Gardening Tasks to Do Before Winter Sets In

Autumn is the perfect time to get out into the garden for several reasons. When the rain is not endlessly, well, raining, the cooler temperatures make it much more pleasant to work outside compared to the heat of summer. Many plants and flowers are still thriving and it’s an opportunity to enjoy the garden before the bitter cold sets in. Doing the ground work in autumn ensures that it remains healthy throughout the winter months, gets ready to set the stage come spring and has the potential to provide shelter for wildlife. Get your garden ready for the colder months with these six suggestions from our Garden Director, June.

1. ) Check your pots
Ensure that your potted plants have proper drainage by checking if they are placed in pots with holes at the base. Additionally, remember to water your plants during dry spells in the winter season. Make a note whether any need re-potting in the spring time.

2.) Protect your wildlife
As the days grow shorter and the nights become colder, animals and insects seek refuge in gardens that offer protection and food sources. If you have already pruned any of your herbaceous plants, gather the stems together in discreet corners of your garden to create cozy hiding spots for hedgehogs.

3.) Look after tender perennials, such as dahlias and some salvias
To lift and store tender perennials such as dahlias and some varieties of salvias, begin by carefully digging up the plants, taking care not to damage the tubers. Shake off any excess soil and trim back the foliage. Gently wash off any remaining soil and allow the plants to dry completely. Once dry, place the plants in a cool and dark location. We store our dahlia tubers in compost to prevent them from drying out. You can also wrap them in newspaper and store in a breathable cardboard box.

4.) Be prepared for frost
Protect young seedlings sown in the autumn from frosty temperatures and harsh winds by placing them in a sheltered area such as a green house, a cold frame, or a covered area of the garden. Another option is to cover the seedlings with a layer of fleece. Fleece acts as a protective barrier, insulating the plants and preventing frost from settling on their leaves.

5. ) Prune your shrubs
Once mature flowering shrubs have dropped their leaves, it is important to prune them to maintain their health and shape. Pruning helps to remove any dead or damaged branches, encourages new growth, and improves the overall appearance of the shrub. To prune mature flowering shrubs, start by removing around one-third of the older stems from the base of the plant. This selective pruning helps to rejuvenate the shrub by stimulating the growth of new stems and branches.

6.) Vegetable beds
Mulching empty vegetable beds with homemade compost or leaf litter made in the previous year helps to protect and nourish your soil during the winter months. By adding a layer of organic matter, you can provide insulation, retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and improve soil structure. Plus, it’s a circular gardening practice that benefits both your garden and the environment.

Another reason why autumn is the perfect time to get out into the garden is the availability of seasonal plants and bulbs, often at more cost effective prices. Nurseries and garden centres offer a wide variety of autumn-flowering plants – think asters, heuchera, ornamental grasses. Planting these in your garden not only adds colour and interest but also attracts pollinators before they go into hibernation. It’s a good time to reflect on your garden. Take the time to evaluate which plants thrived and which ones struggled. Consider experimenting with new plant varieties or incorporating different colours and textures into your garden. And use the winter months to research and plan for any changes you would like to make, such as creating new flower beds or trying your hand at veg growing.

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