Wormald advises on Christmas gardening

Award-winning garden expert Neil Wormald has been explaining to readers of the Sunday Times (December 14th) how a gardeners time is best spent over the Christmas period.

Despite the cold weather, Mr Wormald advises that gardeners should leave the warmth of their greenhouses to prune climbing plants such as wisterias.

Doing so will encourage them to flower in the summer months and will also ensure they do not become overgrown or untidy.

Green-fingered gardening enthusiasts should take care when pruning though, and not go too snip-happy. The advice is to remove any side shoots but to leave around two or three buds.

Birds can also be an issue during the winter as they look to plants and vegetables when the ground has hardened.

While plants in the greenhouse are protected under glass, outdoor varieties such as brassicas can be protected by netting.

Another handy hint is to use bright tinsel and coloured reflective strips of ribbon to scare off pests, according to the Royal Horticultural Society.

One more eco-friendly and health and safety-conscious tip offered by Mr Wormald is to keep any wine or champagne corks collected over the Christmas period and use them as "cane toppers" to help avoid any nasty accidents when working in the garden.