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Green Fingers in Winter

Down at Caves Folly in Colwall, Bridget is taking stock of a busy year and the season ahead.

As I write this the maples are full of fiery reds and oranges and Autumn is well underway. The fieldfares and redwings are drifting in on the northerly winds and there is an abundance of berries for the birds this year.

Now is the time to put the garden to bed for the winter and prepare for the spring. Don’t be too tidy in the garden as it is not beneficial to most wildlife. Keep areas of leaves and old logs for hedgehogs to hibernate. Fallen leaves can be used to add to the compost heap, but I leave any leaves on borders to rot down over the winter. They provide nutrient to the soil, supress weeds and give insects and other creatures protection in winter.

Help the bees by planting some winter flowering plants such as Hellebores, Heathers, Lonicera Fragrantissima or Mahonia. Climate change means that some bee species are increasingly active in the winter months.

Containers can provide a splash of colour in late winter. Plant them up with early bulbs, winter pansies, wallflowers, forget-me-nots and heathers. Prune climbing roses between now and February and continue to harvest vegetables such as leeks, cabbages, kale and spinach. It might be worth covering over turnips, celeriac and cauliflowers with some fleece for extra winter protection.
Established vines, apples and pears need pruning over the coming weeks. Blackcurrants can be reduced by a third to encourage new growth next year. If you’re planning to plant any bareroot fruit trees, do this between now and February.

Clear any diseased leaves off plants in the garden or on the ground, this will reduce the chance of the spores infecting the plants in the spring. When the winter sets in, add well-rotted organic matter to the soil as a mulch.
Clean all your tools and oil and sharpen secateurs. I take mine to the wonderful repair café in Ledbury. Book a slot on the website and take your tools or anything else for mending or sharpening. (

I have to mention Christmas, of course. Christmas gifts for gardeners can include plants, seeds, tools and books. Why not buy a book to inspire young gardeners?

Enjoy being out in the winter sunshine when you can and bring greenery or house plants inside for when the weather is gloomy. Have a Happy Christmas and take time to rest, before we know it the growing season will start all over again!


Bridget runs Caves Folly Nurseries on Evendine Lane in  Colwall (WR13 6DX). They are open from March until October, Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 - 4. You can contact them on 01684 540631 or visit their website: