Late Autumn and Winter Garden Tips
As the warm glow of autumn fades into the harsher days of winter, the garden becomes a less attractive place to spend time, but much of the display and pleasure you will enjoy next year in your garden will be boosted by a little extra thought, work and exercise in the next few weeks. Whether you are a professional gardener or groundsman or just looking after your plot at home here are some gentle seasonal tips and reminders.
Flower bed and mixed borders
There is still time to plant tulips and spring bedding plants such as wallflowers, forget-me-nots (Myosotis), foxgloves, winter-flowering pansies and violas, Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), Bellis and more, for a colourful and fragrant display from late March through to May. Incorporate an organic slow-release fertiliser and biochar to get really good results. Many suppliers have end-of-season offers on bulbs at discounted prices at the moment, and most bulbs including Alliums, Fritillaria, Scilla, grape hyacinth and even lilies will produce a display next spring or summer, so take advantage and give them a try. Underplanted bulbs emerging through spring bedding is a classic technique which never fails to deliver!
Containers and hanging baskets
The same rules apply to containers and hanging baskets. Tulips can be planted in containers, and different cultivars can be planted in layers to get a successional display, as long as you check carefully the habit of each variety. Winter-flowering pansies and violas, Sweet William and ornamental ivies make excellent plants for winter hanging baskets. Including strawberries, which will be less prone to slug damage in baskets, will provide extra fun and pleasure in early summer, especially for children.
Early autumn is the traditional time to renovate and repair lawns, scarifying out the accumulated thatch, spiking, autumn feeding, seeding and top-dressing. Depending on the weather it may not be too late yet, although grass seed may lie dormant through the winter, so choose seed treated to deter birds. If nothing else, spiking will always be beneficial and will help to prevent thatch build-up by allowing rain to move quickly from the surface into the soil below.
And finally, before you shut up shop for the winter, make sure that tools, mowers, equipment, pots trays etc. are cleaned, and serviced ready for action when weather allows in the spring, and that greenhouses, sheds and workshops are given a winter tidy.
Mulch borders and tree bases to reduce weed germination, hold in moisture, increase organic matter and improve soil biodiversity. Protect containers and pots, tender plants, seedlings etc. from frosts and snow damage with horticultural fleece, straw or mulch. Bring inside plants that are not winter hardy, and provide a dry cover for any choice alpines which suffer from being too wet in winter.
Then, put your feet up and have a great Christmas and a happy new gardening year!
Blog written by Bernard Sheridan. Bernard is an RHS Master of Horticulture, a Chartered Horticulturist and Member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture. He was awarded the NDT (Institute of Groundsmanship) and is a long-standing Green Flag Award Judge.
Read more from Bernard Sheridan at https://www.theparkkeeper.com/home