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The funny thing about January is that most people cannot imagine what any one would need to be doing in the garden, demonstrated recently by the British Gas engineer who suggested over his cup of tea that there ‘can’t be a lot to do this time of year’.

It is true that for a large part of this month, the weather has been beastly and, for most of us, it is all we can do to drag ourselves out to empty the bins or put the re cycling out. With the gas man’s statement in my ears I found myself saying actually there is quite a bit to get on with if the weather allows: 

Winter tree pruning: see above.  I would like to confirm that no person was harmed in this mad case of Apple tree pruning.

Renovate: now is the right time to work on overgrown or misshapen deciduous hedges.

Cut back: herbaceous perennials and deciduous grasses before new growth starts to appear. With all the rain this Winter, mine were on the brink of turning to mush, so they have had the chop.

Pruning: climbing or rambling roses can be pruned now. If you haven’t done this already, get cracking.

and if the weather doesn’t allow? well there are still lots of things to do:

Clean: get in the shed and clean those toolsThis one is always a Mr Dorris favourite, I can hear the groans now.

Plan: It is a good time to make lists of things you are going to do once the weather allows.  From the comfort of your armchair you could list the seeds you plan to grow, the new flowers you want to try, or perhaps you could be drawing up larger designs or projects for the garden.

List: the gardens you would like to visit this year, the RHS shows you want to see.

Make: Pot up those Winter flowering bulbs you meant to plant before Christmas.


Make: your own Marmalade.  I am still working my way through last years effort.


There is always something to be getting on with in the garden, but some days I will get involved with another task to avoid the weather.   Rarely do I  get away with not going out at all, as the dog will take a flying leap at me, when I am least expecting it, and so it is that dog owners are made to go out, whatever the weather.  Yet I love to be outside and feel completely stir crazy if not.  A long walk with the dog will often be enough, so much so that I cannot face another change of clothes let alone getting back out there.

So it was great to get up to the big garden this week.  I spent a few hours renovating the Buddleia.  These are very old and are in an area which gets few human visits. They are on a bank up the drive, where they attract hordes of butterflies and disguise the vast warren of rabbit holes.  Anyway the last two Winters were too snowy so they had got away from me a little.  I took the saw to the chunky branches and the loppers to the rest.  I didn’t want to take them to floor level as they do provide a little light screening which needed to remain. Out came any dead wood and the height was brought down to a more manageable height.

The main issue in most gardens is where to put the rubbish and how to transport it there.  Compost bins are essential in order to avoid the tip run and our Council provide green wheelie bins which are collected every other week.  The compost bins work well, but at the big garden we have such mammoth amounts of waste that we have a designated area to put it all.  Thankfully I have more than just a wheelbarrow to get it there, in fact I now have a shiny new John Deere to use. I must have been an especially good Dorris last year as usually I have to wait to use one of the mowers with the box off.  The nuisance factor that is the Dorris obviously worked and this year I can look forward to going about my business without troubling ‘the boys’ for use of ‘their’ machines.

For fans of John Deere or Howe Gelb take a listen to this.

I am easily amused.