What to do
Terracotta pots that have been standing in saucers of water through autumn should definitely now be liberated from them. Plants are less likely to die and pots less likely to crack open in icy weather if the compost is well drained. Less water means less expansion if it freezes.
Now is the time to plant roses, fruit trees and new hedges.
In the bloated interval that stretches between Christmas and the New Year, order seeds. Include at least three things you have never grown before. I recommend Antirrhinum 'Black Prince' (Thompson & Morgan 1.99) and Antirrhinum 'Chartreuse' (Unwins 2.49) which is the most beautiful snapdragon I have ever grown. Aquilegia caerulea (T&M 2.29) is also lovely as is Viola 'Shy Pixie' (Dobies 2.05).
Prune vines when the leaves have all dropped. Cut back all side growths to within one or two dormant buds from the main stem. Peel loose shreds of bark from vines growing under cover. Pruning must be completed before the New Year, when the sap will start to rise again. Vines cut then will bleed copiously, which is not good for them.
What to see
There's a Winter Garden Fair tomorrow (11am-4pm) at the Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 (below). Although it's open now more than it used to be, there's still a wonderfully secretive feeling in letting yourself in through the small door that opens on to this surprising place. Wonderful trees. And wonderful food now in the new caf. At the fair there'll be plants stalls, craft stalls and other sources of potential Christmas presents. Admission 7. Call 020-7352 5646.Reuse content