When we are blessed with dry, clear, crisp mornings we must take advantage of being outdoors.......  

You could shred the Christmas tree which  saves a trip to the tip and creates useful mulch, which you can dig into any vacant pots; or you could move the tree outside and redecorate it for the birds.  Anchor the tree in a bucket full of damp sand, put on strings of nuts, seeds, apples, oranges and leftover bread. 

As we say goodbye to the old and welcome in the New Year, it is a good time to have a really good tidy of the garden, especially after all of the winds we have had recently. Put away any garden tools, accessories like statues and large pots if you haven't done so already.  If you have any clay, cast stone or ceramic pots that you keep outside during the winter, we suggest bringing them in or emptying  them of soil; when soil freezes itl expands, and, most likely will cause the pot to crack.

When tidying, be mindful - hedgehogs love leaf piles and hedges, so it's good to leave a little untouched spot just for them. Birds also need a little help during the early months of the year as food is scarce, so pop in the garden fat balls, nuts, seed and fresh clean water.

As December has been so wet and windy it is hoped that all of the fleeces, ties and stakes remain in place to protect the gardens, however frost is probably only around the corner so it's best to ensure all fleeces are secure.  If there is a spot in your garden that naturally catches the light, consider moving plants towards it so they can soak up precious warming rays.  If we do get any sunny days, it is worth opening the greenhouse door so it can air.

Most shrubs and trees can be pruned from now until March.  Spring blooming shrubs like azaleas and spiraea should be pruned after they flower in the spring.  If you prune these plants now, you will cut off the flower buds.  Roses should be prined in mid-February.  If you like to grow your own fruit and vegetables, then now is the time to plan for the coming season's crop rotation, prune any fruit trees you might have and start forcing through early rhubarb.