What to do in the garden this week
Pinch out rhododendron and azalea buds damaged by frost to prevent the spread of disease.
Wash and disinfect seed trays and pots, ready for early spring sowing and planting.
Protect winter-flowering bulbous irises in the garden from severe cold or damp.
Complete the pruning of greenhouse vines while they are still dormant.
On dry days, give your shed or fencing a lift with timber preservative, making sure you don’t splash plants in the process.
Have a quick clear-up, getting rid of debris which might shelter pests such as snails, and sort out your compost heap or bin for the coming season.
Keep a bag of gritty sand on standby to sprinkle over icy paths.
Heel in newly-planted bare-root shrubs which may have been lifted by frost.
In the greenhouse, sow seeds of houseplants and greenhouse exotics such as bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) in a heated propagator, as well as tender perennials such as geraniums.
If you have dug over an area to make a new bed, cover the ground with large sheets of polythene anchored around the edges with bricks, to stop weeds emerging and keep the worst of the winter weather out.