TASKS TO DO IN YOUR GARDEN IN JANUARY
  • Check crops that are in store and discard any showing signs of rot.
  • Trim back ivy and Virginia creeper from around windows and guttering.
  • Clear away dead foliage from perennials, chop it up and add to the compost heap.
  • Remove weeds from borders, and dig deeply to sieve out roots of perennial weeds, such as bindweed, ground elder and couch grass.
  • Improve compacted soil by mixing in extra compost. Take care not to walk on or dig up spring bulbs.
  • Spread a layer of compost over borders, around shrubs and along the base of hedges as a mulch.
  • Give fruit trees a winter wash with Armillatox  to kill overwintering greenfly.
  • Force rhubarb by digging up a crown and replanting it in total darkness or placing a large bin over the existing crop.
  • Plant roses in well-prepared ground.
  • Trim away unwanted suckers from tree bases.
  • Tidy up piles of flowerpots and debris that could harbour snails.
  • Raise patio containers on feet or bricks, to ensure their compost drains properly.
  • Avoid walking on lawns covered with heavy frost, as you'll kill the grass.
  • Provide birds with fresh water and food.
  • Fork compost into the soil and clear old crops from the veg plot.
  • Getting your garden into shape.

Winter pruning check-list it’s important to remember that cutting back flowering trees and shrubs severely at the wrong time may lead to the loss of a whole season’s floral display. The standard advice I would give is to check the precise pruning requirement for each individual tree and shrub before reaching for the secateurs or shears. The number one rule is to buy good quality tools and make sure they are sharp.  Winter prune wisteria .Vigorous wisteria needs pruning twice a year if it is to flower well. Cut back all the long whippy growth that has been made during the summer and prune again in July to encourage the development of flowering spurs.

Flower of the month: Daphne.
This might sound a bit odd but if you’re a committed gardener you will know what I mean. If I were going to be reincarnated I think I would like to some back as a Daphne. Anybody who is familiar with Daphnes will know why, and if you haven’t got a Daphne in your garden, consider it incomplete. There is no excuse to have at least one they are quiet, easy to grow in the midlands and they like a bit of shelter from the prevailing winds as they flower in winter early spring. Not too shaded and will grow in any reasonable soil. Most of us can accommodate these requirements. There are many different varieties of Daphnes, Daphne mezereum being the most freely available, growing to about 4 feet, covered with highly scented lilac blooms early spring. There is an exquisite dwarf variety called Retusa which flowers in May/June. Not easy to get but well worth putting your name down on a waiting list. My favourite Daphne is Daphne Bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ which is evergreen, now going into its third week and will flower for at least another 3 or 4 weeks. The scent is heavenly, plant one if you can near your house where you might pass by in winter (i.e. on the way to the turf shed) I guarantee it will shorten your winter.

January