How to get the most out of your garden this winter
Winter is the time your garden slumbers, riding out the worse that the British weather can throw at it, from heavy rain to sub-zero temperatures. It is the season in which we curl up in front of the fire, warm, cosy and protected against the elements. And this is how you should treat your plants over winter too. By ensuring your garden is protected against the winter weather, there is nothing that can stop its progress. We’ve asked Rattan Direct to share some hints and tips for protecting your garden’s progress and choosing the best winter garden plants.
What are the best winter garden plants?
- Bare-rooted plants like shrubs and roses can be planted when the soil is soft enough to dig, but the plants themselves are dormant. These soil conditions are ideal for encouraging new roots.
- You can also dig up and replant overgrown woody plants that need moving.
- It is also the ideal time to plant a new hedge. Dig a trench and plant deciduous hedging plants such as beech and hawthorn.
- Planting a new tree is also a possibility but it will need staking to hold the base, preventing the roots being rocked in the wind. The more substantial the stake the better.
Not everything goes to sleep in winter. There are some delicious seasonal veg that you can grow in your garden.
- Parsnips, for example, always taste better after a touch of frost but if you are not so keen on battling through an icy garden to lift them, then lift the, in November. Store in boxes of sand to keep them disease-free during the winter.
- Cauliflower can be damaged by severe frost so spend a few therapeutic minutes wrapping their central leaves around the curds and tie off with string.
- Pigeons will make a beeline for your brassicas too, as they face an ongoing battle to find food over the winter. Protect your brassicas with netting, secured at ground level so birds don’t get caught in it.
Plant fruit trees
- Bare-rooted fruit trees and bushes can be planted in winter, when the soil is soft and providing that there is plenty of organic matter, compost or a healthy dollop of farm yard manure, in the hole before planting.
- Summer fruiting raspberry canes can also be planted in a freshly-dug trench, working in compost as you plant. Every two metres, plant a stake and stretch three wires or twine between them, equidistant apart. These becomes the scaffold that supports the canes as they grow, becoming heavy as they bear fruit in the summer.
- Blackcurrant bushes also thrive in winter gardens with a freshly dug hole and plenty of organic matter. Plant low in the hole, leaving a 10cm stem above the ground to encourage new growth from the base.
- If you are storing any fruits over winter, check them regularly for rot.
Caring for your prized blooms
- Dahlias that have finishes flowering should be lifted before the onset of winter and the leaves have turned black after the first frost. Cut the plant down to around 15cm and dig up the tubers, shaking off the soil and giving the tuber a good wash. Hang upside down to allow the sap to drain from the stem. Allow them to dry in a shed or garage and then stack them in trays with plenty of air holes.
- If you are a lover of tulips, before the sogginess of winter sets in, plant tulip bulbs in November. If your soil is water-logged, plant them in containers with well-draining soil until the spring.
- Michaelmas daisies can be dug up and divided, giving you more stock for the spring months. Tender plants can be protected from winter weather with a deep mulch of straw.
General winter protection
It would be a perfect solution if we could bring everything in from the garden, but this is not logistically possible, nor is it desirable!
Follow these general winter protection tips;
- Insulate large pots and plants to protect vital root systems from the cold – use hessian sacks or bubble wrap
- Remove pond pumps and clean, and leave them to dry before storing for the winter
- Check fence posts and panels are secure; if not, repair before the winter storms hit
- Insulate outdoor taps with bubble warp and a carrier bag
Although we tend to think of winter as a time that is barren and deficient of any garden activity, it is an important season where, as a gardener, you take time and effort to protect your plants. If you do, you will reap the rewards in spring.
Rattan Direct have a growing range of garden accessories and furniture, perfect for your garden, no matter what time of the year.