It is always surprising to hear those small-talk comments about how things must slow down for us , as gardeners, over the winter months. I always enjoy contradicting them. This is when we are very busy, catching up on all the maintenance jobs that we don’t get time to complete while plants are growing during the warmer period. The deciduous trees and shrubs are almost begging us to shape them at this time, showing off their structure of branches. We can use this time to remove dead wood, train healthy stems and encourage new growth. We are busy with fruit tree pruning in particular at the moment. And roses. The work we do now pays us back during flowering and fruiting time later on.

Euonymus japonicus, the evergreen spindle, is perfect for topiary

This is also a great time to move plants that are in the wrong place. In one of our gardens last week, I moved eight rose bushes, whose bed was being thrown over for a new swimming pool. In another, we are finding a better home for a rhododendron that is to be replaced with a more drought tolerant species. Transplanting now means that plants have a chance to get some roots down before the high water demands of spring and summer. Even still, the plants will need extra watering until the roots are established, throughout the first year.

The orchard at one of our country gardens, pruned and mulched

Jobs for deep winter:

  • Prune roses and fruit trees
  • Cut back and divide perennials such as clumping grasses like the Miscanthus pictured
  • Trim hedges and shrubs if you haven’t already done so.