After such a glorious summer allowing plenty of opportunity to spend time outside, many of us will have spent ample time out in the garden getting our hands dirty. As one of the warmest summers on record and in stark contrast to last year, some of us might have even embarked on our first foray into gardening.
No amount of sunshine this summer has halted the sudden chill in the air however, so as winter approaches how can we prevent all our hard work being undone and keep our gardens beautiful over the colder months? Whether you’re wondering how to protect your veg patch and keep it fertile for next spring, pondering how to best safeguard your florals, or simply keep your garden beautiful and full of life, here are some tips on getting your garden ready for winter.
Keeping your Garden in Bloom
After a long, hot summer of being surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, bare trees and empty flower beds is a rather gloomy prospect. Our own experienced garden designer Helen Ellison gives us some recommendations on how to keep your garden in bloom, even in the winter:
Which plants should you plant now?
Now is the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils, Tulips, Convallaria (Lily of the Valley), Crocus, Galanthus (Snowdrops), Fritillaries and Hyacinths, as they will have time to develop roots before the soil freezes. Choose locations that will have full sun come spring.
For winter interest, pots and hanging baskets are ideal. Winter flowering Erica, Gaultheria Mucronata, Skimmia ‘Rubella’, Cyclamen, winter flowering Pansies, small-leaved and trailing Ivy are all great options for a splash of winter colour.
Aside from these, autumn is also a good time to plant deciduous hedges, shrubs and trees. Bare-rooted specimens are particularly good value. Evergreens are best left until the spring though.
How can these be best maintained over the colder months?
Once planted, bulbs should need no maintenance. Once the flowers have finished in the spring, leave the foliage on the plant for at least six weeks so that nutrients can be drawn back into the bulbs for next year.
In order to keep winter-interest planting looking good, simply dead-head faded flowers and take off any dead or damaged foliage. Remember to water pots in porches, etc.
If we get heavy snow, shake it off the branches of shrubs and trees in order to prevent damage.
Are there any actions that should be taken during the winter in preparation for spring to keep things beautiful?
After all leaves have fallen, be sure to rake them up and either place on compost heap in pierced black bags (to make leaf mould which can be used as a mulch), or get rid of them. This not only makes the garden look tidy but also reduces places for slugs and snails to hide.
Protect any tender plants from frost either by putting them in a greenhouse, or by mulching with straw. Covering the soil in this way will protect the roots of your plants.
Try to stay off planting beds and lawns in very wet weather so as not to compact the soil.
This article can be seen in full at Turtle Mat’s Blog
By Helen Ellison