Winter’s coming

The title of this post should be read in a Keith Richards voice – as J always says it that way, in homage to the closing scenes of The Simpsons’ episode How I Spent My Strummer Vacation (you all remember that one, right?).

Anyway, it’s the time of year when I start thinking about how to keep the garden looking populated and interesting over the winter, and getting bulbs in for spring, as well as taking cuttings of those plants which I would hate to lose but might well, if it’s as cold this winter as it was last. So on Sunday we pulled up most of this year’s annuals – the rudbeckia, coreopsis and marigolds – as a result of which the garden looks a lot less yellow. The rudbeckia have come close to smothering some other plants so I have reservations about having any next year. We’ll see. Maybe I should just be more organised about tying them up. I’ve left the begonias and some of the dianthus , as they are still looking reasonable and I hate to pull plants up for the sake of it.

I also emptied the hanging baskets, which were looking very sorry for themselves. They have been replanted with cyclamen and winter pansies. More cyclamen and pansies have gone in the flower beds – we found some trays of reduced plants on our last visit to the garden centre. A £7 tray of cyclamen for £2? Thank you, I’ll take four. So along with the scabious, lavender and a couple of hebes which are still flowering, we have some splashes of colour here and there.

We bought a large net bag of narcissus bulbs (assorted), some large crocus, dwarf crocus, dwarf tulips and English bluebells. Some narcissus, the dwarf crocus and the tulips have gone in the flower beds and all the rest will go in the bank at the end of the garden, under the trees where I hope they will naturalise and spread. In Jan or Feb I will look out for snowdrops in the green – I have never had any luck trying to grow them from bulbs, but although buying them in the green is more expensive it’s worth it if they actually survive and thrive.

I have yet to take any cuttings – that will be a job for this weekend. Mainly from two plants – the artemisia and the hardy wallflower – though I may try for some from the scabious too. I have mixed results with cuttings, but the artemisia has done so well this year that if it succumbs to cold I’ll kick myself if I didn’t at least try.

In readiness for the first frost, which is forecast for tonight, we have lifted our fuschia and brought it into the house, and dressed the cordyline in a lovely fleece jacket to keep it warm and dry. There isn’t much more we can do for them except hope that we don’t get a repeat of last winter.

I’ll try and take some photos of the garden in its winter state soon. Happy gardening.

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