What to do
The Christmas rose ('Helleborus niger') is not tender, but the white flowers are easily spoiled 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.
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.
Not all gardens shut their gates to visitors in winter. Always worth a pilgrimage is the winter border at Anglesey Abbey, Quy Road, Lode, Cambs CB25 9EJ, where dogwoods glow in front of ghostly pillars of silver birch. Open Wednesday to Sunday (10.30am-4.30pm), admission £5.25. For more info, call 01223 810080.