The last day of January!!  Thank goodness!

January is possibly my least favourite month of the year,  except for 1993 when my first born arrived - that was a good year!  It's the barrage of self-improvement, do this, don't do that, messages combined with dark mornings, dark nights and generally gloomy weather that does nothing to revive my spirits for the start of the year ahead.

Tomorrow will be different.

Already the days are getting longer.  It's a lovely feeling to leave work and it's not pitch black.  You know that in a few short weeks the weather will improve, buds will start to show and moods and spirits will lift in anticipation of Spring.  As Love Unlimited sang, "It may be Winter outside, but in my heart it's Spring"!

The promise of warmer days, more time outdoors gets me to planning.

Not planning dry February, or 100 press ups a day, I start planning my garden.

What will I grow this year.  Is it worth fighting the grubs for my organic veg?  Is the work planting from seed better than just buying trays of bedding plants?  What colour am I painting fences and furniture?

It's now that I start my check list, feel free to use mine if it's of interest!

Plant Regeneration

Trim back hedges and shrubs to avoid those ugly woody stems that develop over the years.  Prune back old stems to encourage new shoots in the spring.

Roses are an example of a plant that benefits from regeneration (but not all roses).

Winter Tip: When all the leaves have fallen make time to clear unwanted or poorly looking plants and feed the soil.  It might be a good time to plan your display for spring on this new blank canvas?

Did you know? All wild nesting birds are protected by law. These means that you cannot deliberately disturb a wild birds nest between 1st March and 31st July. For many woody plants, winter is the best time for pruning and it avoids disturbing wild bird nests.

Know your plant before you prune!  Different trees, shrubs and climbers all have different needs and at different times of the year:
Winter pruning often involves cutting back woody growth and therefore takes longer and results in large amounts of cuttings. By getting these jobs out of the way in the off season you’ll be free to concentrate on the planting and maintenance in the spring and summer.  Your garden will look better and you’ve spread the workload and cost over the year.

General Tidy Up. British winters can be cold, windy and frosty but we can also get quite warm spells too and weeds will continue to grow during a mild winter. By clearing the debris of leaves and broken and damaged plants you will improve the look and well-being of the garden. Good garden hygiene also helps to reduce diseases. Sweep away leaves and moss from paths and hard ground.  Leaves will fertilise weeds allowing them to establish themselves in cracks and paths.  Regular weeding means less weeding.

Winter Planting. Some plants (like roses) lie dormant in the winter and so can be moved.  As long as the soil is not frozen or waterlogged, these dormant plants can be planted before they 'wake-up' in the spring.

Bulbs such as crocus, tulips and iris are often planted in late autumn. Herbaceous plants (Daffodils, cyclamen and periwinkle) are often divided and replanted in early spring depending on your local climate.

Only heavy frost and snow will stop a keen gardener!

Soil Preparation

Winter is a good time to re-design ready for spring.  If you want to add a new border, feel free to leave the soil in clumps as the cold, wet and frost will help to break it down naturally, it will also kill off any pests by exposing them to natural predators such as birds and the hedgehogs you’ll attract using the seeds from the Spring Seeds, Winter or Nature Seeds gift boxes.  The same rules apply to any vegetable plots.

Is your lawn a state? Often if you have pets and/or kids your lawn area will take a hammering over summer and so the winter is a good time to remove sections of turf, add/remove soil and relay. Lawns can be reseeded and grass grows if the temperature is above 5 degrees.

Landscaping Repairs

Now that you can see your garden in its bare bones, what repairs are needed?

- Repair any leaks on sheds and greenhouses

- Invest in a water butt

- Create or purchase a compost bin

- Repair and paint fences and furniture

- Repair any loose paving slabs

- Pressure wash paths and patios

- Build or buy a bug hotel

When you have a list of hard graft jobs like this to consider you certainly don't need a January exercise plan!

Check out our Garden Collection for gifts that will inspire your green fingered loved ones!  You'll also find some garden inspired gifts for Mother's Day too.

 Spring is about to spring - and I for one can't wait!