The possibilities of outdoor work this month will depend largely on weather conditions. Ground operations cannot, of course, be carried out during hard frost, but where digging, etc., is in arrears, this must be done in all open weather. Lawns should be rolled from time to time, when they are not frosty or too wet.
It is an excellent time for digging over shrubberies, burying all dead leaves which remain on the surface. Shrubs make great demands upon the soil they grow in, and a dressing of lime, or, better still, of basic slag, is beneficial in the case of sour or exhausted ground. Lime must never be allowed to come near the roots of rho-dodendrons, however, as it acts as poison to them.
Dead wood should at the same time be cut out of all shrubs and trees, using secateurs for the purpose if quicker work can be done than with the knife. Regulate the growth at the same time by judicious knife-pruning, and do not be afraid to cut away plenty of wood from evergreens.
Shrubberies often become over-crowded, and some specimens of shrubs may be found only worthless. In this case remove them, and the remaining trees will do much better.
Some flowering shrubs flower on the old, some on the new wood, and the time of year for pruning also varies. Therefore care must be taken to find out the different treatment needed to insure the proper result - i.e., strong and floriferous growth the following season.
When mild weather prevails, planting may be done, including that of deciduous shrubs, and also of any late-flowering bulbs which may remain to be planted, except anemones and ranunculi, which are best left until the spring. Protect shrubs after planting by laying straw or bracken over the roots, and see that they are properly secured to stakes to keep them from being blown about.