cover soil with fleece or cloches to warm if you plan to sow early crops
  • Prune apple and pear trees to remove any dead, damaged and diseased branches
  • Cover rhubarb plants with a bucket or terracotta pot to force an early crop of tender long stems
  • Order seed potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic bulbs for planting in spring

Greenhouse

  • Sow winter salads in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill and they will be ready for harvesting within a few weeks
  • Move strawberry plants in pots under cover to encourage early fruits
  • Check overwintering plants regularly for pests and moulds and take action where necessary
  • Bring potted peaches into the greenhouse to avoid leaf curl disease
  • Ensure the greenhouse is kept frost free by installing a thermostatically controlled fan heater
  • Start sowing seeds of hardy annuals in pots or trays for early flowering
  • Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days to prevent humidity building up

Garden Maintenance

  • Top up bird baths with fresh water daily
  • Clean out and scrub bird feeders regularly to maintain hygiene
  • Provide high-energy food for birds to help them through the winter months
  • Keep small areas of ponds free from ice
  • Repair any damaged fences and trellis
  • Service the lawn mower whilst it’s not in use
  • Clean and sharpen your tools, including hoes, secateurs and shears, and spray metal tools with oil
  • Give empty pots and seed trays a thorough scrubbing ready for the start of the sowing season
  • Order seeds and summer-flowering bulbs
Callicarpa bodinieri 'Imperial pearl'

Garden Jobs in December

The days are getting shorter with the temperatures plummeting at the moment. However it can still be a pleasure to be out in the garden, especially on clear frosty, sunny days. The garden takes on a different appearance during winter months, as the layers of perennials have died down it is the evergreens which take up the baton. In any garden it is important to have structure that will provide stability through the seasons.

There can still be colour around too, with winter-flowering heathers, Jasminum nudiflorum and Hamamelis mollis. Along with berries on shrubs such as Callicarpa and Ilex  aquifolium and colourful stems of trees  such as Betula and Acer griseum.

Flowers

  • Continue to cut back faded herbaceous perennials and add them to the compost heap.
  • If the weather remains mild, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials. This will increase stocks, and revive tired or poorly flowering clumps.
  • Root cuttings can be taken now, such as Papaver (perennial poppies), Phlox and Anemones.
  • Order seed catalogues, if you have not done so already, to select next year’s bedding and perennial choices.
  • Bring forced bulbs into a warm room to encourage them to flower.

Fruit and veg

  • Place straw around the base of parsnips to prevent the soil freezing, which can make harvesting difficult.
  • Winter prune large fruit trees to control their shape and size, and to increase fruiting productivity for next year.
  • Plan next year’s crops and order seeds .

Greenhouse

  • Pick faded leaves and dead flowers regularly from plants overwintering in the greenhouse, such as pelargoniums.
  • Check that greenhouse heaters are working.
  • If the weather is mild, ventilate the greenhouse.

Garden maintenance

  • Scoop fallen leaves and debris from ponds, leave on the side so pond-life can escape, then add to the compost bin.
  • Insulate outdoor taps and prevent ponds from freezing.
  • Protect terracotta pots from cracking in freezing weather by either bringing them indoors or wrapping in bubble polythene.
  • Raise outdoor patio containers onto feet or bricks to avoid them sitting in the winter wet.
  • Rake up fallen leaves in borders that could be harbouring slugs and other pests.
  • Clean paths to prevent then becoming slippery and repair sheds, fences and trellises.
  • Avoid walking on lawns covered with frost.
Autumnal Tree colour

Garden Jobs in November

Cool, misty mornings and the last leaves clinging to the trees make this a beautiful and melancholy time of year. Ensure that you take some time in between carrying out the tasks below to make the most of this month.

