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Winter Work for Spring Gains

This article was first published on 18 Jul 2013.

Pruning roses with clean, sharp secateurs.

Pruning roses with clean, sharp secateurs.

As gardeners we are used to the weather throwing everything at us.  But this is the time of year to battle the elements and protect our treasures.


Extreme winds are not just a winter occurrence but work at this time can help reduce damage. In winter the branch structure of deciduous plants is visible, allowing for easy removal of potential weak limbs.

Extended summer growth can be leggy and weak.  Pruning plants to keep them bushy helps to strengthen branches and reduces the chance of branches snapping or splitting. 


All gardens develop wet spots and we can use this to our advantage by planting plants that like these conditions.

Torrential rain gives us a chance to see where we need to add extra drainage. In wet areas mix plenty of grit into the soil to increase drainage.  Alternatively, raise beds up to take roots out of the worst of the water.

Snow and frost

The weight of snow is normally the gardener’s enemy. Broken branches and crushed plants need to be pruned back to a healthy site to reduce future damage and diseases.

Frost is normally a bigger problem and can be extreme after periods of snow. Delicate plants can either be grown in pots where they can be moved to a sheltered position or horticultural frost protection cloth laid over plants, giving a couple of degrees of protection.

All the extra effort at this time of year will be worth it when spring arrives and gardens are full of flowers again.

Dylan Norfield is Collection Curator of the Geographic and Arboretum Collections at Dunedin Botanic Garden.