P G (Paula’s Gardening) Tips – Number 2
A natural blanket to protect your garden in winter
It’s autumn, and the garden is starting to go to sleep for the winter. Try to resist the urge to tidy too much – only do what you have to.
I tend to do bits here and there as the winter progresses, as and when things start to look too messy. But remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and although your neighbours may have cut and trimmed and cleared all the greenery they can find, you can be brave and take the more natural approach…
Keep raking leaves up from the lawn as they can do so much damage – just a few days covered up, and thus getting no light, can harm the grass. Just think of the damage your paddling pool or tent does! However, in the borders, and around shrubs, it is really good to let the leaves rot down naturally. Soil is a valuable resource and if we keep removing green matter continually, without replenishing it with goodness, then it degrades and your plants will not be so healthy. So leaves or green waste from tidying up the garden, branches, twigs, etc will all slowly rot down and provide shelter for plants and animals, help to renew the soil, and act as a mulch. You don’t want to scatter your ‘weeds’ in the border, obviously, but you can be selective and find suitable places to let some of your green waste compost naturally. Basically, it’s going to get cold, and this is a natural blanket to protect the garden, and everything that lives in your garden.
I like to leave my rambling and climbing roses to form rosehips – the waxwings dropped one year to feast on them! And don’t be too hasty pruning roses before winter. I prefer to do all mine in late spring, when the hard frosts have passed, and they are starting to grow again. If you cut them back hard now then they are stripped bare for the winter, and they may not be robust enough to take the harsh weather… there’s no problem with removing dead branches, but leave the major rose pruning till spring.
Plant spring bulbs now, while the soil is still soft and warm – you can never have enough daffodils and tulips etc to cheer you up in March/April. Plant them pointed end up, in groups of five or more, so you get natural looking clumps.
Finally – keep feeding the birds. Winter is coming and they need all the food they can get.