Winter is well and truly on our doorsteps and with the approach of a new season, SoGlos spoke to Glenn Satterthwaite from The Fairview Gardener for some winter gardening tips. From protecting your plants from frost to helping out hibernating wildlife, there’s still plenty to do in the garden this season.
The Fairview Gardener in Birdwood stocks a wide range of quality plants and garden equipment. Specialising in hardy plants, fruit trees, herbaceous perennials, trees, shrubs and bedding plants, the friendly team are always on-hand to offer gardening and landscaping advice.
The tea room serves delicious cakes and sweet treats as well as wholesome meals, created using locally-sourced ingredients.
If you’ve got really tender plants, subtropical plants or evergreens, you need to put a layer of fleece over them. This takes away five to six degrees of frost. The fleece is a very thin material, it’s white – so it looks like a ghost! You literally just put it over the plants, tying the fleece around certain plants to protect their centre points.
You have to be careful; in winter, it’s not necessarily the frost that kills plants. In pots for example, it can be the roots that get damaged. The frost can attack the roots and, when this happens, the roots break. When the plant can’t take up water, it dies of drought. That’s why you sometimes have to bubble wrap your pots as well, just to make sure that they’re safe too.
Most plants have lost their leaves at this time of year which is nature’s mechanism of going into dormancy; it knows that the leaves can’t cope with frost. Evergreen plants are the ones that are susceptible because they have to go through the whole of winter with the frost and snow, being beaten by the elements. So you just have to be really careful with plants such as camellias, bay trees and pittosporums.
If you do get a heavy snow, you just need to tap off all the snow to help the plant along its way. Otherwise, the weight of the snow can break branches off. It’s the same with evergreen trees.
Yes, it’s a really good time to plant bare root plants. From now all the way through to when the plants are starting to reshoot, which is normally around April, it’s the best time to get them in the ground. This is because, again, they’re in dormancy at this time of year and planting them now won’t stress them at all.
In the winter, it’s good to get the plant in as early as possible and let it get some fibrous roots down. Once they’re down they can start taking up water itself, rather than you having to artificially water it.
You just have to look at nature to see how it does it. In a woodland for example, there are always some trees or branches that have fallen on the ground and it’s these that insects and wildlife like to hibernate in. So, put out rooteries or bug houses to give insects somewhere to go in the winter.
Be careful with bonfires. If you’re having a big tidy up in the garden, just make sure that there aren’t any mice or hedgehogs hidden in the piles of wood. There are also certain plants you could put in your garden that can actually help wildlife get through winter. Berried plants are good for this, as well as nut plants.
Plants that are using insects to pollinate need to be incredibly highly scented in the winter to attract the right insects. Winter Sweet Box, for example, is a beautiful plant – it’s really unassuming; it looks like a box hedge but it has these little white star-shaped flowers which have the most amazing scent. Winter Honeysuckles are small and insignificant in some ways, but the scent off those is stunning too.
There’s a huge trend at the moment for succulents. They’re such an easy plant to look after; all you have to do is give them one good water every so often and then let them totally dry out. Succulents have swollen leaves which tell you when it needs more water; when they pucker, just give it a bit more.
There are so many types of succulents, from hanging ones to Aloe Vera. Plants in the house are beneficial for air purification, so everyone is going back to house plants again and it’s such a popular trend.
At this time of year, we’re very Christmassy! We’ve got plenty of Christmas trees, a full range of gifts and house plants too. Before Christmas, we’ll be getting all of our potatoes in stock; we’ll have 45-50 different varieties of potato which will all be sold loose.
All in all, winter is a good time of year to plan your allotment and think about what you want to put in your garden in the spring; it’s a good time to sit back and reflect, I think.
Thursday 12 December 2019
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