Winter has now begun with frosty mornings and the last of the leaves falling from the trees.

The weather has a big influence on the type of work that may be done in and around the garden. This year we are entering Winter with wet and cold ground which limits what can be achieved.

The lawns will need some careful attention so raise the mowing height and only mow once the grass is dry and the ground is not too wet so that the soil does not come to the surface making it muddy. Also keep off the grass while there is still frost on it to avoid any damage.

Clean up the last of the fallen leaves and weed the garden, when the ground is suitable I like to cut back the old leaves of the Hellebores so that the flower buds will come up higher than the new leaves. I also like to clean up all the dead leaves from the Hostas and remove any slugs that may try to over winter in the crown of the plants.

Once the frosts have cut back the top crown of the Dahlias and Begonias, they can be lifted and stored for the winter in a cool dry place. I will brush off the soil from the tubers once the soil is dry and check them over for any pests or disease that may damage them while being stored.

This month is the start of the pruning season which should only be started when the weather is fine and sunny - never while it is raining. Winter treatments for fruit trees can start now, especially conquer oil and copper sprays which help to protect the plants from pests and diseases this coming season.

The green house is where much of my work is carried out, I'll be cutting back the chrysanthemums that are in pots and lifting and cutting back the plants that were grown in the ground to put in trays ready for cuttings later on. Once I have cleaned out the green house I will bring in any frost tender plants and the pots of Spring bulbs that I grow for early flowers.

This month is the right time to plant garlic and shallots. Green crops can also be sown. Other than that there is not much to be done so keep warm and dry.

Michael Coulter

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