As the days get shorter and the nights draw in, it’s time to think about putting the garden to bed for the winter. Clean garden tools and the barbeque and store them away in a shed if you have one, treat outdoor furniture with protective oils, store only perfect, unblemished veg from your vegetable patch – anything damaged won’t keep. A cool, airy shed or garage is the perfect place.
Give your garden a good tidy, but most importantly incorporate organic matter into borders and beds to improve the soil structure and retain moisture. Leaf mould, bark chip, compost, well rotted manure, hay and straw can all be used to dig in or mulch around plants. Mulching helps to protect the roots of plants during the winter, is great for suppressing weeds, and encourages beneficial soil organisms.
The winter months are a magical time in the garden; jewelled frost, robin’s hopping about looking for worms and striking skeletal seed heads bobbing in the crisp breeze. Whilst tidying up your garden, remember to leave late flowering structural perennials and plants with interesting foliage to give aesthetic value over the cold, dark months. Seed heads are also a welcome feast for birds. Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Sedum Stonecrop were made for these moments.
Winter is the perfect time to redesign any elements of your garden that you are not quite happy with. During winter the dormant part of a plants growth is the best time to move or divide it. Perhaps a plant in your garden hasn’t done that well in a certain area – now is the time to move it to a happier position. However, don’t divide those few perennials that are in active growth over the winter, such as Calla lilies, Acanthus, Easter and Spider lilies or spring flowering bulbs.
Redesigning your garden during the winter months is ideal – landscaping projects can be finished before the spring and summer when you want to be out in your garden with family and friends. It is a time when wildlife will be less disturbed, and your plants will be more protected if moved during their dormancy.