As The Frost Descends: Early Winter In The Garden

20 Dec 2023

As The Frost Descends: Early Winter In The Garden

December marks nature's gradual conclusion. And although that spells a moment of stillness and quiet in the greenhouse, I find something about the way in which everything comes full-circle rather lovely and reassuring. Many of my plants will need overwintering and, having tended them through the seasons that preceded, it always feels like the final act of love before they re-emerge from their seasonal sleep. I am busy protecting my delicate potted plants – the lemon verbena, geraniums and my chilli, the last of which is still very much flowering – and all of them are now safely tucked up and shielded from the cold. Thankfully, my cobaea vine is doing a great job of raising smiles and spirits through the winter lull as it valiantly goes on providing gorgeous purple foliage, which is currently clinging prettily to the greenhouse walls and ceiling.

Dahlias are always such dazzling heralders of the changing seasons as late summer slips into autumn. Now, though, mine have blazed their last and have finally been cut back. The sorrow of bidding farewell to their cheerful blooms is eased considerably, however, by the fact that their loss paves the way for the chrysanthemums to have their moment to shine. This year, I have planted a variety of colours in clashing pinks, peaches and deep reds with the hope of being able to fill the house with them in time for the arrival of our Christmas guests. Here’s hoping they last that long!
Devoted followers of my cottage garden will know that our bank of roses has been really stellar this year, stalwartly producing abundant crops of heavenly scented flowers ever since spring. Diligent deadheading seems to have really made the difference – so much so that, even now, we are still harvesting the most delicate bounty of creamy pink roses which are a sheer delight dotted around the house tumbling out of jugs and vases. They have brought such joy outside and in that it has spurred me on to action: I have just given the roots a really good covering of mulch in the hope that we can repeat the success next year.
As the garden returns to its bare bones and the winter slumber begins, the view may look austere, but the ideas gadding around my head are as busy as ever. Now is a good moment to consider the structure and support needed for next year's growing season. My obelisks are still standing proud and strong, but all the dampness we’ve had has meant that a number of my birch supports have rotted so will need to be replaced before the spring reawakening. For now, though, I am going to attempt to quieten the to-do list in my head and enjoy the dormant and less demanding months that the winter garden bring.

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