The days are getting shorter with the temperatures dropping 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Scoop fallen leaves and debris from ponds, leave them on the side so pond life can escape, and then add them 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 them 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 them from becoming slippery and repair sheds, fences and trellises.
- Avoid walking on lawns covered with frost.