In the Garden: Planting bulbs in the winter weather

Louise and Sam from the garden team at Audley End plant bulbs

Louise and Sam from the garden team at Audley End plant bulbs - Credit: Archant

November brings the first wave of winter. Leaves and temperatures are falling and autumn will soon reach its peak. However, there is plenty to be doing in the garden to prepare for the season ahead.

This is a perfect time to plant bulbs. Bulbous plants are some of the best-known flowers in the garden. Many are spring flowering, including tulips, daffodils, crocus, snowdrops, bluebells and alliums. There are bulbs for every situation from sun to shade and for soils from poor to rich, dry to damp.

Most prefer well drained conditions as some bulbs may rot in damp soil. Bulbs can be used in mixed borders, naturalised in a lawn or used in pots that can be moved into prominent positions while they flower.

In all cases, plant at least twice the bulbs’ width apart and at a depth of two or three times the bulbs’ height. After flowering it is important to leave the browning foliage on your bulbs until every leaf has died right down, usually by early summer. This allows the bulb to store more food and produce flowers the following year. This rule applies across the board with bulbs.

Along with bulb planting, there are plenty of other jobs to tackle in the garden:

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• November signals the start of planting season. Over the next five months this dormant period is the perfect time for planting trees and shrubs. Planting at this time of year ensures the roots receive plenty of moisture along with time to settle and establish before the spring.

• Plant garlic. Depending on the planting time, they take 16-32 weeks to mature. Bury your cloves 2.5cm deep so the tip is just visible, then firm in to prevent them being bothered by birds or frost.

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• Mulch. Adding a mulch on beds and borders will protect it from the elements over the coming months and improve soil structure.

• Lift dahlias. Carefully lift them with a fork and cut the stems down to two inches. Clean them, lay them out to dry and store in a dark, frost-free place.

We hope to see you at Audley End soon. Current highlights include our fabulous pumpkin display along with the wonderful autumn tree colour throughout the grounds.

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