Gardening with Daphne Ledward: Don’t let snow ruin the garden

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As I write this, snow is forecast, which is rather annoying as I was just getting back into my post-Christmas swing of leaf clearing (not before time), hedge trimming, and top dressing the borders with bonemeal (two months later than I should have done, as every day I set aside for this in October and November poured with rain).

Since there will be very little productive gardening possible under a white blanket, I thought a few timely reminders of what to do – and not do – if snow arrives, wouldn’t come amiss.

l If you’re using salt on paths and other hard surfaces, make sure you keep it off plants and the lawn. It can be toxic to quite a few species; at the very least, it can damage foliage and any new shoots that have already appeared.

l Shake snow off conifer branches during heavy snowfall, as the weight of settling snow can soon pull conifers and other evergreens out of shape.

l Don’t pile snow up on the lawn; it can cause discolouration and fungal diseases like fusarium patch, especially if it takes a long time to thaw.

l Try not to walk on the grass when covered with snow, for the same reason. I realise this can be difficult where there are children, but encouraging them to build their snowmen, and giant snowballs that may still be around in March, on the patio or other paving might save many turf problems come the spring.

l Carefully remove accumulations of snow from hanging baskets; it can increase their weight tremendously and may loosen or bend their brackets.

l Remove snow from greenhouse roofs and cold frames. It can reduce light levels significantly at a time of year when good light is at a premium.

l Don’t worry about snow flattening early daffodils, which are already in bud in many gardens. Once it thaws they will soon spring upright again.

Above all, take the opportunity to enjoy the snow; settle down with a good gardening book or magazine and watch it fall, or, if you’re feeling really energetic, get out your seed and plant catalogues and plan for warmer days.