What to do in your garden in January
Cold January days are the perfect opportunity for planning your garden for the following year. The snowdrops are beginning to emerge from the ground, scented shrubs are beginning to flourish and Hellebores begin to show their faces in the shadiest patches of the garden.
1. Continue to clear away any decaying perennials from your borders to deter slugs and snails and allow spring bulbs to grow fully. Empty compost heaps that are ready to use as mulch and spread it on the garden. This will enrich your soil and provide you with healthy plants later in the year.
2. Ensure that you continue to water pots and containers – particularly window boxes and containers that sit on balconies or the lee of the house. Containers planted with bulbs should be given a good water at least twice a week. Try not to water during periods of heavy frost and ensure tender plants are protected with fleece or hessian.
3. Bare root trees and shrubs can be planted now, if the weather is good. Try planting scented shrubs such as Sarcococca confusa and Daphne odora by paths and doorways to enjoy their sweet scent.
4. Garden birds are active throughout the winter months. Ensure that bird tables and feeders are kept clean and topped up with food regularly.
5. Remove old hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge. I can never resist cutting a few stems for the house. Simply cut and sear the tips of the stems in boiling water for 30 seconds, before placing them straight into cold water. They will last in a vase for at least a week and cast away January blues.
6. Plant amaryllis bulbs in pots now for beautiful indoor flowers. Other potted plants such as hyacinths, iris and narcissus (available pre-grown from most garden centers) can also be brought into the house for striking, scented indoor displays.
7. Check dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rot. Make sure that they remain dry and are not exposed to frost.
8. Rose bushes can be pruned whilst they are dormant, cutting them back just above a bud. Dead branches should be cut out and any crossing branches removed. Ensure that wires, trellises and fences are strong and secure. Any loose branches should be secured with strong twine.
9. Wisteria can be pruned now. Cut back shoots by two or three buds on a lateral stem for a healthy blooms in Spring. I prune my wisteria twice a year, to keep it strong and full of flowers in May.
10. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy planning for the year to come. Look at old gardening books and seed catalogues for inspiration. Always remember to be realistic about the size of your garden and the time you have available. When ordering vegetable seeds, order varieties that you know are reliable and that you will make use of. Pinterest, Instagram and other social media channels are full of great ideas and information for gardeners, and they can be invaluable for finding something new and interesting for your garden.