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Winter does not mean that the garden has to become a no-go zone. We do not believe that a garden needs to be ‘put to bed’ as there are so many jobs still to do and plants to enjoy. Here are some of our ideas on the kind of tasks that can be accomplished before spring.
January and February are a good time to start some pruning. Apples, wisteria, vines and figs can all be tidied up and tied in to strong wire. Summer-flowering shrubs such as Weigela, Spiraea, Kolkwitzia and Philadelphus should be pruned soon after flowering in the summer; this means strong shoots for the following year and lots of flowers. However, if you did not get round to this particular job, and it is easy to forget, just take out some of the old wood now to get increase new growth for the spring, but remember to leave the newer growth as this is where the flowering buds will be.
Pruning is probably one of our favourite gardening jobs and we love nothing more than working on a mad tangle of Wisteria, Clematis or an unruly apple tree. Remember to take pruning in stages, better to go slowly and prune a bit at a time, and keep standing back to get a good look at your work because you can always cut off more, but you can’t stick it back on. A lesson I have learned the hard way on a few occasions!
It’s also a good time to think about what seeds to sow this year. By the end of January we will be sowing seed for peas and early carrots as well as chillies and squash. We have been promised a freezing winter with sustained low temperatures, but at the moment there is no sign of this but it’s probably best to prepare just in case by protecting any plants you would normally protect and keeping your new seedlings in a relatively temperate spot.
Winter is a good time to mulch your borders thickly to help them to retain moisture throughout the summer, to enrich the soil and to improve the look of your planting areas. We use well rotted bark, however mushroom or other compost can also work as well as stones and gravel Mulch also helps to suppress weeds and will eventually help a heavy clay soil to become more workable as worms pull the organic matter down into the soil.
Now is also a great time to attack any cleaning and repair jobs. Take a good look at all your fencing and paving which might need attention or if the frost has got to any stonework make sure to get it repaired, especially in Bath where we have so many old stone walls that can be susceptible to damage. Invest in a good jet washer, they are invaluable for cleaning any external timber or stone, especially after the wet weather we have been having, as everything turns green so quickly.
You might also be thinking about changing your garden altogether this year, we can help with our very popular consultation service, where you can get advice and a written report to help you to understand your garden better and have a working plan of action.