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What to do in the garden in January

The weather may be incredibly wet and miserable at the moment, but a gardener’s work is never done. You might not feel inclined to go outside and get your hands dirty, but the more you do now – the better and more productive your flower, fruit and vegetable gardens will be in spring and summer. So what should you be doing now? Well, here are Ladybrook Nursery’s top tips for the January garden.

Flower gardens

  • Prune your Wisteria plants. Cut back plants summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
  • Prune rose bushes now whilst dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
  • Plant bare root roses now in a sunny position for spectacular summer colour.
  • Add colour and interest to your winter garden by growing a winter-flowering evergreen Clematis like ‘Winter Beauty’.
  • If you want to add an unusual bare-root plant to your borders now, try growing Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily).
  • Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses before growth begins to within a few centimetres of the ground.
  • Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like Sedum, carefully avoiding damaging any new growth.
  • Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring.
  • Cut back damaged, diseased and the oldest stems of brightly coloured willows, and thin overcrowded stems.
  • Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop the plants setting seed.

Vegetable and fruit gardens

  • Harvest parsnips and leeks.
  • If you’d like an early crop of peas, place a cloche over the soil to let it warm up for a few weeks prior to sowing.
  • Start chitting (sprouting) early potatoes – stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place in a bright cool frost-free place
  • Start growing potatoes in containers under cover for a very early crop. Charlotte potatoes are a good variety to try.
  • Remove yellowing leaves from your winter brassicas as they do not benefit the plant and may harbour pests and diseases.
  • Begin pruning apple and pear trees if you haven’t already done so: pruning is best done when the trees are dormant.
  • Leave plums, cherries and apricots unpruned until the summer as pruning these fruit trees now will make them susceptible to silver leaf infections.
  • Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants keep the plants productive.
  • Forcing rhubarb plants by placing an upturned bucket or bin over the crown. This will force tender pink stems to grow that will be ready in about 8 weeks’ time.
  • Plant raspberry canes on sunny sites with free-draining soil.

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