Though you may not think it, winter is an extremely important and busy time in the garden. As the season changes to the colder months, there is a lot of clearance to do in your green space. Herbaceous plants need to be cut back to ground level and composted, whilst shrubs can be shaped and pruned. If you’re preparing your winter garden it’s also the ideal time to actually buy some new plants and place them into their final positions. You’ll find a great range of products for your garden at stores such as B and Q, and though the evenings are drawing in, getting into the garden now will reap great benefits for the spring and summer season next year.
At this time of year you should make sure you’re collecting leaves as they fall, either putting them on the compost heap or tying them into black plastic bags where they’ll rot down over the next six months and create leaf mulch. Whilst a few fallen leaves can remain on flowerbeds where they’ll be pulled into the earth by worms, you should clear lawns and paths.
It is also the ideal time of year to transplant existing shrubs. As the colder weather instigates plant dormancy, flowering shrubs, herbaceous plants and even small trees can be moved as root damage will be kept to a minimum. Once in place they’ll awake in spring and put out their tender new roots without disturbance. If you have misplaced plants in your garden then set aside some time to move them to a new position so that you’ll enjoy renewed vigour in the following spring and summer seasons.
In addition to moving existing plants, now is the ideal time to actually plant new shrubs, winter and spring bulbs, and overwintering vegetables. Garlic cloves, overwintering onions and broad beans can all be sown now, allowing them to get a head start on those that are planted in spring so that you have early crops. Meanwhile, snowdrop, crocus, daffodil and tulip bulbs are ideal for planting, giving you the chance to enjoy their spring blooms as the weather warms next year. Whilst you can put in bulbs in late winter you’ll find that they may not flower, so taking advantage of crisp autumnal and early winter days is perfect for planting.
The winter period is also an ideal time to enrich the soil by adding compost and manure. Whilst you can add compost at any time of year, manure is often too potent to be simply layered onto flowerbeds. In this form it can scorch leaves and growing roots, actually causing damage rather than benefiting plants. However, during the winter when many plants have died back and roots are not actively growing, the addition of manure to flower beds and vegetable patches is ideal. Cold weather will help break down lumps of muck, whilst snow and rain will draw nutrients down into the soil so that when spring arrives you’ll see renewed growth from your garden plants.
With many tasks to do you’ll find that your autumn and winter gardening is full of work. But, by taking the time and trouble now, you’ll ensure that next year’s garden is even more full of flowers and foliage than this year was.