Put Your Garden To Bed for the Winter
As a professional gardener, i’ve seen it so often before, the weather turns a little colder, the rain starts to fall, and the nights draw in. All of a sudden the gardening tools get cleaned and stored away never to see the light of day till April comes around. Unfortunately, there are a few essential jobs to do before you put your feet up and pour yourself a stiff drink! If you want to be ahead of the game next spring and ensure a good crop of flowers, fruit or vegetables, then it’s time to put your garden to bed properly with a little winter gardening! Get it ready for the harsh months of winter to come, before it gets to look like this…
Assessing Your Garden
Now is the time to take a good look at how the garden performed, evaluate your plants, what did well and what didn’t do so well. Make notes as you walk around, think about starting a photographic diary to remind you of what certain areas looked like (trust me unless you’re in your garden every day, you will forget). Decide what’s going to go, and what’s to stay, now to get your hands dirty, again…. 🙂
N.L.L.O.A.L – NEVER LEAVE LEAVES ON A LAWN!
Sorry for the capitals but it’s a real bug-bear of mine, i see people spending money on lawn feed and weed for their lawns every spring and summer, they tend it carefully, water it dilligently, then when the winter arrives, they disappear! Look, i know raking a lawn is not much fun, but it’s essential if you want to keep that beautiful lawn for the following year, so you have 2 choices, either dust off your spring-tine rake, or increasingly popular and very handy now are the purpose made leaf rakes, with wide plastic tines, good for collecting the leaves without damaging the lawn, or buy yourself a leaf blower and get those leaves off! If you have the space, create a bin or chicken wire basket to put the leaves in for leaf mould, a great mulch for the new year!
Roses – what to do now
Winter Prune Your Roses
Don’t panic, this is a very simple job, mainly for large hybrid tea roses that may suffer from ‘root rock’ due to strong winter winds undermining the roots from the plant rocking about in the wind, thus undermining the plant, simply reduce the size of the rose by a third, pruning to just above a healthy bud. Next completely remove all dead stems back to a healthy stem, when all this is done, move onto the next step.
Collect Fallen Leaves
First of all to help prevent the spread of Black Spot, make sure you collect up all the fallen rose leaves from the bed, then burn them, don’t put them on your compost! It’s a tedious job, but it will help the roses in the long run, it wont cure black spot, but it will help. Unfortunately for us, Black Spot evolves, so just because a rose grower has created a ‘disease resistant’ strain of your favourite rose this year, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be so next year i’m afraid.
Spray Roses with Sulphur
Sulphur is a deterrent to black spot, and many years ago when we relied more heavily on coal fires, black spot was virtually unheard of. So when you have cleaned up and around your roses, give them a spray with Sulphur Rose 1kg economy pack over the stems and on the soil around them. As soon as the summer leaves are formed you should spray these too, including the underside of the leaves throughout the growing season!
The Dreaded Weeding
Provided the soil is not absolutely sodden, and you are not likely to compact the soil too much, this is a great time to really get on top of those pernicious weeds! They will have virtually stopped growing by now, and you can take this time to really get on top of the weeding. Use a small border fork and get stuck in! If you have a vegetable garden, be patient and wait for a frost forecast, dig over the soil in large clumps and let the frost break it up for you, whilst killing off the weed seedlings too.
They gave you a wonderful show, but now they’re looking brown, dead and rather sad. If you are happy with their size and how they performed, cut the dead stems down to the crown, then cover with a good layer of compost, they will love it. If you have some plants that are taking over part of your border, maybe it’s time to split them and spread them around your garden, or better still share them with your friends and family? I did this recently with a clients’ Monbretia plant (Crocosmia), whilst Monbretia likes to be crowded before it flowers well, when they become overcrowded the flowers will decline, so…
After cutting the leaves to about 4 inches from the crown, i carefully dug up the whole plant, once out of the ground i began to split it up into several small clumps using 2 border forks, placing them back to back, with the points of the tines close together, stamp them through the main clump, then draw the 2 handles together slowly, this will separate the plant with less damage than would a spade chopping through it. I ended up with 4 nice clumps of Monbretia to replant, and 1 good clump for the client to give away!
Mulching Your Garden
I touched on this earlier, but if you are lucky enough to have a healthy compost heap, now is the time to spread this liberally over your garden, over your herbaceous plants, roses, around trees, and particularly one place i never see amateur gardeners mulching, beneath a hedge! Hedges are just like any other plant, they like a little TLC, watering, feeding and a nice mulch over winter, yet i just never see this being done, look after your hedge and it will look after you!
At the moment here in the UK, it’s still fairly warm, wet, but warm, and the grass is still growing, if we get some drying winds in the next couple of weeks i will probably try and get a final lawn cut in before Christmas. However, if you’ve had enough, and you want to stack your lawnmower away at the back of your shed, remember to drain the fuel out of it, otherwise this will go stale and if you try and start your mower in the new year with stale fuel, you’re in for a few problems! Clean and dry off any blades, hedge trimmers, lawn edging shears, garden shears etc. Clean your hand tools, forks, spades, and pay particular attention to your secateurs, especially if the are a good pair, i personally use Felco no2 Original Secateurs but because i use them so much, i tend to dismantle them completely and clean them every couple of months, and spray them regularly with WD40, they are my most important tool, and i’ve had the same pair since i began professional gardening over 22 years ago…
I hope this post has been helpful, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment in the box below, thanks for reading.
Hoff signing off 😉