New Year Garden Tidy Up

This is a garden job that people have varied timing preference for. Some like to do it as soon as the plants die down in autumn, cutting back and clearing everything away for winter. Others like to wait until after winter so they can enjoy frost on the seeds heads and give the plants crowns a bit more protections with leaf debris against the cold. I fall into the later camp, letting the garden sleep under the blanket of debris, letting seeds fall to hopefully germinate in spring and to enjoy the silhouettes of seed heads in frost.

This photo, taken in my last garden illustrates perfectly the before and after of the post winter tidy up

I always enjoy this job as I find it immensely satisfying to turn weedy, messy borders in to neat tidy borders, refreshed and ready for spring flower beds. Then you can easily see the plants emerging after their winter sleep and bulbs beginning to flower. Again as with timing everyone has their own way of doing this task, mine is by no means the only way, but the way I like to work.

Firstly I cut back all the dead stems, leaves etc from the plants, gathering it all up into my big recycled tyre bucket and ultimately into the compost bin. Most of the plant material goes in the compost heap unless it is very woody, then it goes on the bonfire. Above and below you can see before and after both at home and at the nursery. I also use tidying up as an opportunity to check on which plants are struggling or maybe not survived. Then I can make a decision whether to replace them or plant something new.

It's all good exercise after hibernating over winter! Once all the debris is cleared off the border I fork over the ground, removing any weeds and loosening the compacted soil. If the border has a lawn edge, I re-edge it with a half-moon edging knife and shears. You can see I have done this in the first photo above. I then scatter fertiliser over the borders, this is useful not only to boost the plants but also if the soil is poor to enrich it. Again everyone has their favourite; for years I have been using pelleted chicken manure, it comes in big buckets which last well, is easy to scatter and personally I think it really does give the plants a boost.

The entrance to the wildlife garden, the native hedgerow bed
with it's new edging and mulch

 Finally I cover the border in home made compost from our compost heaps. This mulch seals in moisture, feeds the plants and nourishes and improves poorer soils. Over the year worms and me hoeing the beds will work the compost in and over time the soil does improve. I did this for the fifteen years I was at my last garden and by the time I left the very poor clay soil in the borders was becoming a lovely workable soil.

Time and patience as in all things gardening.

You can read a previous garden tidy up blog here Easter Mosshat January 2014

At home at the moment a lot of plants are in pots and containers until we find a house to buy and these also get the same treatment, cut back, fed and top dressed. It prolongs their stressful life in pots until I can get their roots in a new garden.

Tidying the temporary trough gardens

The track up to the nursery before

and after, you can see why it is so satisfying

So that's it really, nothing too difficult just hard work, but good to stretch those muscles after winter. Then it's time to get on with planning new plantings, sowing seeds, moving plants that have got too big, don't get on with their neighbours or need a new home.

The temperatures are forecast to start rising this week so maybe spring is finally sprung, let's hope so. We have lots of lovely plants coming on and a variety of spring  flowering bulbs in pots for sale, ready to brighten up pots and borders in your garden. We are open 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday. Check out our website or facebook for lots more information.

Have a great week ad I'll leave you with some more tidied garden photos.

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  1. Just tidied up my small patch here, unfortunately tis not on your grand scale and I find myself feeling a tad jealous seeing your space ;-)

  2. Hi John, ahhh remember with much space comes an awful lot of work :) but it's interesting to see it develop over time, lots of plans for new borders! :)


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