Action plan: Nigel Colborn’s essential jobs for your garden this week

  • Nigel Colborn warns that damaging frosts in Britain are becoming more likely this month
  • We recommend that non-hardy plants be moved into a greenhouse/conservatory. 
  • UK-based gardening expert also answers a reader’s question about snowdrops


This month is seeing more damaging frosts in Britain. 

Tender and half-hardy plants are at greatest risk. Move any valuable plants you keep outside somewhere that is frost-free.

You can move non-hardy plants to a conservatory or greenhouse if you own one. Unheated greenhouses will not provide complete protection. The average temperature inside a greenhouse will drop to the freezing point if it is outside.

The protection can be increased by placing horticultural fabric fleece over fragile plants. This could provide an additional two degrees of protection. However, this won’t guarantee safety. You may have to lift large plants that aren’t hardy.

UK-based gardening expert Nigel Colborn shared his advice for protecting plants from frost throughout winter

Nigel Colborn is a UK-based expert in gardening and shared his suggestions for keeping plants safe from frost. 

If given additional protection, they can still survive outdoors. For herbaceous plants, such as dahlias and ginger lilies (canna, canna, and canna), a thick mulch of homemade compost may be enough. 

Protecting climbers and shrubs that are vulnerable is easier. Pinning shade-netting or loose-woven hessian can help. Heavyweight, anti-frost fleece can be used. Expect to pay around £10 for 15m of 1 m-wide material.

If plants are packed in small containers, they can be protected. An unheated wall with sun can retain heat for up to half of the night. You can keep plants alive by covering them with fleece and leaving them close to the wall.


You can easily raise stock next year by having a greenhouse that you grow large chrysanthemums to cut outside. Take all the stems and cut them to the ground. Then, dig up your plants. Place them in large containers with ordinary garden soil.

You can water your plants more often in February. You can remove the shoots. Put the cuts in a mixture sand-potting compost. Strong, well-rooted cuttings will be available by May.


November is the ideal month to plant. Check heights and flowering time when blending different tulip varieties. Fosteriana hybrid tulips, which are early varieties of tulips, bloom in March. The peak season for late cottage varieties is May. Check the quality of your packs when buying. Bulbs need to be firm. Bulbs should be planted deep, with the tops about 10 cm below the soil surface. 


Nigel chose Cornus Alba 'Sibirica' as this week's plant

Nigel selected Cornus Alba “Sibirica” as his plant of the week 

Siberian dogwood is another name for this shrub. As the leaves turn dark maroon, they begin to mature. The young bark becomes a more intense, vibrant shade of red as winter approaches. The leaves will turn buttery yellow and then become old gold, before they fall. It is best to grow the shrub as a cutback, or ‘pollarded” bush for maximum results. Cut back all previous year’s shoots hard in March to leave short stumps. You will see a rise in the number of wands if you do this each spring. It thrives in moist, well-drained soil. Although it can grow in the shade, healthy growth requires full sunlight.


A few weeks ago, snowdrops were in bloom in a village green. However, they didn’t appear to have leaves. Which variety of bulbs would you recommend? What kind of bulbs can you buy?

Mr. J. Pratt.

These were Queen Olga’s snowdrops, Galanthus regineolgae. They appear naked in October. Late winter brings forth the leaves, which must be let to die naturally by early summer. In free-draining soil, this is called snowdrop.

Although the out-of season flowers can be a joy, they are often ruined by snails and slugs. Use sharp grit to deter them.

These nurseries are provided by specialists such as