Maintaining your garden in winter
Happy New Year! The perfect time to get outside and start preparing your garden for Spring. Start with recycling your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch; clean pots and greenhouses, dig over any vacant plots and disperse worm casts in lawns. Plus, don’t forget to keep putting out food and water for hungry birds!
Sow seeds of Begonia, Lobelia, Salvia and Pelargonium in a heated greenhouse or propagator to provide early plants.
Sweet peas can be sown this month. Sweet peas sown earlier in the autumn can now be potted on taking care not to disturb the roots too much. Place them on a sunny windowsill, or on a high shelf in the greenhouse that gets plenty of light.
This is the last chance to sow seeds that need frost in order to germinate (such as native tree and shrub seeds, and alpine plants).
Plant lily bulbs in pots and in borders during mild spells.
Cut off old leaves of hellebores that produce flowers from ground level to expose the flowers.
Cut away some Iris unguicularis leaves to expose the flowers.
Root cuttings can be taken now. Papaver (perennial poppies), Verbascum (mullein), Acanthus and Phlox are suitable examples.
Start cutting back grasses and other perennials left for winter interest. Alternatively you can leave them a few more months to provide cover for wildlife.
In mild areas, and during dry spells, you can still lift and divide herbaceous perennials. This will increase stocks, and revive tired or poorly flowering clumps.
Rake up any winter debris and leaves off your borders to keep them tidy. Clear up any weedy beds ready for mulching in the spring.
Collect leaves that have blown over alpine beds as these plants are easily smothered. Bare patches can be covered with gritty compost.
Even in mild areas, tender plants that cannot be left outside with protection should really be taken into the greenhouse or conservatory by the beginning of this month. In cold areas, you are best moving things inside much earlier, in the autumn.
In cold spells, protect non frost-proof containers (terracotta pots for example) with bubble wrap, hessian or fleece, to prevent them cracking. Grouping the pots close to a south-facing wall may provide additional protection to the most vulnerable ones
Ensure protective straw or fleece is still in place on tender plants overwintering outdoors.