The days are short, and temperatures may plummet, but 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 and Jasminum nudiflorum, Hamamelis mollis and Iris unguicularis. Along with berries and colourful stems of trees and shrubs.
Here is a list of important jobs to do this month.
- Plant some winter-flowering species such as hellebores, winter pansies and violas, and if soil conditions allow, plant fragrant shrubs such as Sarcococca ruscifolia, Daphne bholua or Viburnum farreri, and Cornus (dogwoods) for winter stem colour
- Plant deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs if the ground is not frozen
- Continue to harvest winter vegetables such as Savoy cabbages, Brussel sprouts and parsnips
- Leave grasses uncut to provide frosted architectural interest to the garden
- Prune ornamental and edible grape vines pre-Christmas to prevent ‘bleeding’ (excessive sap loss)
- Prune apple and pear trees now to let in more air and light
- Prune overgrown deciduous hedges including beech and hornbeam
- Coppice trees and shrubs such as hazel
- Feed birds regularly, disinfect feeding tables and water dishes to avoid spreading disease and do not allow ponds, water features and bird baths to freeze over
- Insulate outdoor taps and any exposed pipework to protect them from freezing in cold spells
- Ventilate glasshouses on mild days to protect against grey mould (Botrytis)
- This is the last chance to protect plants and pots vulnerable to frost damage. Use bark mulches or straw and fleece to protect garden plants if temperatures plummet
- Garden planning – If it’s too cold to be outside then it is a good idea to plan ahead and consider plants you want to grow and features to be created in your garden for next year. Now is also a good time to check if there is enough structure in the garden, aim for at least one third evergreens, to provide interest during this season. You may want to call on the services of a garden designer to help you design your whole garden, part of your garden or just to revamp a tired looking planting border. Nows the time to plan, so you can have a wonderful looking garden in time for summer.