We know, we know, we hate to say it, but (and without sounding like a Game of Thrones cliché), winter is coming. And, much like Christmas shopping and bringing the heavier tog duvet out of hibernation are part of the winter preparations, so too is the act of preparing your flower borders for the colder months.
If you act now before the autumn arrives, you’ll be in the best position to keep those beds thriving throughout the next few months and into spring next year. Here’s some ways to prepare your beds for winter and the 2022 season.
Weed ahead of winter
It’s one of the more arduous tasks, but come spring you’ll be thankful you tackled the weeds ahead of winter. If bindweed is being a pest then you’ll want to get rid of it as soon as possible to avoid it strangling your other plants - but this can take a bit of time, so make sure you’ve boiled the kettle and got a good playlist to keep you motivated.
The best way to approach removing the bindweed is to untangle it until you get to the ground, then chase the roots through the soil. Avoid breaking them so they don’t just grow again! If you’ve got raised beds that are carpeted with weeds, lay down tarpaulin to kill them off over winter.
Choose winter bedding plants
It might sound obvious, but to keep your beds looking vibrant in winter, you’ll want to select plants that are naturally acclimatised to the cooler weather. Bear in mind that during the winter, growth is slow, so make sure you give your beds a head start by using plants that are already fairly established. Hardy flowers worth planting include winter-flowering pansies, cyclamen and primula. These will mostly flower in the spring, but you may get flowering during the winter too if the weather is mild.
Another way to keep those beds looking lively even on the bleakest of days is to invest in some evergreen shrubs and plant these up now. Foliage is also another good option for keeping the garden looking green - try ornamental cabbage which looks lovely in winter and will survive moderate frosts, too.
Adding compost to your beds now will ensure the soil is full of nutrients and ready to help those flowers flourish come spring. For raised beds, consider something containing loam, which will help maintain a good volume of material in your plant bed, as well as encouraging good plant growth.
Mulch and maintain
Adding mulch to your soil can be a great way to protect your plants from frost, keep weeds at bay and ensure your beds are kept healthy over the winter months. Autumn is a good time to add mulch around newly planted shrubs and herbaceous perennials, and then come winter you’ll want to mulch the entire bed to trap in moisture.