Flowers

  • Plant the last of your autumn bulbs. Tulip bulbs can be planted in pots and borders. Ensure they are covered with at least twice their depth of soil or compost
  • Lift dahlias tubers after the first frost, clean them off and store in dry compost in a cool, frost-proof place
  • Plant bare-root hedging, roses, trees and shrubs, before the weather turns too cold

Fruit and veg

  • Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries to the ground after they have been harvested
  • Plant garlic, shallots and onions, then cover with fleece

Greenhouse

  • Insulate the greenhouse with bubble wrap
  • Check greenhouse plants regularly for any overwintering pests
  • Thoroughly clean greenhouse staging and glazing with disinfectant
  • Ventilate the greenhouse when the weather allows, particularly after watering and when paraffin heaters are used at night

Garden maintenance

  • Check bonfires carefully before lighting to make sure there isn’t any wildlife sheltering inside
  • Continue to mow the lawn if the grass is still growing and the weather is mild but raise the height of the blades
  • Collect any fallen leaves, especially from lawns and ponds, and place in bin bags. Add some water if the leaves are dry and then puncture the bag with a fork. Leave them to decompose into leaf mould
  • Raise outside containers onto pot feet to prevent waterlogging and wrap bubble wrap or hessian around pots outside to protect from frost damage
July Flower border

Garden Jobs in July

At this time of year the garden should be looking great, with plenty of seasonal colour and interest. Hopefully with more warm sunny evenings on their way, it will allow plenty of time in which to relax and enjoy the garden.

Although there are plenty of jobs to do this month, these can be undertaken at a more leisurely pace.

Flowers

  • Stake taller perennials;
  • Feed, water and deadhead bedding plants and repeat-flowering perennials, to ensure continuous flowering;
  • Cut back early summer perennials, such as hardy geraniums and delphiniums, after flowering for a second flush;
  • Deadhead roses regularly and feed to keep them flowering strongly;
  • Give dahlias a liquid feed and keep them well watered;
  • Water and feed sweet peas regularly, pick the flowers every few days, and remove seed pods to prolong flowering;
  • Look out for pests such as lily beetles, snails, aphids and vine weevils, and remove them before they do much harm;
  • Sow biennials, such as foxgloves, honesty, forget-me-nots and wallflowers for colour next year;
  • Plant autumn bulbs such as nerines and colchicums in pots and borders;

Fruit and Veg

  • Water fruit trees and bushes, then lay a thick mulch of garden compost around their base to hold in moisture;
  • Check crops such as runner beans regularly for aphids, and rub or wash them off straight away, before they multiply;
  • Cover brassicas with fine netting to prevent cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves;
  • Peg down strawberry runners into pots of compost to root new plants;
  • Pick courgettes regularly so they don’t turn into marrows;
  • Sow small batches of fast-maturing salad leaves, rocket and radishes every few weeks for continuous pickings;
  • Cut down broad beans after harvesting, but leave the roots in the soil to release nitrogen as they decompose;

Greenhouse

  • Keep well ventilated – open doors and roof windows and apply shading if necessary;
  • Continue pinching out any side-shoots growing from the leaf joints of cordon tomatoes;
  • Water tomatoes daily to prevent drying out, which can lead to split fruits and blossom end rot;
  • Feed tomatoes, chillies and cucumbers with high-potash tomato fertiliser every week to encourage fruiting;
  • Train the main stem of cucumbers up supports and pinch out side-shoots two leaves after a flower or fruit;

Garden maintenance

    • Hoe and hand-weed borders often, in order that weeds won’t have time to set seed;
    • Top up bird baths, ponds and water features during hot weather;
    • Water new trees, shrubs and perennials planted in spring, to help them through dry spells;
    • Keep mowing lawns regularly, but raise the cutting height to leave the grass longer during dry weather;
    • Water hanging baskets and patio containers daily, in the morning or evening is preferable;
    • Deadhead bedding plants, sweet peas and annuals every few days to encourage more flowers;
    • Trim lavender after flowering to keep plants compact and bushy, but avoid cutting into old wood;

There are also some lovely inspiring gardens to visit at this time of year:

Wakehurst Place, West Sussex
Nymans, West Sussex
RHS Wisley, Woking, Surrey
Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey

…and don’t forget that The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is on from 2nd to 7th July this month!