A gardener’s guide to winter, from late autumn to the end of February

Tiffany Daneff shares her winter gardening tips.

Knowing what you have to do — and what you can safely leave for later — is part of the art of gardening. Follow this winter garden calendar and you won’t go far wrong.

Late autumn

At the end of the year, leaves are raked and blown into piles, then sucked up by the Terra Vac (a handy machine originally designed for clearing horse droppings from paddocks) and deposited into a huge composting bay. The same is done with all the hedge clippings. Turned four to six times over the course of the year, using a front-loader tractor, the resulting monster heap generates temperatures of up to 60˚C and will be ready for use in 10 months

December

Once the last leaves have been removed, the previous year’s leaf compost (now broken down into a friable mulch) is spread in a 2in-deep layer across all the beds and borders before the really cold weather sets in and freezes the ground. Mulching now also avoids mulching over emerging spring bulbs

Early January

The roses are pruned as soon as possible after Christmas, so as not to damage emerging bulbs. At the same time, hazel rods and willow wands, coppiced from the estate’s woodlands, are used to build supports for large shrub roses, clematis and tall perennials. Rose supports are fashioned from hazel uprights, through which twists of willow are woven. These are sturdy enough to last a couple of years. Herbaceous supports are woven from ‘feathered’ slender hazel branches and are replaced each year

January

Large evergreens are pruned and a cherry picker is used to tackle the massive laurel hedges. The holly, elaeagnus and decorative pears are also pruned now. The individual evergreens are pruned with small hedge cutters

Early February

Well-rotted horse manure is spread around the roses

Late February

The Group Three clematis in the rose beds are pruned and tied to individual hazel supports. These supports will carry the volume and weight of the clematis and so protect the surrounding roses.