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Black currant, red currant, white currant and gooseberries should have all leading shoots of newly planted bushes cut back by at least half and black currants down to ground level.

Do not prune peaches, nectarines, plums or damsons now. These should not be pruned until the summer.

A light pruning of roses is required now, taking out the dead wood and any spindly growth. Try to maintain a general goblet shape by taking out inward growing shoots as it is essential to allow light and air into the centre if strong, healthy growth is to be maintained. New roses can be planted now if conditions are mild, but don’t replant where an old rose has been taken out as it is possible disease may be present.

Ornamental trees and shrubs will be available in the garden centres and can be planted out when conditions are right. Take note of the fully grown size and shape of the trees when planning their location. Make the planting hole wider than necessary but not too deep as the roots will grow out sideways rather than down. Fork over the base of the hole and incorporate lots of humus - compost, rotted farmyard manure. Place the tree in position and check it will be planted at the same depth as it was in the pot or ground it was grown in. Now insert the stake 2 feet into the ground and as tall as the first branches. Replace the tree and settle the soil round the roots to fill any possible air pockets, shaking the tree gently to help the soil settle. Hold the tree upright while you continue to fill in the rest of the soil and firm thoroughly with your heel.

Don’t forget to water well now, and regularly throughout a dry summer.

The start of a new year and a time to look forward to a new season of gardening. This is a good time to be curled up in a comfy armchair in front of the fire with a pile of seed catalogues. Plans made now will reap dividends when summer comes bursting in with a riot of colour coordinated flower beds.


Except for keeping the garden tidy and generally enjoying the winter vista from the other side of the window, little can be done in the garden at this time of the year. So the bulk of the work this month is planting and pruning trees, shrubs and hedges. If the weather is mild, hard landscaping can still be done such as laying paths and patios.

Use  breaks in the weather to plant your new fruit trees. If they arrive when the ground is too frozen or wet, keep the root ball covered and store them in a frost free shed. Take precautions not to allow the root ball to dry out. But do not leave them to soak in water.

Newly planted and established fruit trees can all be pruned in January and February before the sap starts to rise and you can see which branches need tidying up. Cut out all dead and diseased wood, then prune back overgrown branches and any that are growing in the wrong direction and likely to cross over other branches. Aim to keep the crown of the tree clear, pruning into a goblet shape so that air can circulate.

All shoots on newly planted apples and pears that are required to make new growth should  be cut back by about two thirds. On trained trees just trim the leaders to avoid excessive growth.

On blackberries, loganberries and raspberries cut back all canes of newly planted varieties for 1 foot or so from the ground to encourage root formation and the establishment of new, strong growth from the base.