Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Winter's Toil; TACKLING A FEW CHOICE JOBS NOW BEFORE FROST HARDENS THE SOIL WILL LAY THE GROUND FOR AN EASIER START NEXT YEAR

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Winter's Toil; TACKLING A FEW CHOICE JOBS NOW BEFORE FROST HARDENS THE SOIL WILL LAY THE GROUND FOR AN EASIER START NEXT YEAR

Article excerpt

Byline: YOUR GARDEN With David Domoney

WITH winter starting to nip at our toes, it's time to begin getting ready for the colder weather to come.

Giving your beds and borders the once over now, before the first frost hits, can save a load of trouble come spring.

Many leave their gardens and forget them during the winter. But it's a nice touch to try and keep a little structure and colour going.

The sight of a few bright flowers popping up can really cheer your spirits on a chilly winter morning.

So, to help you prepare your borders for winter and still keep some structure in, I've outlined the key jobs for you to work on while the weather is still mild enough.

LIFTING PERENNIALS YOUR more tender plants - such as cannas, dahlias and fuchsias - will need lifting out and moving indoors, or into a cool frost-free place such as a shed or greenhouse.

First, cut the stems back to 5-10cm from their base. Then, dig up the plant using a fork and remove as much soil as possible from the roots.

Store them in just-moist potting compost in trays or pots, and place out of direct sunlight. Keep them ventilated and check often for rotting and mould. Some larger plants such as sedum and alstroemeria may also need lifting so they can be divided.

Generally with vigorous perennials, this is necessary every couple of years to prevent the plant from overcrowding its space.

Dig them up and shake off excess soil, then pull the plant apart carefully using your hands or, for larger plants, two garden forks. Replant and water in well.

Perennials that can overwinter out of doors may just need cutting down to ground level as they die down.

Stems, dead leaves and seed heads can all be removed (and the seeds collected if required).

You might want to leave a few seed heads in place to create decorative structure, as they can look particularly striking with a dusting of frost. Don't forget, a few dead stems are also beneficial for hibernating insects such as ladybirds and solitary bees.

MULCHING is the ideal way to insulate your borders over winter and help protect plants from frost damage. …

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