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Green Fingers in Winter

Down at Caves Folly Nursery in Colwall, Bridget is busy preparing the garden for winter, making sure there is space for wildlife. 

What a lovely mild autumn we have had with some stunning leaf colours and lots of perennials flowering until late November.

The leaves have nearly all gone now and it’s time to hibernate for some of our wildlife. We have only three animals that hibernate; bats, hedgehogs and dormice. They tuck themselves in for winter and appear again when the weather warms up, usually around March. Be careful when tidying up large piles of sticks and leaves as there may be loud snoring from within!

Winter is a time for making plans for the next growing season. Plan and order your seeds, bulbs and any bareroot trees, shrubs or hedging you need so that you can plant them at the right time.

When you are buying Christmas presents there are lots of gardening related gifts on offer, from a cheap packet of seeds to a luxury greenhouse! Houseplants also make excellent gifts and will last well into the new year.

Cut evergreens such as Holly, Ivy, Euonymus, Viburnum, Elaeagnus, Conifers to make garlands, wreaths and table decorations. It makes so much difference to have some natural decoration in the house at Christmas. You could also create a festive corner outside by the back door with plants in pots. Use flowers and attractive foliage.

There are plenty of jobs to be getting on with outside. In the ornamental garden you can cut back foliage of Helleborus x hybrids to make space for the early spring blooms and help get rid of hellebore leaf spot. Cut back deciduous hedges and trees, this is an ideal time to assess the shape of a tree when it has no leaves. Cut herbaceous perennials back to ground level and remove any diseased leaves.

You can prune grape vines in December and tidy up brassicas by removing brown and diseased leaves. Stake very tall Brussels sprouts stems to stop them getting damaged in the wind. Continue pruning apple and pear trees through until February. For early crops sow cauliflower, onions, leeks and lettuce under cover.

Wildlife Gardening: Keep bird baths from freezing, clean out any old bird boxes for the spring and continue to put out food for birds. When planting new hedges, consider using indigenous species that will give shelter in the winter as well as flowers and berries. Consider planting winter flowering plants for pollinators. Butcher’s broom, Winter heathers, Hellebores, Winter honeysuckle and clematis are all good.

I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 5. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: