Although flowers can be scarce in the garden over the winter months,
berries, evergreen foliage, and trees with decorative bark will cheer up
the garden and add interest. Take stock of the gardening year as it
ends, and use the time to begin planning your spring displays.
Bring herbs indoors
Most container herb plants are too delicate to survive the winter
outdoors, so bring them under cover in their pots for the colder months
before temperatures begin to drop. This will ensure a steady supply to
liven up your winter dishes when other produce is less plentiful.
Position pots on a windowsill to catch as much winter sunshine as
possible, and pinch off growing tips when necessary to promote a bushy
Many grasses, such as the huge range of Miscanthus varieties available,
have attractive seedheads that can be left on the plants over fall and
winter. Their dry plumes look attractive, especially when dusted with
Plant Fruit Trees
Now’s the time to order and plant bare root trees. Prepare the ground
first by digging in plenty of well-rotted organic matter to improve the
soil structure. A feed of general fertilizer will also help to get your
trees off to a good start.
February is the month to prune many woody plants, including
winter-flowering shrubs, such as Hamamelis, once their flowers have
faded. Summer-flowering shrubs, such as the butterfly bush (Buddleja
davidii), that flower on new wood later in the summer can be cut back,
using loppers if necessary. The twiggy prunings can be used as plant
supports elsewhere in the garden, or shredded to be added to the compost
heap or to make a mulch that can be applied in spring when the ground
is a little warmer.
Feed the Birds
Food for birds is in short supply over the colder months, so put food
out for them on a regular basis; different mixes are available for
feeders and for bird tables and ground feeding. Clean out bird boxes of
old nesting material to encourage birds to nest in them again next year.
Birds will be looking for winter roosts, so do this as soon as
possible. If they are already familiar with a box by spring, they are
more likely to select it as a nesting site.
Store Winter Squashes
Pumpkins and winter squashes can be left on the vine during the fall to
reach their maximum size and develop brightly colored skins. Do not
leave on the plant over winter as they may rot or be eaten by pests.
Once “cured” in the sun for ten days, they can be stored. Keep them in a
dry, well-ventilated, frost-free place, checking regularly for damage
Clean Tools and Equipment
Take advantage of the quieter winter months in the garden to check over
and clean all your garden equipment before storing it. Clean or discard
any old pots and trays that you’re not intending to reuse, as well as
checking tools and getting the lawnmower serviced and sharpened. You
won’t need to mow the lawn itself over the winter—just avoid walking on
it in frosty weather to try to prevent damage.