Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Wrapping up the Garden for Winter

It's that time of year already, when we have to think about wrapping up, moving in and protecting the more tender, special and exotic plants that we insist on growing. Up here at Easter Mosshat, on our exposed windy hill I like to get this done in mid October at the latest. Its not unusual to get snow flurries early October but it's the nippy frosts that will do the most damage.

The big heated greenhouse bubble wrapped and packed with all my tender plants for winter 

My first job is to clear out both greenhouses and get the bubble wrap up. This does make a difference to heated and unheated houses so is worth the investment and time. I have been using the same bubble wrap on my two greenhouses for 19 years, so I think that's a sound investment! It gets carefully stored away in sacks in the potting shed over the summer. Once the bubble wrap is up, I then move my Pelargonium collection from the small cold greenhouse into the larger heated one for winter. Now that I have over forty this takes up a good bit of the large house! In between them are all the tender plants that have been outside for summer on the patios and decking and dotted around the garden. I take the wheelbarrow and walk around the gardens, loading up as I go with pots, ornaments and the tender plants that all need winter protection. Plants that will take the cold but still appreciate being undercover or are in pots that need to be out of the wet freezing conditions go in the smaller unheated greenhouse.

Although the garden doesn't look this tidy at this time of year,
you can see the Agapanthus covered with its bamboo cloche

Once the greenhouses are tided, bubble wrapped and filled with the tenders that have been cut back, cleaned up and watered its time to wrap the plants that can't be moved indoors. There are very few of these now in the gardens at Easter Mosshat since the very bad winters of 2009 and 2010. I lost so many plants outside and even in the greenhouses, it was heart breaking and expensive! I have been growing Agapanthus outdoors for many years. Given the exposure of the garden this should be tricky, but if wrapped over winter and as their roots are protected by the surrounding soil they do okay, even flowering if we get a longer summer. In fact as I write they are still blooming, despite last week's frost. To wrap herbaceous plants and bulbs such as Agapanthus I use horticultural fleece and bamboo cloches. Cut off the old stems and leaves, and pack the fleece over and around the crown of the plant. (You can also use straw or hay if you have it). Next place the cloche over the packing material and pin in place using canes.

The alpine troughs covered with their cloches, you can see how exposed they are in this part of the garden.

Last are the cloches that go over the alpine troughs on the patio. Because they have lots of special little alpines that might be damaged in the damp and frost I cover them for winter, keeping them not necessarily warm, but dry. I have made these cloches out of sheets or corrugated plastic. the length and width of the troughs, hinged at the apex with duct tape. They are then tied on with rope so they don't blow away (yes I have had to jump the fence and retrieve them from the neighbouring field!).

With everything ready hopefully the garden will survive our harsh upland winter and emerge in the spring as gorgeous as ever.

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