Posted: 22/09/2013 at 09:53
I agree with Berghill about growing what does well.
Winters have been particularly hard since Jan 2009 and were already harder than the average UK winter. It's not so bad when there's a snow blanket to protect plants but lethal when it's cold and dry or cold and very wet for long periods. I've lost count of the shrubs and plants I have lost and have stopped buying fancy plants with wussy tendencies and stick to good doers that will cope.
The best way to protect plants is a good mulch so that at least the crown is protected. They have the added benefit of improving the soil. After that, wind breaks which can be either porous wooden fences, shrubs or special netting stretched on posts or wire fences. Fleece is fine in a greenhouse but looks dreadful in gardens and gets blown to bits in the first gale.