As summer starts to feel like a distant memory, a few of us have already been caught out by the odd early frost. There are a few things that you can do this month to tuck your garden up, safe and warm, for winter.
1. Rake selectively
The temptation is to have a purge on fallen leaves and clear them all from your garden. However, in the right place, leaves are an important part of your garden’s cycle. Leaving leaves on your lawn will kill the grass underneath, so rake your grass regularly to prevent rotting leaves. However, in bedding and pots, leaves have their benefits; they are fantastic fodder for earthworms and other garden dwellers. Provided that fallen leaves haven’t gathered in deep drifts and that they are not smothering smaller plants, you can leave leaves in beds and borders; they will feed your soil and hide a multitude of sins beneath!
2. Making cutbacks
Now is the time to cut back your perennials, such as geraniums, once they have died down. However, if you can bear to tolerate your perennials through the dying back process, you will be left with fantastic-looking skeletons, which can be left until early spring.
Now is the time to think ahead. Plant tulip bulbs now and reap the rewards next spring. For a splash of winter colour, fill containers with winter bedding plants such as violas, primroses and cyclamen.
4. All tucked up
If you don’t have a host of leaves to take advantage of, weed and mulch your borders. If you have a mature compost heap, empty it and use it to insulate delicate plants and stems. This blanket of rich mulch or compost will protect the ground from frost and help your garden to come back richer and lusher next season.
5. In the flower garden
Prune tall hybrid tea roses to remove old flower stems and dead or diseased wood. You don’t want to prune standard roses until the spring, but it is a good idea to reduce top growth to protect the rose from wind.
A little bit of time and maintenance over the cooler months will go a long way to making sure that your garden will flourish again come springtime. However, if you don’t have the time, skills or resources to manage the upkeep of your garden all year around, why not contact a local gardener? They can come weekly, fortnightly or even monthly to help you to keep on top of your garden chores.