Preparing Your Flower Garden for Winter
October in the Flower Garden – Preparing for Winter
A very busy time begins in the garden as the summer and autumn flowers fade. Although much depends upon the weather, the time is approaching quickly when we must put everything in order for the winter. In my part of the country, Halloween, at the end of the month, usually is heralded in with snow and cold temperatures.
The whole flower garden should be dug over, but it is most important not to injure the hardy plants that will remain. Where there are a lot of these, it is safer to dig with a fork than a spade. A spade is much more likely to cut roots through if it comes across them. This, of course, presupposes you already have a flower bed with easily worked soil. Annual plants may all be pulled up and carted away to the compost bin as they cease to flower.
Remember that many of our hardy perennial plants die down for the winter. Their leaves and stems wither and die. But we must not conclude that the plant is dead just cause the tops die. The roots are very much alive and in the spring beautiful fresh young growth will peep through the soil. This is just a caution for the newbie gardener.
Nature has all sorts of methods to enable her hardy plants to pass the winter safely. Some, like the hardy perennials, are simply going to sleep, in a manner of speaking. Some, like the bulbous plants – the snowdrops, and winter aconites, and others – are waking up, for these sleep during the hot summer months. Some plants remain fresh and green winter and summer alike, like the sweet-william, the beautiful little dwarf gentian, and the pinks and carnations.
Just as we should have made everything neat and trim for the summer, so during the next few weeks everything should be made neat and tidy for the winter. All dead leaves, stems, etc., should be cleared away, and stakes taken up and stored except where plants still need them.
If our gardens were only made and planted in the spring, our hardy plants will not need dividing. But if they have been around two or three seasons then probably some of them will be better divided. We divide clumps that have grown to a large size because if they throw up too many flowering stems, they will not be well nourished or produce a fine blossom and towards the center the plant will grow poorly.
We should remember that it is good for the future welfare of a plant to replant it in a different spot from where it has been. If we do not need all the pieces we can make of a divided plant, we should replant the strong or outer portions.