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!
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.
Lupins will be one of the first herbaceous perennials to start back into growth in late winter. Last year, they were well advanced with new leaves when they had a dump of snow in March (and I experienced jelly in my lupins!)
Erodium manescavii (star of ‘Stained Glass’) has had a good trim too.
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:
And here with a zing of lime.
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.
And here with a single red button.
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.
There are a few buds on the roses, but I don’t think they will open unless I cut them and bring them inside.
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.
To see the rose garden in summer, wander around here:
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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