In the Garden
Make time to plan your vision for the garden for next year. Take a walk round and assess which aspects worked well over the year, what did not work so well, and where there were gaps.
Check stakes and ties on trees and shrubs to make sure they are firmly in the ground and fastened but leave them some room to move as pushing against the wind helps strengthen roots.
Deciduous trees are most easily pruned when there is no foliage on them, so that you can easily spot any damaged or diseased growth. Re-shape trees and remove crossing branches to maximise healthy growth for next year.
Start to winter-prune wisteria, cutting back summer side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
Plants in pots are vulnerable to water logging over winter, which can cause roots to rot. Raise them up onto pot feet or stand on bricks, to allow excess moisture to drain away.
Make sure winter containers are in a position of full sun in the garden.
Birds need food and fresh water at this time of year when short days leave them less time to forage.
In the Borders
Deadhead winter pansies and violas to keep them tidy and stop them setting seed.
Comb your hand through soft-leaved ornamental grasses to remove dead foliage.
Prune down tall growing rose bushes by about half to reduce the risk of wind damage to the roots and stems.
After a heavy frost or high winds, check that roots on shrubs and trees have not lifted from the ground. Firm them back in by treading down the soil.
Bulbs that have been forced for indoor Christmas use, like paper white Narcissi and hyacinths, can be put outside somewhere light once they have finished flowering. Cut off the flower heads to prevent the plant going to seed, feed it with a high potash feed and let the foliage fade. In spring, plant the bulbs in the garden to flower outside again in years to come.
In the Veg Beds
Lift the last leeks and parsnips before the soil becomes frozen.
Cover winter cabbages and kale with fine mesh to protect them from pigeons.
In the Fruit Cage
Prune apple and pear trees whilst they are still dormant over the winter but leave other fruits such as plums and cherries unpruned until the summer to avoid silver leaf infections.
Take cuttings from gooseberry bushes this month to root over winter.
Lift and divide established clumps of rhubarb to renew the plant’s vigour.
In the Herb Bed
Rewrite fading plant labels in the herb garden before names disappear due to winter rain and snow.
In the Greenhouse
Plants in the greenhouse should be tidied, removing faded flowers and shrivelled leaves to discourage moulds and fungal diseases. Keeping glasshouse doors or vents open for a few hours on mild days will also help.
Pinch out the tips of autumn-sown sweet pea seedlings early in the new year to encourage strong side shoots.