Tips for Winter Gardening
Dormant does not mean dead!
On the contrary life continues below as roots keep on growing beneath the surface and therefore it is wise not to compact the soil by treading on it!
One job that can be done especially if the weather is kind is to chop back – not all – but those untidy, soggy perennials: leave some as nature intended to protect the crowns of plants from the worst of the winter weather. Don`t feel you must tidy every plant, those with attractive seed heads for instance, are winter food for birds and insects, and a little untidiness gives shelter to overwintering butterfly pupae and invertebrates. Many and various ornamental grasses like the dried fronds of Miscanthus look great in the winter alongside the evergreen ones.
Half-hardy plants in pots or containers should be protected by garden fleece, bubble wrap or old jumpers around the pot and perhaps a dry mulch over the crown of the plant. Check from time to time! Best kept in the lea of the house wall where its warmer.
Hardwood cuttings are a great way of increasing your stock of plants for free at this time of year. Use deciduous hardwood and new growth is the most successful. They must be pencil thin and approximately 8” long (20cm), cut tapered at the top just above a bud and flat at the bottom so that you don`t mix these up! Plant the cuttings 5” apart (12.5cm) on free draining soil with grit in the base or around the edge of a deep pot with bottom grit added, and left for about twelve months – so easy and worth the wait, a gentle tug will tell you when they have taken!
Winter colour: why not plant up a container with winter flowering Camellias? One of the best is ‘Yuletide’ which could be in flower for weeks in clement weather, and perhaps some Hellebores (white Christmas rose)? These need ericaceous free draining compost as they are acid lovers and should be placed in a sunny spot, not east-facing as the early sun on frost will kill the flowers.
There is always something to do in the garden! If you enjoy your garden come and join us at Saddleworth Gardening Club on Monday afternoons: November to April at the Civic hall, Uppermill (1.30-3.30pm). It is only £3 for guests including tea /coffee. Our next meeting is 7th January with a demonstration and talk by Todmorden`s Willow artist Joevanka Gregory from `Creative with Nature`
For full details call our secretary Lesley Powell on Tel: 01457 871220
I hope you’ve found this helpful! I’ll sign off with part of a poem which sums up that winter feeling for me:
Cow bells hanging from old roses
Dried fennel heads form winter posies
Brave bay and stout Hebe bare
The winters frost with ne`er a care.
Happy Gardening and see you next time!