While the winter months are now upon us, and the weather and shortening days dictate how much time we can spend outside, those with a garden could still manage to get a few last minute jobs done as Reeds Rains latest garden blog explains.
Dahlias catch the first frosts in November, their foliage and stems blackening in the cold. At this stage the plants aren’t dead despite their appearance but they need to be lifted so their underground tubers can be stored for the winter. This is done by cutting back the stems to just above ground level then lifting the whole plant from the ground with a garden fork, taking care not to pierce the tuber. Remove as much soil as possible then leave the tuber to dry in a cool place for a few days before removing any remaining earth. It then needs to be stored in a shallow tray of dry sand or compost somewhere frost free and dry. In February this wizened specimen can be put into a plant pot filled with fresh compost, watered and brought into a cool, light room to start growing once again.
November is a good time to get tulip bulbs planted – any earlier and they run the risk of the emerging shoots being damaged by frost. Choose a dry, frost free day when the soil is easy to dig and bury them at a depth three times the height of the bulb. If the soil tends to get very moist in winter it is a good idea to sit each bulb on a layer of grit to lessen the possibility of it rotting. Tulips like a sunny spot and are traditionally used quite formally in late spring beds. However they will also grow successfully in partial shade in loose clumps amongst euphorbias, forget-me-nots and bluebells.