January - January is a time for indoor jobs like ordering seeds and plants, writing labels, washing pots, cleaning the greenhouse and planning improvements for the year ahead.


  • Clear borders and rake up leaves before bulbs start poking through
  • Dig over empty borders to get rid of gaps and pull out weed roots
  • Spread a layer of compost over borders, around shrubs and along the base of hedges
  • Plant new roses and shrubs
  • Thin out the top growth on standard roses to prevent damage and wind-rock
  • Take hardwood cuttings from cornus and other shrubs
  • Move small trees and shrubs that have overgrown their position to new roomier locations
  • Pick off faded flowers from winter-flowering pansies to prevent them setting seed

Tip: Tidy up climbers

Cut back ivy and other climbers encroaching on gutters and windows. While they’re unlikely to do any damage to structurally sound walls, it’s obviously bad news if they block gutters and drains. Trim back hard and ensure gutters drain freely.

In the greenhouse

  • Open windows on mild, sunny days to ventilate and prevent fungal disease
  • Water fuchsias in pots sparingly to prevent compost drying out completely
  • Prune greenhouse based vines
  • Tidy the greenhouse and pick faded leaves from pelargoniums and other plants
  • Bring strawberries in containers under cover to encourage early fruiting
  • Buy packets of seeds and make a sowing plan for greenhouse crops and bedding plants
  • Check heaters are working efficiently and top up paraffin heaters if a cold night is forecast
  • Inspect stored tubers such as Dahlia and Begonia for rot or drying out

Tip: Wash up pots

Hygiene is important when growing plants from seed. Tiny, tender seedlings are vulnerable from damping-off disease, which can wipe out entire pots of seedlings within days. Raising them in a clean environment gives them the best start. New pots and seed trays are fine, but any used before should be scrubbed clean in hot water using a sterilising agent such as Jeyes Fluid.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Prune overlapping branches on apple and pear trees
  • Dig the well-rotted contents of compost bins into the soil
  • Wash cloches and frames before using them to warm the soil for early sowings
  • Prune out about a third of the shoots on blueberries
  • Sharpen blades on all your tools
  • Plan your vegetable patch for the year
  • Prepare areas for planning asparagus

Tip: Thinout rhubarb

Dig up the plant, cut away healthy outer portions for replanting and dispose of the woody centre. Dig lots of compost into the soil and replant, keeping the crown level with the soil surface

Tip: Prepare Strawberry Beds

Rake up old leaves and runners out of strawberry beds and tidy up growth. Clear weeds, and then spread compost around the strawberry plants. In spring feed them with sulphate of potash fertiliser.

Around the garden 

  • Place cloches over tender plants to protect them from cold snaps
  • Clean your mower ready for the summer. Send it away for a service if needs be
  • Finish raking up and collecting leaves for composting
  • Visit you local garden centre and look through gardening books for new things to grow this year
  • Repair wobbly or damaged fences and treat wooden structures with preservative
  • Put a floating heater or similar device in fish ponds to stop ice covering the surface
  • Repair and shape lawn edges
  • Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds

Tip: Recycle

Millions of Christmas trees are dumped each year, with many left littering roadsides and pavements. The best way to dispose of your tree is to recycle it. Take is down to your local municipal waste site where they should be able to shred and compost it for you. If you have a shredder, all the better, why not do it yourself? Then you can add the shreddings to your compost heap.

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Woodlands Nurseries
Crooklands, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7NJ
Telephone: 015395 67273
Email: sales@woodlandsgardencentre.com

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