We are heading towards the time of the year for Jack Frost to make an appearance in our autumn gardens, a chilly shock awaits our plants after basking in late summer sunshine. Jack Frost originates from Viking folklore; he leaves crystal frost formations and patterns on our windows, changes the colour of autumn foliage and nips our noses once we step outside into the cold and crisp air.
From the warmth of our homes and conservatories while we gaze out into the garden, we thought about the plants and what, if anything, we could do to protect and keep them warm during the winter period.
We asked gardening expert and TV presenter David Domoney for some advice and tips on over wintering plants. David, who designed the Anglian award winning Naked Garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2011 and also the Grapevine Theatre in 2012.
“First and last frosts of the season vary depending on your location within the UK so be sure to tune into the weather. To put things into perspective, places like the bottom of valleys are the coldest areas due to cool air sinking. The experienced gardener will always err on the side of caution, especially when planting vulnerable and tender plants.
Take the time to keep a record of the borders likely to get frosted in your garden, as well as those which remain frost free even on very cold nights. By doing this you gain a better understanding of the micro climate in your garden.
Summer bedding and patio plants are considered tender plants which cannot cope with freezing temperatures. Tender plants must not be planted outside until after the LAST frost. In order to protect vulnerable plants on cold nights, always use sheets of newspaper, horticultural fleece, bubble wrap or straw. If you are unsure about what is considered a tender plant always plant slightly later in Spring to avoid disaster.
If it’s due to snow, move pot plants you think might be at risk into a cold frame or a greenhouse. If you do not have sufficient space for a cold frame or greenhouse, wrap the outside of the container with bubble wrap or hessian cloth and use garden twine to secure tightly in place. For ease in future, line pot with bubble wrap before compost and planting. Alternatively, if your pots are light, you can opt to group them all together, wrap protection around the perimeter of all pots and they will help insulate each other!
I recommend Euonymus japonicus ‘Happiness’, it is a bright colourful evergreen and what makes it special is the young shoots are light green, soon fading to golden-yellow. The twigs remain green against the striking golden foliage. The older leaves found at the base of the plant are green. This plant is robust and tolerant of a wide range of conditions which makes it one of my plant trends this season.”
We hope that you will find David’s advice helpful and that your plants will survive the winter with your care.