Preparing the Garden for Winter
What should we be doing at this point in the season with Christmas almost upon us? No one is looking for extra jobs but there is still potentially a great deal that can be achieved outside. It is also a great time to pick some of the best foliage so we can enjoy the garden indoors over the Christmas season. Firstly, this is the best time to plant fruit bushes, trees and bare-rooted stock such as roses, trees shrubs and hedging plants . Plants are cheaper in their bare rooted form and at this time of the year they should re-establish well. One tip that is becoming popular is to sprinkle some Mycorrhizal fungi under the roots when you plant. It acts also like a placenta, accessing the nutrients in the soil and supplying them to the plant, thus encouraging good root establishment. It is particularly helpful in exhausted soil.
Now is a good time to mulch your beds as this will insulate the ground. Boosting borders with organic matter will encourage the worms to work the soil through winter. After the first few frosts of winter cover up your rhubarb with a terracotta forcer and mulch well with organic manure around the outside of the pot. This should give you a good early crop.
The nights are drawing in and if your summer pots have not perished in the frost they will do very soon. Don’t despair, create some colourful containers from the wonderful display of winter bedding.
As we approach Christmas it’s lovely to see festive pots of red berried Skimmia mixed with the red foliage, a small variegated holly and red berried Gaultheria, a trailing ivy, rich red Heucheras and white violas. It’s Christmas in a pot!
Pots are great by the front door because you will enjoy them as you pass in and out of your home. They are also a good way to boost an unexciting border. Hide a pot full of seasonal colour amongst your green shrubs. As the pot stands a little higher than the border plants the impression of colour and the focus will be closer to eye level. A New Zealand flax, a silver Pittosporum or a dwarf weeping Cotoneaster tree may be the perfect feature emerging from a bland unremarkable area. The pots can be moved in the spring or summer when other features become prominent.
When planting pots at this time of the year it is marvellous how much plant life is on hand to use. You can simply plant bowls of Violas or if you are more adventurous select from appealing coloured evergreens like Photina Little Red Robin, small berried shrubs like Pernettya or Gaultheria, spiky grasses such as Carex testacea and Uncinia ‘Rubra’, trailing plants like Thyme, creeping Rosemary and ivy. To bring in texture use evergreen ferns such as Phyllitis Scolopendruim and Polystichum Plumosum Densum and for spectacular foliage colour you cannot beat Heucheras.
Fill the pot with good shrub compost or lime free compost if you want to take advantage of plants that are hardy but may not thrive in the local soil. Choose colours that tone and harmonise, or if you would like it to be really outrageous plants that contrast. Engage your artistic eye when planning what to plant in your container. Winter containers will not make mammoth growth in one season like summer bedding plants, not while the weather is cold, so your arrangement will remain as you planted it
Thanks to our gardens our homes need not be dreary at Christmas. It is traditional at Advent and to bring lots of free uplifting evergreen foliage into our homes to decorate. We can get into the festive spirit while creating Holly wreaths, garlands, table decorations and hanging the mistletoe. Mixing foliage textures like Leylandii, Yew, Spruce and colours like silver Euonymus, dark green Ivy and red Photinia takes only a little imagination. If you would like some help or jolly company and mulled wine while creating with foliage on hand, we will be making wreaths on Thursday 8th December and Saturday 10th and table decorations on Saturday 17th at 11am. Please call to book for workshops.
Lastly it might not be cold yet, but it will be soon, so don’t forget to feed the birds!