Brighten up the dark months ahead by planting up containers with flowers and shrubs that relish cold conditions. The brick-red buds of Skimmia rubella are carried through the winter before opening into fragrant flowers in early spring; pansies will flower repeatedly through milder spells and Christmas box, Sarcococca, will fill the air with perfume. Around these plant bulbs of miniature daffodils and crocuses that will add a splash of bright colour through January and February.



When clearing borders, retain hollow stems, cut these into short lengths, tie them together and hang from fences or slot into hedges to provide shelter for hibernating insects.

Scottish Gardener:


  • Give lawns their final cut of the year then clean the lawnmower and store for winter.
  • Before lighting bonfires, check that hedgehogs haven’t taken up residence.
  • Rake up leaves and pile into wire bins or black bags, punctured by a fork, where they will eventually break down into leaf mould.
  • Plant wallflowers this month, removing the blooms from any that have already come into flower.
  • Scrub bird feeders and tables and replenish with nuts, seeds and water.
  • The bulbs of Crown imperial fritillaries will rot in wet soil, so plant these on their sides to prevent water from collecting around the crown.
  • Windfall apples left on the ground will provide food for thrushes and blackbirds.
  • Check supports on trees and loosen ties that have become too tight.
  • Prepare the soil for planting trees, shrubs and bare-root hedging. Move conifers once they become dormant, keeping them well-watered until they have re-established
  • Plant berrying shrubs such as hawthorn and cotoneaster to provide winter rations for birds, including waxwings.
  • Bring pelargoniums indoors and place on a bright windowsill. Water sparingly.
  • Lift gladioli bulbs and store in a frost-free environment until spring.
  • Don't rush to remove dahlias following a light frost. Buds will still be viable so let these flower and only remove plants once the foliage blackens.
  • Containers that will be left outside all winter should be raised onto pot feet to prevent them from becoming waterlogged.
  • Prune back long stems on roses to prevent the bushes from being rocked by winds. Firm down any roots that have been loosened.
  • Clean greenhouses, scrubbing all surfaces and glass with Jeyes Fluid or similar cleaner.
  • Don't discard chilli peppers. Instead cut them back hard and bring them indoors to overwinter. They will fruit again next summer.