Cold January days bring the perfect opportunity for planning your garden for the following year. The snowdrops are beginning to show their heads, some scented shrubs start to bud and Hellebores show their faces in the shadiest patches of the garden. January is definitely the time to dream about the gardening season ahead and start getting your hands dirty again!

1. Continue to clear away any decaying perennials from your borders to deter slugs and snails, and allow those Spring bulbs to develop fully. Empty compost heaps that are ready to use as mulch, and spread it on the garden. This will enrich your soil and provide you with healthy plants later in the year.

2. Ensure that you continue to water pots and tubs and troughs – particularly window boxes and containers that sit on balconies or the lee of the house. Containers planted with bulbs should be given a good watering at least twice a week. Try not to water during periods of heavy frost, though, and ensure tender plants are protected with fleece or hessian.

3. Bare root trees and shrubs can be planted now, if the weather is good. Try planting scented shrubs such as Sarcococca Confusa and Daphne Odora by paths and doorways to enjoy their sweet scent.

4. Garden birds are active throughout the Winter months, so ensure that

bird tables and feeders are kept clean and topped up with food regularly.

5. Remove old Hellebore leaves to make the new blooms more visible as they emerge. You can cut a few stems for the house. Simply cut and sear the tips of the stems in boiling water for 30 seconds, before placing them straight into cold water. They will last in a vase for at least a week, and help to chase away January blues.

6. Plant Amaryllis bulbs in pots now, for beautiful indoor flowers. Other potted plants such as Hyacinths, Iris and Narcissus (available pre-grown from most garden centres) can also be brought into the house for striking, scented indoor displays.

7. Check Dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rot. Make sure that they remain dry and are not exposed to frost.

8. Rose bushes can be pruned whilst they are dormant, cutting them back just above a bud. Dead branches should be cut out and any crossing branches removed. Ensure that wires, trellises and fences are strong and secure. Any loose branches should be secured with strong twine.

9. Wisteria can be pruned now. Cut back shoots by two or three buds on a lateral stem for a show of healthy blooms in Spring. It’s best to prune Wisteria twice a year, to keep it strong and full of flowers in May.

10. Sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy planning for the year to come!