Rug up, get out there, no excuses!

Even if the plants don’t need too much watering, the bird baths regularly need filling in our dry winter climate. So my plan of action is, rug up, get out there, no excuses! There are plenty of sweet sights and surprises to be found, even in the coldest months of the year, and I’ve included some pictures of these, as I found them last Sunday morning.

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Having my garden in good shape come the end of winter is the best way to prepare for the explosion that happens as spring approaches. Winter hours spent in my garden are an investment in health as well.

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Here’s what I’ll be doing over the next few weekends.

Weeding
Autumn rains and unseasonal warmth have left a healthy crop of weeds. Ridding the garden of weeds over winter makes it easier to keep up with the spring onslaught, meaning more time to enjoy the beauty of spring guilt-free!

Self-sown annuals, like this calendula, come up by themselves to brighten my winter garden, year after year, and help keep the weeds at bay.

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Maintenance
All the experts suggest using the winter time to service, clean and sharpen the tools more frequently used during spring and summer. I’ll be cleaning and sharpening my secateurs ready for rose pruning. If you’re handy, you could even make a cool gate like this one I stumbled across online…

Another tip- which I learned the hard (and expensive) way- water timers and some sprinklers don’t cope with frost so disconnect them and bring them indoors.

Pruning

Winter is rose pruning time. If you don’t know when or how to prune roses, check out your local parks and gardens and see what the professional gardeners are doing in your area.

With a few important exceptions (see below), winter is the best time to reshape trees, particularly deciduous trees that have shed their leaves during autumn. With no leaves, you get a clear view of the branch structure and there’s less clean-up required as well.

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Pruning in the winter allows time for the wound to harden over and promote even more growth in the spring.

I suggest reading up on the particular plant you’re thinking of pruning, to make sure winter is the right time. Incorrectly timed pruning can deprive you of flowers for the next season.

Protect from frost

For some frost-tender plants, the old, dead foliage and stems are worth keeping as they provide an extra degree or two of protection for the tender new buds and shoots coming along for next year.

If you can hold off, don’t prune these frost-tender plants until after last frost:

Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage) and other tender sages
Lemons and other citrus
Brugmansia/ Datura (Angel’s Trumpet)
Loropetalum chinense (Fringe Flower)
Passiflora (Passionflower Vines)
Pelargoniums (traditional Geraniums)

I’m resisting the urge to cut back my velour sage which has become quite straggly, because the old summer stems and flowers are protecting the fresh new shoots coming up.

Having lost some cherished plants to exceptionally hard frosts last year, this year I’ll be protecting the more tender plants by applying a seaweed solution periodically throughout winter to both the soil and foliage.

Some Mudgee residents have gone to great lengths to protect special plants from the frost. I’m particularly impressed with this construction.

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I’ll be covering some individual plants, such as my Cymbidium orchids currently in full bud, with frost cloth at night. My style is less elegant than the example above, but it does the job. I’ve tied small pebbles into the corners of the frost cloth to keep it from blowing away.

My secret to winter gardening is to keep snug and warm and dry, not to stay outdoors for too long, and to congratulate myself for making the effort. Come the first of September, if I keep this up, I’ll be feeling very pleased with myself!

What do you do in your winter garden?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Pruning is what is neglected most in winter. It may be different in your culture, but no one here wants to prune roses and deciduous fruit trees aggressively enough. That is the main reason such roses and trees are so disfigured and unhealthy. The climate here is excellent for both, but both need pruning!

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Thanks Tony! Once I hired someone to prune my roses and they did an extremely hard prune- all went very well, but I’ve never been game to do it like that myself.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        Not many of us are, especially in mild climates where we want things to grow all year, and as much as they want to.

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    I am beginning the quite long task of pruning and tidying. I will cut most of my garden back over the next few weeks and mulch the prunings in Gargantua, our heavy duty mulcher. The resulting mulch will go back on the garden and over some of the more frost prone plants.
    I also spotted that very impressive hedge cover!

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Sounds good Jane, you’ll be getting plenty of fresh air and exercise! Gargantua sounds perfect!

  3. crabandfish says:

    I love your frost cloth tunnel – great idea. Keep them warm.

    1. My Dream Garden says:

      Haha, thanks but I’m afraid I can’t take the credit for that tunnel- it’s the creation of another Mudgee gardener.

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