Happy New Year! Where did 2016 go? What does 2017 hold? In the garden let’s hope it’s as beautiful and successful as every gardener always imagines it to be. That’s the great thing about January – there’s everything to gain and nothing to lose. All the horticultural possibilities of the new year are ready and waiting. So let’s get cracking!

Literally…

Don’t forget in frozen weather to break the ice on ponds to allow air to circulate in the water and also birds and other creatures to benefit from a drink. However, be gentle about it. If you have fish in your pond, use a hot saucepan on the surface of the ice to melt a hole, as smashing through the ice will cause them distress and harm.

Scoop out any dead and decaying leaves and debris too to keep the water clear.

Cut back dead growth…

If you decided to leave some of last season’s growth intact for winter structure and wildlife then start to look around the garden to assess what might need cutting back now.

Plants like hellebore which flower early, will need their old leaves cut back to expose the new flowers coming through. Look out for hellebore leaf spot, too, and remove any foliage showing signs of the brown spots. Burn or dispose of it in council green waste collections – don’t leave it near the plants as this will perpetuate the problem.

You can also start to cut back old growth on grasses and irises, as the new growth starts to appear.

You can also cut back stems on willow now, removing older, crossing or damaged stems to the ground. If you have sedums that were left over winter, cut the old growth down to ground level being careful not to cut the new growth.

Divide and multiply…

On milder days herbaceous perennials can be lifted, divided and replanted to increase your plant stock. Discard any old or weak parts – the strongest growth is usually on the outside of the clump. If the clump is very dense use a sharp spade to split the clump and water in well once replanted.

Now for the good bit – planting new things!

Even though its cold and damp you can plant bare root roses now and raspberry canes. Shrubs and trees can also be planted while they are dormant. It’s also a good time to plant a hedge.

Don’t forget the seed catalogues, too. Start planning what you’d like to order for the flower and vegetable gardens, as before you know it spring will have sprung.

Mulch…

Don’t forget to mulch and add nourishment to the soil if you haven’t done so already; a good mulch will improve the soil’s structure, retain moisture, supress weeds and enhance growth.

So, if the sun shines (or if you’re a hardy specimen yourself and garden in all weathers) then we hope you enjoy your garden this new year!