Winter Flowering Plants

Bye Bye Summer, Helloooo Winter!

As we wave goodbye to summer, we should be optimistic about the changing of seasons and wave goodbye to droughts too. Research from the RHS proved that Gardeners are happier people in general as they appreciate the here and now whilst still looking forward to the changing of seasons and all that they bring.

Of course on the surface an approaching winter may seem like a nightmare for gardeners, they bring challenges such as snow, however the stalwart green fingered types among us love this time of year when we finally win the war with weeds, and rake up or vacuum all the fallen leaves for mulch. Perfect for the compost bin too.

There’s something quite magical as the Virginia creeper turns from a delicate green to a vibrant red, and as other flowers go to seed and we collect our bounty read for the plant tays early next year, the evergreens stand stark against a baby blue winter skyline.

November is the month for picking the rest of the harvest, with early spring and late summers some crops are still bearing fruit, making that winter warmer dish all the more juicy on a chilly evening.

The quince bush holds wonderful delights, suddenly Britain is cottoning on to the advantages of this versatile mini apple, and although eaten raw they can be poisonous, when cooked they can be used for jams, preserves, chutneys, crumbles and pies, and even make a wonderful addition to a roast dinner or as a filling for ravioli.

Leeks are still standing to attention in the veggie patch, whilst parsnips wait patiently for the first frost to hit, ready to turn their starch into sugar and producing the sweetest root vegetable for the table that will never be mirrored by any large supermarket. It’s only then, at that moment we realise all the hard work we put into our soil those months beforehand.

leeks planting
source : www.pinterest.com

Jerusalem artichokes should have providing a natural privacy with three metre high stems blowing in the wind, and now if picked will add a nuttiness to mash potato, potato gratin or roasted alone as an addition to the pork roast on a Sunday.

Although this may be the last time you mow the lawn until next year, there is a lovely sense of fulfilment with the last mowing knowing that the grass will stay neat and tidy, whilst any weeds pulled up will leave a lovely bare patch of soil until they try to take over again in the spring. It’s also time take take down the hanging baskets and troughs. you might find it’s the last time you use the hedge trimmer until next year too.

Talking of spring, now is the last chance to plant bulbs for spring, try to be a little daring next year, there’s such an array of fantastic tulips on offer, in all different patterns, such as candy stripe and tiger coat, these will stand out as they open just after the last of the snowdrops have vanished.

Then of course, winter wouldn’t be winter without fallen logs. It’s the perfect time for pruning trees(with nice secateurs) as winds can reach extraordinary forces making short work of old branches that are ready to fall. Investing in a log splitter will make short work of the chopping, there’s even electric and petrol versions if you don’t want to get too heavy with it, and give you clean cut wood that’s perfect for stacking in the shed or wood store, and if you do find the nights a little too mild yet for a full fire, place them in a cool hearth for a touch of winter decoration.

Garden spring-summer

Get your garden sorted now for next spring and summer

Many gardeners delight in the start of November because it feels like a fresh start – its an opportunity to creatively plot and plan next years garden. In other words, your chance to embark on a garden make-over and get things ready for spring next year!

November, of course, also coincides with the emergence of a whole wonderful array of rural wildlife seeking shelter, including native birds and those from abroad in need of winter weather a lot warmer than what they’re used to.

For insects and other garden-seeking creatures, fallen leaves and dying plants are a great source of shelter and food. So, if your surviving plants can survive being surrounded by leaves, it’s a good way of helping our furry – and not-so-furry – friends survive the winter weather blight while we’re tucked up cosy indoors. Having said that, leaves lying around for months on lawns are fatal for grass so those must be raked or sucked up with a leaf vacuum.

Birds

It’s a good idea to start hanging out fat balls for birds around now as well as adding to the summer selection of food you’d normally provide when it starts to get too dry and the wildlife in your garden suffers. But don’t just add peanuts and berries. Like us, our feathered friends have their own preferences too. For instance Robins like to munch on oats, greenfinch and blue tits are partial to black sunflower seeds and tree sparrows can’t see past millet grain. Remember to put out water and check it hasn’t frozen over.

Digging

If you’re going to go the whole hog and make-over your garden or at least divide it into new borders, then now is the perfect time to put your plan into action chiefly because the frosts in November are excellent at breaking up heavy clay soil. And this, thankfully, makes digging far less back-breaking next spring. When digging the ground make sure all the roots from weeds are removed.

Plant care

Now is also a  good time to transplant those trees and shrubs to fit in with your new design. If roses, fruit trees, tulips or hard herbaceous plants were part of your plan then plant them now – while there’s still a little warmth in the soil.

For plants you know won’t survive the winter winds and freezing temperatures, wrap them up well in bubble wrap or plastic sheeting and secure with twine. You could also move them to a more sheltered spot, or even indoors. It’s time to pull down the hanging baskets and clear them for next spring.

plant care

Other tasks to get stuck into this November include:

  • Digging over new beds before Jack Frost descends
  • Repairing and cleaning gardening tools then rubbing in linseed oil to prevent rusting
  • Planting any shrubs for the following year
  • Lifting pots above the ground to prevent them getting water-logged
  • Taking hardwood cuttings from roses and shrubs with sharp secateurs.
  • Protecting fruit trees by wrapping grease bands around the trunk
  • Spreading fresh manure on vegetable beds to allow it to sink into soil over the winter.This will also help keep your plants hydrated in the summer drought.

Make your own leaf mould

Collect leaves lying on your path and terrace and place in garden bags (make sure the bags are thin enough to let light in). Add a little water to the leaves, tie the top of the bags and, with a pair of scissors or knife, make small holes in the bag (this gives the leaves breathing space). Now put them in a sheltered corner in your garden and check from time to time to see if they need any more water. Hey presto next spring you’ll have some lovely rich hand-made plant-boosting formula. And better still, it didn’t cost a penny! It’s time to say bye to summer, and hello to winter!