Spring is on its way
We are past the shortest day and the nights are getting a bit lighter, not a bad idea to put a coat on and check that the garden is still there. Whether you do any gardening or just soak up a little tranquillity is up to you. As a rule I don't touch any plants when its below freezing, partly because it makes my fingers cold, also because frozen leaves are very fragile.
A bonfire always cheers things up so you could collect up leaves and twigs and set fire to them, it always seems easier to be collecting things to keep the bonfire going than just tidying up the garden. Then there are the green shoots you discover under the leaves, they set you thinking that Spring is not far off now.
It's not a bad idea to check the stakes on any young trees you have planted. I always enjoy throwing old tree stakes on the bonfire, once rotted off at the ground the stake is being held up by the tree, as opposed to the other way round, so has little purpose. Also a tight tree tie can strangle a young tree and may even cause it to snap off.
Once the worst of the cold weather is past it is a good time to cut things back. Cut them back too early and you may get some dieback and have to do it again, too late and they may have already started to shoot. Then there is the right time, you can only be sure of it when it has past.
Plants that set their flower buds in the autumn such a Rhododendrons and Magnolias always interest me, carrying the young flower buds through the winter seems crazy, till you realise that they are ready to flower as soon as the weather picks up and get ahead of the rest. The garden is a competitive place.