Putting your garden to bed

It’s that time of year when it’s time to put the garden to bed. Follow these three easy steps and you’ll soon be sitting back next to the fire, flicking through seed catalogues and dreaming of what to plant in the garden next spring.

Step One – protect your tender perennials

Tender perennials like half-hardy salvias, fuchsias and dahlias will need to be protected for the winter.

Some can be dug up, chopped back and kept in a frost-free environment, like a cool glasshouse, until they start growing again, and the frosts have passed, next spring. We find this works really well with our salvia collection, and we get the chance to take cuttings too when we cut them back, which means we have a back-up if any of the larger plants die.

Others, you may wish to leave in situ and protect outdoors with garden fleece or even a cloche. Over the last couple of years, we have experimented with mulching some of our dahlia collection with dried bracken (instead of lifting and drying them) and we have found that this works very well.

Step Two – clearing autumn leaves

Clearing autumn leaves can be an arduous task but it if you keep and compost fallen leaves there will be a big reward in store for you at the end.

Composted leaves – otherwise known as leaf mould – are a really fantastic source of organic matter for the garden. Because it has a low nutrient content it’s perfect for mulching shady woodland borders. Winter flowering plants such as hellebores and snowdrops will really appreciate a good dollop about now.

The best, and most quickly produced, leaf mould is produced if you shred the leaves before adding to a compost heap. We try and suck fallen leaves up with our lawn mower set on a high setting. This is an efficient way to collect the leaves and it shreds them as you go.

Step Three – disinfect greenhouses and wash empty pots

Getting key areas, such as your greenhouse, nice and clean and tidy is essential for ensuring you go into next year with minimal pest and disease problems.

The easiest way to disinfect your greenhouse is to move all of your plants to a sheltered area and then wash all of your glazing and hard surfaces, such as pathways and staging, with a disinfectant or detergent. We find Jeyes fluid outdoor cleaner does the job.

Likewise, empty pots should be cleaned and disinfected. Common plant pests such as root mealy bug can persist on the insides of pots so it’s always best to give them a good clean when you get the chance.

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