Weekend Work: Time to cut the Christmas rose

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The Independent Online

What to do

The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) is not tender, but the white flowers are easily spoilt by heavy rain splashing mud onto the petals. Either cut the flowers and bring them inside or cover the whole plant with a cloche.

Tender herbaceous perennials can be protected from frost with humps of chicken wire, stuffed with dry leaves, straw or bracken. Tender wall shrubs and climbers may need a similar shield.

Continue to prune bush and standard roses. Standards should not be pruned too severely, or else the bush will produce over-vigorous shoots which will spoil the shape of the head. Remove dead or diseased wood first, then cut back the growth made this season as much as is necessary to maintain a well-balanced head. Make the cut next to an outward or upward facing bud so that new growth will start off in the right direction.

What to buy

Christmas gift ideas: fingerless mittens, £30, cathkidston.com; an upright rosemary, planted in a bucket and decorated with birch bark baubles, £27, plants4presents.co.uk; general purpose garden scissors with rubbery handles, £19, niwaki.com; candle lanterns, £9, coxandcox.co.uk; grape hyacinths in a 16cm bowl, £14.99, suttons.co.uk/ christmas; woven wire planter, £50, thebalconygardener.com