As a horticulturist I am always looking forward to the next season, winter. I find it incredulous that many people think we slow down as we hit the darkest and coldest of seasons. Nothing could be further from the truth. A wise old gardener once said to me, ‘Rest on yer laurels fer winter, brings yer misery and no gain in the spring’. This I have often seen in neglected winter gardens.
One job that is a constant, is leaf clearing. Oh, for someone to breed a tree that dropped all of its leaves on one day! Uncleared leaves on lawns, will result in a boggy mess come spring, and on a driveway will encourage weed growth as they break down. Other leaves in borders can harbour pests and diseases, until such time they decompose. Want nice Garden in spring? Clear your leaves.
Putting the garden to bed. Take care of your perennials as they fade into senescence. Cut back the leaves. Hollow stems can be left to encourage beneficial insects to over winter, and indeed some flower heads such as Sedums can provide stunning architectural structure to a frosted winter garden. Irrigation should be drained off and timers placed indoors to protect from frost damage. Re-Mulch the borders. We use a very fine composted bark for this; it protects the crowns of plants, insulates the ground somewhat, adds nutrients to the soil, improves soil structure, and hinders annual weeds. Want a nice garden in the spring? Put your garden to bed.