Gardens need meticulous care in all seasons, and in the run up to winter it is no different, with a wide variety of jobs that need attention and require completion to ensure gardens arrive in tip top shape for spring.
Whether it involves bringing winter colour into your garden, pruning and protecting existing plants, storing compost and outdoor furniture, or planting spring flowering bulbs, Wyevale Garden Centres conveniently lists 10 tips to wind down your garden for winter in order to create a beautiful garden in spring.
Julian Palphramand, Horticulture buyer, says: “As the season gets colder and wetter, working in your garden doesn’t seem much fun. It’s still important to look after it at this time of year, however, to get it ready for spring. There aren’t as many jobs as in earlier months, but you’ll be thankful for spending the time when spring comes round and your garden bursts into bloom. So, pull your wellies and your warm clothes on, bring out a hot thermos of tea and enjoy the idea that your hard work will be helping to produce a glorious garden in a few months time!”
Wyevale Garden Centres 10 tips to wind down your garden for winter:
- Winter colour: Ward off the winter blues and cheer up your pots and borders with colourful winter flowering varieties such as cyclamen, pansy, polyanthus, and winter-flowering daphne. If you’re planting these in ceramic pots, make sure the pots are frost resistant.
- Plant spring bulbs: There’s nothing like the first spring bulbs poking their little heads through the soil for you to know that warmer weather is on the way. Plant flowering bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths and crocus in September; lilies, alliums and crocosmia in September and October and tulips in November for spring flowering. You can plant them almost anywhere; in beds, pots, under deciduous trees and shrubs, or naturalised in lawns. You just need to use good quality compost such as John Innes No 3 – and remember to plant them the right way up!
- Store summer flowering bulbs and tubers: Lifting and storing summer flowering bulbs and tubers will help them survive the winter to be replanted next year. Make sure they are completely dry before you store them and check regularly for any rotting or damaged parts.
- Lawns: If it’s not too wet, you can still scarify your lawn into October and mow and aerate it into November. You might even get away without mowing, unless there’s a mild spell and the grass keeps growing. In that case, you can just mow occasionally on a high cut setting. If your lawn gets a lot of wear and tear you might want to add an additional feed in autumn to help it rejuvenate through winter. Something like Scotts Lawn Builder Autumn Lawn Food works well.
- Prune and protect: Cut back any perennials that have died down and prune roses, which you may also need to spray with a fungicide if they are diseased. Protect tender plants and keep them warm with horticultural fleece or bubble wrap, which doesn’t look quite as professional, but works just as well!
- Evergreens: Some evergreens are as noted for their flowers and strong scents as they are for keeping their leaves through winter. Plant varieties such as Daphne bholua‘Jacqueline Postill’, Coronilla valentina Glauca as well as viburnums and skimmias.
- Storing compost: If you have unopened bags of compost, store them under cover or off the ground so rain can’t get in. Any opened bags of compost may be contaminated with microorganisms, so don’t use them for sowing seeds or cuttings next year, but for working into the garden to improve the soil.
- Barbecues and outdoor furniture: It’s best – but not always possible – to keep barbecues and outdoor furniture in a shed or outbuilding over winter, but you can also invest in a specially made breathable cover that will help to protect your furniture from the elements. Clean and dry your furniture before putting it inside or attaching the cover and don’t leave your furniture on grass as it creates moisture, which can lead to damage. Winter is also a good time to treat wooden furniture with protective wood oil.
- Garden tools: Scrape mud off spades and forks, or dip the blades in warm soapy water before drying if the mud is caked on and clean and oil metal blades on your tools before you put them away for winter. This will help to avoid rust. Store your tools as best you can to avoid damage and rust.
- Sweep up leaves: You can keep sweeping up leaves and turn them into leaf mould, which is an environmentally friendly – and cost effective! – way to enrich your soil. Fill a dustbin bag with leaves, and then wet them to help rot them down. Tie up the bag and punch holes in it with a fork and store somewhere such as behind a shed or at the back of some shrubs. After a year or so, the leaf mould will turn into a great weed suppressing mulch and after two years, you’ll have a fine mould perfect for soil conditioning and making composts.
For more information about Wyevale Garden Centres, visit www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk.