What to do
Despite its name, sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) attacks rhododendrons, camellias, viburnums, pieris, kalmias, yew trees, beech and horse chestnut as well as oak. On rhododendrons (including the naturalised bully Rhododendron ponticum) the disease causes leaves to brown off and die.
Palms have become standard kit in small-town gardens, where they usually thrive in the extra warmth created by escaped central heating. They've had a tougher time over the last two winters. One of the most popular is the chusan palm Trachycarpus fortunei. The dwarf palm Chamaerops humilis is also reasonably hardy in sheltered gardens, but both need extra care while they are still young. On chilly nights, fleece, a sheet of sacking (or an old blanket) wrapped round the fronds may save it from freezing to death.
What to see
The Garden History Society's winter lecture series opens this week when Wesley Kerr, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund's London committee, talks about our public parks at the RHS Hall, Vincent Square, London SW1, 6.30pm on Wednesday. Tickets: £18 from the GHS, 70 Cowcross St, London EC1M 6EJ, 020-7490 2974 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.