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Don’t let the cold freeze plans for your dream garden this winter.

The rain has come and gone and now it’s time for the big freeze. The animals are hibernating and so is your gardening gusto. However, this is a crucial time in the life of your garden.

It’s time to prepare your garden for some testing conditions and put it to bed, but not for too long. The mild weather during December may have tricked plants into coming out a little early, it’s even tricked many of us into thinking winter wasn’t coming at all. Unfortunately it is, and it’s here. For now it’s time to protect your garden until spring has officially sprung.

Here are a few tips to ensure that when you wake your garden up from its slumber, it wakes looking fresh and as good as possible. 

Frost

Prevention is better than the cure.

There are a number of ways to keep your plants safe during cold weather: 

-   Choose plants that are appropriate for the British climate and more importantly suited to your growing conditions. Carefully select planting positions to avoid ‘frost pockets’.

-   Tender plants should be grown in a warm sunny location. For example against a south-facing wall. This will provide some extra warmth and protection in the winter.

-   Cover delicate plants with a double layer of horticultural fleece when frost is forecast (or you can wrap them in hessian padded with straw if available). If you have an Olive or Lemon Tree - or any other Mediterranean potted foliage, you need to protect them. Wrapping them up will save them from the cold. Think of it the same as you putting an extra layer on when venturing outside into the cold.

-   Mulch the root area of evergreens, conifers, tender shrubs and tender perennials. What do we mean by mulch? Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface area of soil. Its purpose is to conserve moisture and prevent the ground becoming frozen. Usually organic material, such as leaves, bark, or peat moss, it can also be plastic sheeting too.

-   If you have container plants move them to a sheltered part of the garden in cold weather and provide some extra protection by wrapping the pot in bubble wrap, to provide insulation.

-   Protect fruit and particularly strawberries from frost by packing with bracken or straw

-   Avoid applying nitrogen-rich fertilisers in the winter. As they stimulate soft, sappy growth which is particularly vulnerable to frost damage.

-   Plants exposed to early morning sun may thaw too rapidly after a frost, causing damage to flowers and young growth. Camellia and magnolia flowers in particular can be ruined by a single frost. With these it’s all about position. Choose it carefully.

 

With these hints and tips and a well-planned day (or 2) you should be able to organise your garden and protect it from the impending cold snap.

Good luck.

 

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