During the winter you would think not much happens over the cold bleak months; the mass of flowers have ended, perennials have died down and the ground can turn to iron! Now it’s time to spare a thought for the wildlife and all those plants that have Spring in the forefront of their mind!
In the Autumn we can be one of two gardeners! We can launch a super get-everywhere tidy campaign, cutting down all the old growth on perennials, clearing up any trace of leaves along with jet washing all the patios... or we can be more laid back and think “well, I’ll do a bit but sort the rest out next year!”.
Now there are benefits to both sides of the story! Cutting all your plants back in the Autumn does help tidy up the borders and help the frost break up the surface layer of soil for the spring, but these old clumps of brown leaves are great insect hotels during those winter months. My advice would be to either leave some beds not cut down, or to make sure to sprinkle these old trimmings on some bare out-of-sight ground which will allow ladybirds, beetles and other insects, as well as hedgehogs, to spend the Winter months there.
After cutting back your plants, during those dormant months is the busiest time of the year for bulbs, getting their roots down ready for the spring explosion. And it’s also a great time of year to be planting winter evergreens and other hardy plants. Filling those spaces now allows them to get healed in before the spring months.
Was the garden a bit bare, or maybe a bit green last year? Then why not incorporate a nice Holly bush which, in years to come, will give an abundance of cut foliage to decorate the house over the festive period. Or you could plant some winter flowering shrubs like Witch Hazels, with their unusual displays of zesty scented flowers in red, yellow and orange.
Also remember that with the cold temperatures in December and January, winter flowering shrubs can hold their blossom for six to eight weeks, as it is the sun combined with high temperatures that makes flowers fade.
Finally to get some showstopping colour around the house, then there is no better way than making up some pots or window planters with some colourful winter bedding in, along with hanging up some winter baskets laced with bulbs ready for the spring. Bellis and Pansies are my favourite, giving you all the colours under the sun. Feed weekly with tomato food to increase the flower size and watch them lighten up the garden for weeks to come!