Weekend Work: Time for winter pruning

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The Independent Online

What to do

Prune trained fruit trees, remembering that winter pruning is not as important as summer pruning. Winter pruning is the way to build up a standard or half standard apple or pear from a young, single-stemmed whip. With big, established trees, you need do no more than cut out thin, weak shoots, or any wood that is diseased or already dead.

Check bowls of hyacinths rooting in whatever dark, cool place you have put them in, to see that the compost is not drying out.

Once vines have dropped their leaves (late this year) you can start to prune. If you've already established a framework, simply cut all new growth back to within two buds of the main stems. The job needs to be done before the New Year.

Mulch beds and borders, round the bottoms of currant and gooseberry bushes, round roses, climbers and wall shrubs. A good, thick mulch of mushroom compost is the best Christmas present you can give your garden.

What to buy

The seedlist produced each year by Jim and Jenny Archibald is worth getting just for Mr Archibald's acerbic introduction. But nowhere else will you find such a comprehensive collection of rarities. The most recent list offers 36 different species of allium to grow from seed, as well as hosts of corydalis and cyclamen, hellebores and iris. To get the list, send an SAE to Jim and Jenny Archibald, Bryn Collen, Ffostrasol, Llandysul, SA44 5SB, Wales.