I’ve picked the right month to prune - purely by luck

SOUTHSEA GREEN: With Irene Strange

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Liz Bourne and her family have transformed their small Southsea back garden into a grow-your-own plot for fruit and vegetables

I was pleasantly surprised and reassured to hear on Gardeners’ Question Time last weekend that not only had I done something sensible in the garden, but also at the right time of year. By covering the beds with tarpaulin, I was wisely warming the soil for the coming months.

But rather than resting on my laurels, congratulating myself on my uncharacteristically green fingers, I must ignore the sub-zero temperatures and take a look at the mess that is the front garden.

A cursory expedition outside has shown that the lavender is in need of a severe haircut, along with the fruit bushes.

A closer inspection has also revealed several old crisp packets, some chocolate wrappers and, rather inexplicably, a pair of boxer shorts.

I have cleared the garden of this wind-blown detritus and underwear – using rubber gloves, of course – and must now turn my attention to the job of pruning.

This, as I’ve mentioned before, is a mystery to me. Pruning seems like the antithesis of what a gardener should be doing. I want to grow things not indulge in random deforestation.

Yet I do understand that by trimming things back, new growth is encouraged and a better-shaped plant is produced.

After some investigation, I have discovered that now is a good time to prune lavender, so once again I have managed to pick just the right time to carry out a task. Who knows, one day maybe I will just remember this stuff and not rely on luck.