Comfy Pants

My favourite winter job in the garden is MULCHING.

Just the word is delightful.  Like squelching, but warmer and snugglier.

Mulch can be almost any organic matter that you can use as a nice thick quilt over your shrubs and plants.  It might be well-rotted manure, compost, or bark chippings. 

Mulch serves several purposes:

  • It seals moisture into the soil in the warmer months.
  • It helps to suppress weeds.  Any weed seeds that germinate on the mulch can be easily pulled.
  • It provides slow-release nutrients for years to come.
  • It helps to improve the structure of your soil.  It will lighten clay soils and add substance to thin sandy or chalky soils.

So mulching is win-win-win-win.  It is money well spent.  I have been known to request a load of sh*t for my birthday or Christmas!

My mulch-of-choice is well-rotted farmyard manure.  Any manure will do; I think mine is horse, but cow, chicken, or indeed alpaca dung have been used previously. 

I order my manure from Compost Direct.   I get a grab-bag on a palette.  They will leave your delivery if you are not in, so long as they can get access to your property.  The manure is a consistently good product, and I have not had any problems with weeds being brought into the garden.  My only criticism is that there is no way to return the palette and grab-bag to be re-used.  If anyone has a need for old grab-bags, please let me know!

Once delivered, I just need a fine day to start shovelling it into a wheelbarrow.

Look at my lovely manure!

This manure doesn’t smell bad, because it is well-rotted.  I would guess that it is a couple of years’ old, like our homemade compost.  It is also fairly light to handle, meaning that I can skip around with the wheelbarrow, maybe adding a jaunty little heel-click as I round a bend.

It can be shovelled into the barrow, danced around the garden paths, and then upended onto the flowerbeds.  Then spread around by hand.  I can’t tell you how much fun this is!

Rosa ‘England’s Rose’ in December

The roses get first dibs, and then if there is any left over, the herbaceous perennials get the rest.  I try to get a thickness of 5-10cm.

Before muck-spreading, I just tidied up the flowerbeds a little.  I removed fallen foliage from the roses, and cut back the herbaceous perennials, which have finally stopped flowering.

Here is the divine Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’.  I gave her a rather severe haircut, but she’s not precious about her tresses.  In fact, I think she feels lighter and freer.

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ (right)

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ gets an even more severe treatment.  It is reduced to stubble.

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, having been shorn.

Lupins will be one of the first herbaceous perennials to start back into growth in late winter.  

Lupin ‘Thunderclouds’ foliage in December

Erodium manescavii (star of ‘Stained Glass’) has had a good trim too.

Erodium manescavii after a chop

Now that I have mulched the whole bed, there is a lovely dark chocolate background to the remaining foliage and flowers.  Here is chilli chocolate:

Gallica Rose ‘Sissinghurst Castle’ winter foliage

And here with a zing of lime.

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ winter foliage

The warm brown tones remind me of a comfy pair of corduroy trousers. Or, even better (after the excesses of Christmas) maybe a pair of dungarees. We all need comfy pants, and roses are no exception.

Here, styled with a silk scarf.

Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’

And here with a single red button.

Rosa ‘Hansa’ in December

This is the last flower in the rose garden.  It is Penstemon ‘Raven’.  It is looking a bit wind-swept, but so would you if you had been sleeping outdoors for the last month.  Penstemons are one perennial that I don’t cut back over winter.  The old foliage will protect the tender new growth from frost damage, so I will leave it be until mid-Spring.

Penstemon ‘Raven’. The last flower, in December.

There are a few buds on the roses, but I don’t think they will open unless I cut them and bring them inside.

Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’

It has been a fantastic year in the rose garden.  These blooms have been bringing joy since June.  They deserve their comfy pants now.  Relax, kick back, drink your hot chocolate, stroke your corduroy, and snuggle down until Spring.

Rosa ‘Lady of Megginch’

To see the rose garden in summer, wander around here:

The Rose Garden at the Start of June

Moody Blues

The Rose Garden at the End of June

The Garden that Keeps on Giving

I expect you deserve a little rest too.  Feel free to explore the links on this post, and just hang out for a while.  In your comfy pants.

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. Emma Cownie says:

    I love that there’s a “Compost Direct”!

  2. Heyjude says:

    Your borders even look good when bare! No weeds! Mine are all soggy and brown and the weeds are flourishing. I shall wait for spring now before tackling the raised beds.

    1. There are a few patches I need to tackle. My gravelly bits are the worst.

      1. Heyjude says:

        Don’t even talk to me about MY gravelly bits!!

  3. I will be playing outside today,also. Hooray!

  4. You are ambitious at this time of year. Over here, nobody mulches until spring, but your winters are much warmer than ours. I know you are having fun if you are in your garden.

    1. Oh, that’s interesting. Yes, I work in the garden year-round, so long as it’s dry.

  5. bcparkison says:

    That mulch does look really good. With all these out door cats it doesn’t do much good to do anything around here. but I keep trying. Between the cats scratching and the dog digging ….well…..what ever.

    1. Oh no! I used to have that problem in my old house in my raised bed. I tried everything – twiggy bits, a water pistol, lion poo! Nothing worked!

    2. people swear by motion-activated sprinklers… I can’t use one, because there is no water outlet on the balcony, so no personal experience. People claim they do wonders at keeping the neighbours’ cats away

  6. bcparkison says:

    It is a never ending battle and I am losing

  7. I’m getting out today to do some cutting back. Hopefully look as good as your borders. Then got some well rotted leaf mulch to put down once it’s all done.

  8. I love it that you love mulching! That is wonderful. John and I compost all the stuff we can, and I want to start using it on my gardens more. I am going to have a garden this year, even if it is just a little one–thanks to you!

    1. How lovely! I hope you share the adventure!

  9. Cathy says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the process here a couple of months ago and was surprised jow quickly and easily the contents of such a big bag were distributed. I will try and remember your source for next year as communication and delivery of the company I bought from was rubbish

    1. I remember it being a hassle with a previous company. With this one you can say you are happy for them to leave it if you are not in, which makes a big difference when I’m working.

      1. Cathy says:

        It was lack of communication full stop – they did try to blame the couriers but it would have helped if they had just kept us informed

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