It’s that time of the year again when the clocks have gone back and the days become shorter and darker, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
There is still plenty of colour and scent to be enjoyed in the garden with wintering shrubs such as Mahonia, Winter jasmine and Sarcococca at their best and our top ten jobs to do now will ensure your garden stays healthy for the rest of the winter.
- Plant Spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils and winter bedding for instant colour including Pansies and Cyclamen
- Plant out fruit trees and bare-root hedging
- Insulate your pots and containers from frost
- Protect tender plants by covering with fleece, bubblewrap or bring indoors
- Put up nest boxes and clean and replenish bird feeders
- Prune and mulch roses and plant new varieties
- Plant soft fruit such as blackcurrants for delicious berries next year
- Rake fallen leaves for fantastic nutrient rich compost
- Apply an autumn feed to your lawn
- Lift and divide perennials and move shrubs that have out grown their space.
BEDS AND BORDERS
Plant tulips and Narcissi ‘Tete-a-Tete’ in your borders or pots for a stunning and colourful display next spring. It’s also the perfect time to plant out seasonal bedding for winter displays such as Wallflowers, Viola’s, Pansies, Primroses, and Cyclamen. Plant them in well prepared ground or in pots of multi purpose compost.
Continue to cut back faded or finished herbaceous perennials and add to the compost heap. You can also lift and divide any larger clumps of plants such as Alchemilla mollis that have become too big.
Bare-root deciduous hedging plants should be dug in now while the ground is still warm and a wide selection are available at Coolings.
It is an ideal time to plant new roses, but avoid planting in areas where roses were previously growing to avoid ‘rose sickness’. This occurs when a new rose is bought to replace an old one and is planted in the same soil which may contain a build-up of soil pests, pathogens and fungi that can attack the new rose.
To help protect against black spot, another fungus which infects the leaves and reduces plant vigour remove all leaf and plant debris from your rose and prune any infected canes. This will ensure the fungal spores do not remain in the soil. Keep the rose bush thinned when pruning as this helps good airflow through the rose bush. Mulch well with compost at the base of the plant.
Coolings are proud to stock over 200 varieties of roses, 100 of them David Austin Roses. Coolings Garden Centre at Wych Cross is our specialist rose centre and new stock will be in store from mid November.
FRUIT TREES AND BUSHES
Fruit trees can give structure to your garden depending on the situation as well as a delicious harvest!
When making your selection always check that the one you have chosen is suitable for where you want to plant it and check if it is self-fertile as some varieties need another tree to pollinate such as apples, pears and plums.
We have a wide selection of soft fruit varieties available including blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and many more.
It is a good time to transplant trees and shrubs which have outgrown their space and take hardwood cuttings from shrubs including Forsythia, Vibernum and Spiraea.
Prepare for winter gales by removing any dead, diseased or damaged branches from established trees, check that stakes have not become loose and tree ties are secure. An autumn mulch such as Strulch Organic Straw Mulch will also protect plants from frosts.
Rake fallen leaves from the lawn to ensure they don’t block the light and keep moisture from the grass, make light work of collecting leaves with a pair of handy leaf grabs.
If the weather remains mild it may be necessary to give the lawn another trim. This will help reduce weeds in new lawns sown earlier in the autumn.
Apply an autumn lawn feed such as Miracle-Gro Autumn Lawn Care as this helps keep your lawn green and thick and supports strong root growth. Avoid the temptation to use up any left over summer feed as this contains too much nitrogen which stimulates lush growth and will make it vulnerable to disease.
IN THE GREENHOUSE
Now is the time to give your greenhouse an annual clean to prevent unwanted pests and stop disease thriving. Ventilate when possible to improve air circulation and control humidity. Make sure any heating is working efficiently as it will be required more during the winter to protect tender plants and keep the greenhouse frost free.
Good hygiene is essential to prevent transmitting disease. Clean and sharpen all your tools such as secateurs and shears.
Move any terracotta and stone pots along with any ornaments that are not frost proof into a shed, garage or greenhouse. If they are too large or heavy to move inside protect them with a plant fleece which is an ideal form of insulation. Raising the pots on ‘feet’ helps keep the bottom of the pot from sitting in water and prevents the compost from freezing. Moving pots closer to walls can provide some extra protection and to help make it easier use pot movers! Protect your tender plants by covering them with fleece.
There are a number of ways to help protect and encourage wildlife through the winter. Remove any leaves from your pond and place a net over it to prevent them from falling in. Cut down overgrown plants and grasses growing near the pond as plant debris that falls in will rot and emit poisonous gases which are toxic to fish.
Check carefully before raking and moving piles of leaves and other garden debris as you may disturb hedgehogs or other hibernating wildlife.
Put up new and clean existing nest boxes as many birds use them during autumn and winter for shelter. Keep your bird feeders clean and replenish regularly as birds come to rely on them during the colder months. Birds need fat and protein to help keep them warm and give them strength, Fat cakes, suet balls and seeds are perfect for all types of birds.
Don’t forget your houseplants too. Most need less water during winter, although the air is drier, plants experience a slower rate of growth during the colder months and some go completely dormant. Overwatering can lead to rot so only water once every 2 weeks, 2-3 weeks for succulents and for cacti stop watering altogether.
For winter flowering bulbs such as Hyacinths and ‘Paper white’ daffodils these can be put in a dark place to encourage growth. When they have grown up to 2.5cm bring them into a light, cool room or frost free greenhouse to grow on. When the flower buds appear they are ready to bring into warmer rooms for a wonderful seasonal display.
Plant Amaryllis bulbs this month and keep them in a warm place to ‘force’ indoors ready for flowering in time for Christmas.
The Keep it Local Christmas Craft Fair will be held at Coolings The Gardener’s Garden Centre on the 3rd – 5th December (10am – 4pm). The Farmers Market is at Coolings on every fourth Saturday of the month. You will find stalls selling fresh locally sourced produce including bread, meat, fish, cakes and much more!
A local new cheese stall is now visiting Coolings Wych Cross every Tuesday from 2nd November from 10am – 4pm selling a wide selection of local cheese and other goodies.
See our What’s On page for full details of our upcoming events.