How to rescue trees and shrubs from frost damage

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REGULAR readers of this column will remember we had a lot of queries earlier in the year about frost damage to really well established trees, shrubs and other plants.

Now, at the end of summer, it appears that most of the fig trees, some of the bays and a few of the more hardy eucalyptus – the ones seeming to have caused most concern – have survived, even if they don’t look as happy as they might.

The next question is: “What do we do with them now to bring them back to their former glory?”

Some figs, after spending the spring in a complete sulk, have recovered enough to put on a lot of new growth. The temptation is to trim this back, but if we have another very cold snap this winter, it could be the end for the poor things, and pruning now will certainly put an end to any fruit next season. As with all woody plants, all dead wood should be removed, but any formative pruning is best left till next spring.

Bay trees have struggled far more – my pyramids have made some new growth, mainly from the inside, but the shape has been spoilt, for the time being, at least. By now, we know which wood is alive and which isn’t, so the dead stuff can come out, although I think I will leave mine till next April so the defunct twigs can protect any new shoots underneath them from frost.

As far as the eucalyptus are concerned, any trees that have not sprouted, either from low down or further up the trunk, are likely to be dead. The only thing, if you have a log burner, is that eucalyptus wood makes excellent fuel. It possibly turns well if you are a woodworker, but I don’t really know what I’m talking about here! Somebody will tell me, no doubt.

The lesson we have learned over the last few winters is, with trees and shrubs that are slightly less hardy, any pruning other than the removal of dead and diseased material is best left until the weather warms up in spring – a good excuse not to do something in the garden, for a change.

Anyone with gardening problems will find me at Glen Park, Surfleet, on Sunday at the Celebrate Surfleet Village Fete, where I will be helping to run the Fen Bank Dog Show.

The fete itself is a real good day out for all the family (I should know, I’m on the committee!) and all dogs (not just greyhounds and pedigrees) are welcome to come and try to win a rosette and a prize.

And for the last few weeks I’ve been putting together some really nice plants for the plant stall, so if you’ re looking for a bargain, go and see my friend Julia, who is running it.

All details of the fete are on Facebook and for Dog Show classes visit

Fingers crossed for the weather – see you all there!