The important thing to remember is never to do any pruning, watering or feeding of plants during these conditions. Let them rest and let the snow protect those perennials who have yet to poke their first shoots above the ground. Temperatures below ground are always warmer than those at surface level and tubers, corms, rhizomes and bulbs can sit tight until warmer weather comes along.
The danger is more prevalent for plants above ground level as they can become laden down by the snow. As pretty as it may seem, resting on the leaves, you will be helping to release the strain by dusting the snow off.
If you can start before the snow takes hold, you can protect conifers by binding them using garden twine and canes. This is best done in early winter and removed in spring when you can reshape the branches, removing any dead or damaged ones, and helping them to adjust and re-settle.
Another task to do before the snow begins is to remove any netting that may capture and take the weight of the snow. It will only get broken and may bring down any other weaker structures that it is attached to. So remove these and tidy them away to the shed for the winter.
Anything in contact with the ground is likely to be hardest hit by frosts, so use pot feet for your containers, wrap in bubble wrap to retain inner heat and don’t let saucers of water freeze – better to remove them altogether.
Did you know you can damage your grass if you walk on a frosty lawn? Stick to the paths and simply admire the look of the frost-laden grass.
If you find you’ve missed the boat and your plants adopt that drooping, frozen look then wait until spring for remedial action. Cutting back then will be likely to remedy the situation. And if it’s really too late, then you’ll simply have to consider replacements.
Once you’ve done the work, do make sure you enjoy the snow. If you don’t have children or grand-children to play with, go for a walk or just enjoy the white garden from the warmth of your house.
The BBC’s gardening website has some tips for protecting plants during cold weather and snow. Go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/weather_coldweather.shtml