What to do in the January winter garden
Remember the mild weather on Christmas day? Folklore suggests that if mild weather prevails over Christmas, there will be cold weather at Easter, which falls on 16 April this year. Luckily, the old superstition that a Christmas without snow will be followed by illness and many deaths (A green winter makes a fat churchyard) seems to be without any factual foundation, although it is generally believed that cold weather helps to kill off bacteria and unwanted bugs.
Bacteria are often killed by a bout of cold weather. Long-range weather forecasts are notoriously difficult to predict, but at some point during the winter there will be at least a sprinkling of snow. Indeed, many parts of the country are freezing and already have experienced a fair smattering of snow and sleet is on the way for most of us. Snow can damage plants. It is heavy and can snap branches of young trees and change the shape of hedges. Sweep snow off shrubs once it starts piling up, but allow it to stay on beds and borders where it will help to keep things warm. Snow can keep plants warm and cosy underneath but can be damaging to trees, shrubs and hedges.
Tackle the hedges in winter
January and February are great months in which to prune hedges, provided they are free from snow. Prune Laurel and deciduous hedges quite hard before the spring growth spurt. Prune Yew and many other evergreen plants but beware of conifers such as Leylandii that need to be lightly trimmed more regularly. Some trees will grow back happily from old wood, whilst many conifers will not. Seen some brown patches in conifer hedges? It's generally because they have been allowed to get too big and have eventually been pruned back into old wood.
Yew can be trimmed right back into the old wood and will regenerate. It's a great hedging plant.
Feed the hungry birds in winter
The winter is a hungry season for wildlife. Give them a hand by putting out bird food and, just as importantly, water. You'll be surprised how fast the wild birds will find their new feed supply. There's a SALE of garden feeding products and nesting boxes for ONE WEEK ONLY. Click HERE to see the bargains.
This attractive white wooden nesting box with the heart-shaped hole is just £4.68 (+p&p) in the sale
Clean out bird boxes
Clean out any bird boxes! Although we are in the depths of winter, many birds will already be looking for a mate and they will soon need to choose a nesting site.
Prune Group 3 (late flowering) Clematis down to around 40cms.
You can prune Grouup 3 Clematis in the winter Prune Viburnum tinus and bodnantense after flowering.
Viburnum tinus is a great shrub that has creamy-coloured flowers and purple/black fruits. It can be pruned in winter. Prune Wisteria and winter jasmine.
Plant bare root trees, hedges and roses
It's the best month for planting bareroot trees and hedges, including fruit trees, but ensure the ground isn't frozen. You can still plant bare root roses!
Plan your garden
It's a great month for planning. You can see the bare structure of your plot in winter. Look for gaps and decide what would look good in the space.
Gardens in winter can be beautiful. It's a great time to see what changes you need to make.
Notice the flowers!
Snowdrops are some of winter's iconic beauties.
snowdrops can still be planted ready for flowering in January and February
Enjoy the emergence of bulbs! Snowdrop bulbs will emerge through the frozen ground and should be flowering in January through to late February.
Enjoy a winter garden visit
Hellebores are some of winter's most iconic flowers. The Lenten Rose stays close to the ground in order to keep away from the coldest weather.
Feeling starved of outdoor light and air this winter? Its time to step out and enjoy all the season has to offer. January is a great month in which to appreciate the shapes of trees. There are plenty of Hellebores and snowdrops to enjoy at ground level, but also flowering shrubs such as Viburnum bodnantense; Sarcococca; Hamamelis and Daphne including the irresistible 'Jacqueline Postill' which are in full bloom right now. Head to Broadview Gardens, at Hadlow College, Hadlow, near Tonbridge (www.hadlow.ac.uk
), where the National Collection of Hellebores, often known as the Christmas or Lenten Rose is displayed within delightful gardens. These flowers nod gently in the wintery weather throughout January and through to March.
Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn' is blooming right now and it smells amazing! Also well worth a visit are the bright winter gardens of some of the National Trust's beautiful gardens including Polesden Lacey in Surrey. They were designed by the late English botanist Graham Stuart Thomas. Here, the bright yellow aconites beneath Persian ironwood trees with their blood red buds are captivating. Of course the National Trust is a treasure trove for the garden-lover, with more than 200 gardens to be explored and enjoyed throughout all seasons.
Winter aconite: Eranthis, appear in the depths of winter when snow can still be on the ground. The cheerful yellow flowers are a sight to warm the heart.
Gardens not to be missed around the country:
The iconic Capabiity Brown landscape garden at Stowe in Buckinghamshire; the sub-tropical 'paradise' at Trebah Gardens in Cornwall, rated among the finest gardens in the world; the stunning watery landscape of Stourhead in Wiltshire; the William Kent garden at Rousham House in Oxfordshire. And dozens more, with something to suit every walking boot.
Trebah Gardens in Cornwall is a beautiful sub-tropical space. Whether you visit gardens or merely enjoy meandering country footpaths, theres plenty to enjoy when the bare bones of the season allow you to see details that are lost amongst the lush canopy of the growing season.