As perennials die down, many will leave a woody superstructure above ground. The old and rather woody spikes of Sedum spectabile make a wonderful spectacle on a frosty morning. More importantly, the old stems act as a marker, so that in the spring, when the weeds quickly appear, you can locate your plants. Being easily able to find your perennials also makes the job of lifting and splitting much easier, another job which can be got out of the way. Busy gardeners have enough to do in the spring.
The first half of this year was fairly wet and resulted in more growth than is usual. This might be a benefit to those that want a fast hedge, but the additional growth can result in crowding out other precious plants and casting shade where there was none before. Only winter prune those trees and shrubs that are hardy. Frost can enter the cut ends of more tender plants and cause them to die back. Before January is over, we will have pruned all our late flowering shrubs and especially the vines which bleed profusely if the job is delayed into the spring and the sap has started to rise. Similarly, the birch by the car park is due for some work. Removal of some of the lower branches will reveal more white trunk while still providing a good measure of shade for those that sit on the seat.
A cold blast is coming down the north sea. Move tender plants to the warmest site you have. Do not smother them in polythene; the ensuing humidity will create conditions for fungi to rot them. Horticultural fleece is a very useful material for wrapping plants up. Our banana stays put in the winter wrapped in a fleecy coat. It’s 15ft tall.
If you have planted bulbs in containers, be patient and leave them as cold and just frost free as possible for 6 – 8 weeks before bringing them in. The roots will develop in this time.