January is an odd mix of rest and activity. The new year has started and hibernation is clearly over, but things aren’t in full swing yet. The weather might turn really cold yet. Snow and frost might yet come. There’s still a holding-back before the year gains momentum. And yet, work is getting done, mountains are being moved.
It’s fruit pruning time now, and a good time for other winter pruning. We prune many trees and shrubs in winter, because plants are resting. After pruning, when the new growth begins, they can fill out their new shape without wasting energy on branches that have been removed. Pruning is also easier when branches are bare. Once the leaves have appeared, it’s more difficult to see the structure of a tree or shrub. Also, it’s better to prune before birds start nesting. Who wants to build a nest and then be disturbed by the gardener?
Pruning keeps trees and shrubs in good health, balances out irregular growth and enhances flowers and fruit.
Now is also a good time for cleaning up the garden – digging, removing weeds and briars, tidying overgrown areas – and plan and plant anew. The photos show a somewhat untidy bank, overgrown by briars and last year’s flowers. After the clean-up, most plant debris have been removed. Red and yellow stemmed Cornus (dogwood) have been planted, together with cuttings of red, orange, green and brown stemmed willow. Last year’s flowers will have self-seeded. Over time, the bank will offer lots of food for bees and other wildlife from early in the year onwards. In summer, there will be a good cover of leaves and flowers. In winter, the different coloured stems will make a great display.
Ongoing projects are coming on nicely. An area planted with Erica (heather) in summer 2018 is now in full bloom and starting to spread and cover the ground. A wildflower bed sown in September 2019 has turned green with brave seedlings that will not be deterred, whatever the weather.
The young Braeburn apple tree has been pruned back and is now, once again, smaller than the gardener – but not for long! 160cm tall today. Let’s see how long that lasts.