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10 Gardening Tasks for Winter: Tips from Wild Edge Garden Design

Snowdrops on a woodland floor

Motivation often wanes in January. To re-motivate I pull on my coat, gloves and scarf and take myself out for a brisk winter walk. A nearby woodland is ideal, but I’ll take anything that raises my heart rate and gets me out into the fresh winter air. Sometimes my walks take me along the Honeybourne Line. A disused train-line turned pedestrian and cycle path in Cheltenham.

Sometimes I’ll travel a bit further to Lineover Wood,  Leckhampton or Cleeve Hill where I can look out over Cheltenham and Gloucester to the distant Malvern Hills. I’m lucky to have accessible green space only a short journey from me.

My other fresh air option is my garden.

The last few months of winter are a lovely time for pottering about in the garden. The pace is slow, there isn’t any urgency and there are a number of gardening tasks to get done. It's a time to tread carefully as I’m aware that insects and other creatures hide away in piles of leaves and sticks. I don’t want to disturb them.

Pottering in a garden gives me time to step away from screens and social media, to feel the earth, to listen to the birds and to let my thoughts wander.

My top gardening tasks for January and February are:

  1. Sort through seed packets and make plans for the growing season. Make a list of what you want to grow and order or source seeds now so they’re ready to be planted when you need them.

  2. If you have a shed and/or greenhouse, give it a spring clean. Tidy and stack pots ready for the year ahead.

  3. Prune apple and pear trees. Keep any long lengths to use as kindling if you have a fireplace, log burner or outdoor fire-pit. Alternatively think about mulching to re-use on your garden beds or create piles of sticks toward the back of any borders or behind sheds to provide additional habitat for insects and small garden mammals (such as hedgehogs).

  4. Prune Autumn fruiting raspberries, soft fruit bushes such as blackcurrants and gooseberries, wisteria, clematis (group 3), roses and some deciduous shrubs. For more information have a look at this helpful guide.

  5. Prune hedges (always check for birds first), taking care not to cut away any berries that may be a food source for wildlife (if a hedge is still full of berries perhaps wait until the birds have had their fill and then prune).

  6. Look after your garden wildlife. Keep bird feeders topped up with seed. Think about building a nest box to site somewhere in your garden for the nesting season ahead. Stack piles of garden prunings in hidden corners of your garden to provide habitat for other animals.

  7. Don't be too tidy. Leave seed heads and dead foliage standing through the winter and let leaves remain in the garden borders where they fall.

  8. Take stock of your current garden layout and, if the weather is mild, move any shrubs or herbaceous plants that you think may benefit from a different location (a garden constantly evolves and grows).

  9. Keep bird baths topped up and clean. Keep an eye on ponds and bird baths to ensure they don't freeze over. Birds and other garden wildlife will appreciate a fresh water supply.

  10. Keep an eye on plants in pots to ensure the compost remains moist. Protect plants from frosts where necessary.

If need any additional advice get in touch with Emma at Wild Edge Garden Design.

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