Putting the Garden to Bed
Now the clocks have gone back, my attention has turned to putting my garden to bed for the winter. However, I don’t do a thorough tidy up because many of the leaves and stems provide food and shelter for the wildlife visiting my garden as well as providing visual interest. The plants sporting seed heads and berries will remain in place until they end up looking ragged around February next year.
Wherever possible, the leaves are swept up from my paths and patio and added to the borders. This makes for instant mulch and is a much easier way of dealing with the leaves falling from the woodland next to my garden. However, a portion is added to my leaf mould pile too – especially those gathered from my lawn – so I have a supply for making up my potting compost in a year or two’s time. I have a simple leaf mould bin in a hidden corner of my lower patio, but failing that gathering them into pierced dustbin bags and tying up their tops also does the job.
Not all of the plant stems get left for the birds. The ones from my dahlias get cut down as soon as the frost turns them mushy. To leave these would mean the tubers rot. I’m happy to leave the latter in the ground as they’re in a sheltered spot and I live in the south, but I make sure they’re covered with a 4 inch layer of mulch to ensure their survival. The mulch is made from the dahlia stems (a form of cannibalism perhaps?), plus quite a few silver birch fronds the recent winds brought down into the garden.
Elsewhere, some of my garden features need putting away for the winter. The longer nights mean my solar lights are rather feeble now, so I’ve brought them indoors and they’re in the airing cupboard getting a thorough drying. This helps to keep their storage batteries going for a few seasons more and once they’re dry, off they go into my shed to join the gathered garden ornaments which aren’t frost proof.
As well as putting things away, it’s time to get out the protective covers for my wooden benches. Luckily the weather has been dry the past couple of days, so the benches are dry too. It’s just a matter of putting garden furniture covers over them and pulling the draw cords at the bottom a bit tighter, so the winter winds don’t pull them off again. No doubt our neighbour’s cat will creep in to shelter under there as usual on rainy days.
The severe cold last winter killed off the few tender plants I had in the garden, apart from the dahlias. I haven’t replaced them yet, so there’s no need for frost protection. It’s quite nice to have one less job to do this year!