Going From Winter To Spring – Getting Your Garden Ready

It’s winter, but there’s plenty to enjoy in the garden. Canny gardeners tend to stock up on bare root plants at this time of the year: they are often significantly cheaper than pot-grown plants. Take a tip out of their book and see if there are any spaces in your borders that could be filled. Once they arrive, plant as soon as possible.

We’re looking forward to taking delivery of a magnificent 15ft Christmas tree that will be placed in the car park, ready to greet visitors for the festive season and for the big day.

It will be business as usual, though, inside the Gardens as we have a great deal of work to do to keep the thousands of plants we look after in tip-top condition.

One of the major tasks is to cut down the dahlias now that they have been frosted. We remove the tubers and overwinter them in the nursery so that they can be planted again next year for an autumn display. Like all good gardeners, we like to ensure we can reuse as much as possible – it’s more economical, much more satisfying and environmentally friendly.

We’ll also be planting the new Alan King Alpine Garden over the winter months, focusing on the two Alpine Houses first. The Alpine House is still closed to the public, but keep an eye out for news about when it will open and for the grand unveiling.

Use the next couple of months to do some tidying to ensure your borders and pots are protected for the coldest months of the year. We get rain all year round, obviously, but as the temperatures are colder in the winter, raise your pots with bricks or pot feet to minimise the potential for waterlogging. Use bubble wrap to insulate pots that cannot be moved into greenhouses.

Here are some other tasks you should be getting on with during the winter and into the early spring weeks:

• Make sure you top up the bird feeders and bird bath – our feathered friends need our help in the depths of winter.

• Make sure leaves are raked up off the lawn so they don’t kill the grass.

• In January, start to force rhubarb – just think of the amazing crumble you can make!

• Tidy up the old stems on perennials, but be careful not to disturb new growth.

• Deadhead winter pansies to stop them setting seed.

• Cut back the old foliage from ornamental grasses to about a few centimetres from the ground.

• In February, we’re turning a corner – signs of spring will be here so start weeding the borders and prepare your seed beds, if the ground isn’t frozen, of course.

• Trim winter-flowering shrubs and heathers.

• Sharpen and clean any gardening tools and give the mower a bit of TLC so it is ready for action in the spring.

• Scrub clean any pots – come spring, you’ll be glad you bothered!

For more tips, follow Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Twitter @ BhamBotanicalGd or visit www.birminghambotanicalgardens.org.uk

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