The ground might be as hard as iron but there are still things to be done in the winter garden – though it’s understandable if you’d rather be inside by a warm fireside/ central heating with a glass of mulled wine!
Batten down the hatches…
Make sure all the structures in the garden are well secured in prepartion for winter storms. This includes not only garden supports like pergolas, obelisks and frames, but also things like trampolines! Many a gusty night has seen these bouncy structures end up wrapped around things they shouldn’t be! Protect tender plants like tree ferns and make sure they are insulated from cold and damp with horticultural fleece or straw.
Now’s the time to prune open-structure apple and pear trees, as you can clearly see the shape through the bear branches. For more advice see the RHS link here.
Pruning and cutting back…
You can still prune and cut back, or even move, deciduous shrubs and trees while they are dormant, ready to grow with renewed vigour next season. It’s also a good time to take any hard wood cuttings you’d like, to increase your plant supply. However acers, birches and vines all need to be pruned before the new year, to prevent bleeding.
If you’re on heavy clay soil, the winter months are the perfect time to dig over any compacted beds (provided there hasn’t been a really hard frost, which will make digging very difficult or impossible). The work of breaking up clumps of soil will be hastened over the winter by the action of further frosts and rain, as well as the worms. If you can add a good mulch of compost, well rotted manure or leaf mould then so much the better.
Let in snow…
In our milder winters, snow can be an unpredictable arrival, but if it does blanket the garden make sure to clear it from the greenhouse roof to avoid damaging the glass. Likewise, avoid walking on the grass too much in snowy weather (or generally in wet winter weather) as this will compact and spoil the lawn. If you have a pond remember to break the ice up gently to allow oxygen to flow or place a ball on the surface. You might also want to lag outdoor pipes and taps to prevent frost damage if the temperatures really plummet.
If you have evergreen shrubs like holly, bay or any other evergreen foliage in the garden then consider making a home made wreath, by the fire with that glass of mulled wine! Merry Christmas.