WITH longer range weather forecasts suggesting that we may be in for another Arctic winter, you might want to give some thought to some of your more sensitive plants in the garden – assuming that they have survived the last two winters.
I have to say that, during this last summer, I have been amazed at the number of reports I have heard of plants that have survived or recovered from the ravages of two harsh winters.
But we gardeners are a cautious lot and, for those of us that have plants teetering on the boundaries of hardiness in our supposedly northern temperate climate, a few extra precautions might not go amiss to conserve our precious plants.
The obvious jobs include bringing any tender summer plants such an canna lilies, dahlias, gladioli, tuberous begonias and liliums into a cool glasshouse, frost free garage, frost free porch, cool spare bedroom or similar to dry out.
Once the old top growth has completely died back, it can be removed and the bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers can be stored in dry compost – storing in wet compost in their summer containers is a sure step towards death.
For those of you with passiflora, callistemon, palm trees and other warm temperate plants, either planted out or in containers, mulching the surface of the soil or compost with coarse bark can help to stop the roots from freezing and covering the top growth with several layers of fleece can greatly improve their chances of survival.
Traditionally these plants, including their containers, would have been wrapped in straw with a hessian sacking cover or would have been taken into an orangery, conservatory or cool glasshouse for the winter.
I am not a great lover of the idea of wrapping pots in bubble polythene as it sweats and this can freeze.
If you are one step ahead of the rest of us then you may have already taking cuttings of some of these plants as a ‘belt and braces’ approach to the problem.
It is worth trying even now if you have a warm, sunny windowsill or a heated propagator and, if they root and get through until springtime, you can share one or two with a neighbour or relative.
Large evergreens such as conifers can suffer very badly if we have a heavy, wet fall of snow so you must either be prepared to go out and tap off the snow with a cloths prop or long broom handle as soon as you can or, if you want to pre-empt the damage, wire or net the stems together to stop them being damaged in the first place.
_ If you have had any surprising survivors from the last two cold winters, why not write to me at Graham’s Winter Wonders, Features Department, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Pennine Business Park, Longbow Close, Bradley Road, Huddersfield, HD2 1GQ and I will highlight them in a future article.