Trees, Shrubs and Roses
- Deciduous trees can be pruned in winter, removing low branches to lift the crown of the tree or removing branches that are too big. In general, the top of a garden tree should not be cut off. Be careful: tree pruning is specialised work and can be very dangerous.
- Do not prune members of the cherry family in winter as it can lead to disease.
- Trees, shrubs and roses can be planted during this period, especially bare-root trees, but also container-grown plants. Root-balled evergreens should not be planted until nearer the resumption of active growth.
- Rose bushes can be pruned from now on. Early pruning is not a risk in most parts of the country. In very frosty areas, pruning might be delayed for a few weeks still, but even then the chances of significant damage in our climate are very slim.
- Control weeds around deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges to prevent weeds this summer. It is best applied before the end of January.
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Trees | Shrubs | Hedges | Mixed borders
- If you are not the tidying kind, flower borders have probably become a bit dishevelled at this stage. You can either remove plant debris to the compost heap, or simply cut it up, or pull it away, and leave it lying on the soil surface around the plants.
- There are several advantages to this approach, not least of which is the reduction in effort, but is also feeds the plants, keeps down weeds, increases moisture retention and provides hiding places for beneficial insects such as ground beetles.
- Stems that are still good can be left longer for their decorative value.
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Perennial flowers | Flower beds | Rockery | Containers
- If there is a dry spell during this month, take the opportunity to give the lawn a run with the lawn-mower. It is amazing how much grass growth there will have been since the previous mowing, especially in southern areas.
- Also take the mower for servicing and sharpening - this lengthens the life of the machine and makes the job of mowing much easier. And it reduces the carbon footprint of your mower.
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Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs
- Apple and pear pruning can be carried out during these weeks, if not already done, also blackcurrant, gooseberry and raspberry bushes can be pruned, if necessary.
- Pruning of these fruits keeps the trees and bushes to a reasonable size and improves the quality of the fruit borne.
- In dry weather, any planned compost or manure spreading and digging can be carried out.
- If you wish to grow the earliest vegetable crops, sow seeds of early cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and peas under protection during the next two or three weeks.
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Fruit growing | Vegetables | Herbs
Greenhouse and House Plants
- If you have a heated propagator for starting off flower seeds, this is the time to sow some of the kinds that need an early start such as pelargoniums, petunias, begonias and bedding busy lizzies.
- Water greenhouse grapevines and peach trees heavily in the next few weeks to encourage them to make an early start to growth. An early start means early flowering and earlier ripening.
- Watch for signs of pests, which can build up rapidly in a greenhouse early in the season.
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