It has taken a few weeks for me to realise winter is actually on our doorstep. I have been so engrossed with autumn that I was ignoring the fact the temperature had dropped rapidly, and weather warnings concerning frosts and snow were coming more regularly (more in the north luckily). So I’ve finally got my act into gear and am out in the garden clearing, sorting (and crying about winter approaching). I’ve had such a great year in the garden so I’m finding it hard to let go of the season and deal with the fact I’ll be spending more time indoors by the radiator than outdoors digging, planting and harvesting.
My first priority is to prepare my more delicate plants for the over night frosts. As the frosts start approaching it is key to have your younger and less hardy plants protected. I’ve got several plants in pots that I’ve bought this year and haven’t fully established themselves as it’s only the first year for them. The plants I’m focussing on are my Raspberry ‘Ruby Beauty ‘ (another one from last year too), Alstroemeria, Fuchsia ‘FuchsiaBerry’, Acer and Sambucus ‘Black Tower’.
I find the easiest way is to buy some horticultural fleecing and wrap this around the base of the pot. The most important part of the plant are the roots, so there’s less concern about protecting the top of the plant and more concern about protecting the base.
Work your way around, doubling up if needed, and secure once all the way around. I’m not an expert by any means, so have just used safety pins to keep together and wrapped it around twice to ensure the cold can’t get in. The third picture shows that I’ve wrapped the top of the plant, you just need to ensure the base of the stem is protected, but I’ve done it like this for ease.
After struggling with my Acer ‘Starfish’ earlier in the year it’s now performing brilliantly. I started using liquid seaweed fertilliser and it’s worked a dream. The leaves have mostly fallen off (as it’s meant to this time of year – no need for panic) and new buds have formed. I cannot tell you how excited I am for next year to see the growth of this beauty. So I was very keen to wrap and secure this plant for the winter. Due to the pot and plant size, this was far easier to just cover the base of the stem, and the pot.
Whilst clearing up the patio area I came across my Fuchsia FuchsiaBerry that I planted straight in the ground (I’ve got 3 in pots as well). They have only been in the ground since June but have taken really well. They were late to produce the berries, but the weather has been funny this year for plants, but now there’s a handful ripened and ready to pick. So I took a few minutes out to try them. Such a bizzare taste – but quite nice! I’m going to leave it until next year when there’s tons more (hopefully), and harvest them to make some Fuchsia Berry jam.
These Fuchsias are only half-hardy which means they won’t tolerate temperatures in the minus (maybe a few degrees under, but I don’t want to risk it). Therefore I’ve used some straw mulch to protect the base and roots of the plant. As with my potted plants, I’ve got several young plants that I’ve established well enough to go into my beds, but aren’t yet hardy enough for the frosts. I’ve also had experiences from last year of losing plants and am being extra careful and cautious this year.
I’ve done my homework and know that straw is a good mulch to use as it provides good insulation due to fact it’s hollow. You can also use bark or a leaves mulch. I wanted to use bark for asethetic reasons, but when popping into The Range the straw was just sat there waiting for me to buy. So maybe the bark will be used next year! Even though I’ve said I’ve been late on the prep-front, this time of year is probably the best to add your straw mulch, as any warmer and you might get some cheeky animals starting to nest in it.
My Hosta, Hydrangea, Euphorbia and Foxgloves are all receiving my winter treatment and I’ve added a decent layer of the mulch to the base of each one. I’ve read around and roughly 12-16inches of mulch is ideal to that to ensure full protection.
So that’s my prep for this year all done. How do you protect your plants? Any tips – please drop me and comment