January is a DOING month or perhaps that should be a ‘not doing’ month, giving up all one’s vices is a common occurrence post Seasonal excess of December. Still there is plenty to plan and look forward to and even a few actual jobs to be done in this often freezing inclement month.
Two jobs always on my January, or early Feb at a push, list are pruning apple and pear trees and sculpting the wisteria for a bumper crop of flowers.
The winter prune of fruit (note: stone fruit is not pruned until later in the year) is to encourage more energy to go into the fruit production, it is not as I was recently reminded for shaping and controlling growth, this would be done in the summer prune. A hard prune now causes all kinds of excited watery shoots to appear one growth kicks in. Remembering the adage the harder you cut (prune) the faster it grows. So go steady with those secateurs!
Top tips on apples from the RHS
In the recent ‘not very wintery’ winters the UK has had I find that I am still weeding and edging lawns. In the freezing winter months plants slow to almost zero growth and works continue below ground.
Last year we had a dry winter, in which case keep an eye on newly establishing evergreens that maybe struggling in drought whilst still in growth mode. That said overwatering is a killer, the plant can literally drown from lack of oxygen at the roots when water takes up all the spaces between the soil.
In freezing weather keep and eye on overwintering tubers or corms such as dahlia and gladioli, don’t let them freeze or they will be mush in March . Tender pelargoniums can perish from too many cold spells so keep them snuggled up in a cool but draft free winter home.
Keep deadheading winter flowering violas and pansies, growth and flowering is slower at this time of year but they still benefit from a regular tidy.
Snowdrops (Galanthus) are gearing up to make a wintery appearance, some early varieties are already poking their heads up searching for early sunlight. If you’re keen to extend your patch find a good collection to visit and buy a specimen or two, they usually play well with others and sometimes cross fertilising brings interesting results.
There are 3 national collections to visit : Cambo, Carlisle, Leighton Buzzard, and great collections at RHS Wisely and National Trust properties