What do I do in the garden in the winter, is a question I'm often asked, I find that people are surprised that I garden all year round (and not anxious to come and join me).
Here in the south of England which has an equivalent climate to American zone nine, there will only usually be 10 to 15 days a year, when the garden is frosted or under snow and you are not able to do any gardening at all.
I find the winter months an excellent time of the year to get on top of your weeding, to ensure leaves and debris are cleared away so that pests have nowhere to hide, and the months of January and February are excellent times for pruning a wide range of shrubs and climbers. Plus there are some fantastic shrubs that are flowering and scented in the winter months of the year, like this Hammaemelis, which is in a garden of a client.
I wouldn't suggest gardening if there is frost on the ground, so often in late December, January and February this means you've only got 2 to 3 hours of full daylight when you can get on the garden. Today I made the full use of that three hours,
I weeded one of my front garden borders including getting out lots of dandelions and all their tap roots, plus ground elder, which this border was completely infested with 18 months ago, but which regular attention has got down to a more manageable level.
I cleared away the leaves that had fallen on this border from my Magnolia Grandiflora. This is evergreen, and so sheds leaves all year round, - they don't mulch down as quickly as deciduous leaves, and so if left on borders can smother the plants quickly (as well as making them look untidy).
I cut back/ deadheaded the Achillea the Pearl, Thalictrum, Rudbeckia, Heleniums and Asters, which until a few weeks ago were providing me with good looking seedheads. - Since we've had snow and frost, they are now looking bedraggled, and the birds have been taking some of the seeds.
I also took out the last of the annual Verbascum, and harvested some more seeds from them, plus harvested seeds from the sedum strawberries and cream heads. (send me a message in the comments if you are in the UK & would like some of either)
I pruned my roses (although I might go back and be a bit harder on them in late February)
I did a session of watering in the greenhouse, it is still important to water pots during the winter, but they must be done when they're not going to freeze. at this time of year, I tend to fill up my watering cans from the waterbutt after I finished watering and leave the full cans in the greenhouse where it is slightly warmer so it doesn't freeze. My cut and come again lettuces plus Mizuna, planted mid October are now eating size, and welcomed the drink
I harvested my Christmas potatoes, they were planted by William and a friend in July, in potato bags.
The first bag had given us a small but tasty harvest at the end of November, which we'd used for roasted rosemary potatoes. This second bag had a very small and disappointing harvest, and also had some unwelcome additions to it - vine weevil larvae.
I put them on the step to squash them, and the chickens decided I was giving them a treat and ate them for me. (now I just have to train them to find them!)
I planted up some bulbs, - the lilies that arrived just before Christmas and some leftover mini Narsissus. I had hoped to plant up some more bulbs, but I couldn't reuse the potato compost because of the vineweevils, so i'll have to buy some more for that job, as my homemade compost needs another couple of months.
Oh and I also planted up several seedlings from the front border, - one of which I hope is a cotinus. - I often do this to prevent myself from weeding them out next time, - just to make sure i'm not losing out on any plants.
I didn't get round to
Taking the Sunflowers out, Weeding round the raspberries, putting up my new racking for my "spare" plants, tidying up the strawberries, raking the grass where the chickens have added leaves, deadheading the cyclamen, tidying up my potting area, oh and weeding the other 6 borders in the garden. - Something to do next weekend then...