Winter is Coming

Some of you may have read last months blog on the Battle of  Hardiness. I listed a few of our favourite plants ranked by their levels of hardiness whilst providing a very brief synopsis of what to do when colder spells strike.

I felt it necessary to emphasize this a little more by writing about winter damage and ways in which we can prevent jack frost from etching his markings on our vulnerable plant pals.

Some of us have already experienced the first signs of frost in our gardens. I know that here in Worcestershire, I was glad to be wearing boots whilst my feet crushed the frost on each blade of grass beneath me.

A very chilly morning!

Frost will make our surroundings shine and gleam as though someone has carefully and meticulously placed tiny crystals one by one, neatly and tightly packed together to produce a perfect wintry scene.

Although frost makes for a picturesque photograph, transforming our environment with dramatic effect, it can also impact our natural world with a sinister twist.

For those of you located in milder areas of the country, you may get away with protecting tender plants with fleece or some other form of protective covering. Just as we need our coats, hats and scarves, plants will also seek comfort in winter clobber. They will keep our plants toasty warm and will prevent detrimental damage - this is particularly important for plants kept in pots and containers.

When is the best time to protect our plants?

In some instances we can plan ahead for winter. When you plant tender varieties, position them in a warm sunny spot, as this will provide you with a better chance when the chill sets in.

Plants should be protected when the first signs of frost appear. Grab your tools and your fleece - its time to protect our gardens!

Frost covered berries

Best Methods:

Lifting: If you have plants situated in exposed areas you may wish to re-position these varieties into an area of the garden that is less open to the elements. Alternatively, tender varieties will benefit from the comfort of a greenhouse or well-ventilated conservatory.

Plants such as Cannas, Dahlias, Fuchsias and Pelargoniums can be lifted from the ground and stored over winter whilst they are in a semi-dormant state. They should be kept in cool conditions, preferably in a greenhouse or conservatory buried beneath layers of sand with just the crown peeping through the surface.

Mulching: Where lifting is not necessary nor feasible, it is crucial that tender and half-hardy plants are protected by a layer of thick, dry mulch. Suitable materials include substances such as straw, compost, bark or well rotted manure. Mulching will keep the surrounding area moist and will prevent the ground from becoming a frozen block.

Wrapping: Again, when moving plants is not a feasible option the next best thing is to wrap your plants in a protective wrap such as fleecing. This will also protect plants against excessive wet weather. It is also recommended to check hardy plants in exposed areas as they may also become vulnerable in the winter.

Wrappings should be implemented at the first signs of frost and should be made from materials such as fleece, hessian and polystyrene as this will best protect your plants from both the cold and the wind. When and if a mild spell hits, take note to remove fleecing for an extended period to prevent sweating and rotting. To us, it would probably feel like being locked in a fully heated room wearing all our winter wear! (Not pleasant!).

This picture features a tree in a beautiful winter setting. The single snow covered tree stands in the middle of a wide and open snow covered field. In the background behind some fog a little forest and trees are visible.

Before intense frost and even snow hits, we need to make sure we are fully prepared for the worst so we can enjoy an abundant and healthy garden for the following season. Do not let your plants decline because you have not taken precaution. Save yourself the disappointment!!

If you haven't protected your plants already, please do so before it is too late!


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