We are almost at the shortest day; it is definitely winter, but the garden is alive. It is surprising how much is growing in the garden and not just the spring bulbs which are well ahead of themselves. The images above are on the left Achillea and on the right Aster. Both are summer flowering perennials which I have been cutting back, one of the winter garden jobs. At the base you can see the plant's new growth which will be next years flowering plant.
I am in the midst of the winter clear up, a job which often takes place over much of the winter on milder days. Once the perennials have been cut back the weeds are much easier to spot and there are plenty to weed out. I also remove leaves which accumulate in the borders. That may seem counter- intuitive, as leaf mulch is good for the borders, but that is the well rotted down variety not the newly blown leaves which are slimly and can harbour disease.
December is a quiet time in the garden, there are no pressing jobs. It is nice to get out on the few mild days and clear up leaves and winter debris. By weeding over the winter I try to start the spring relatively weed free, a battle surrendered by late summer.
This image below is, in some ways, not a Hosta. By which I mean this is where a really large Hosta grew in the summer. Unlike Achillea and Aster, Hostas die back completely in the winter leaving no trace behind. There will be no fresh shoots from the Hosta until spring next year.
If a plant label states it is a ' Herbaceous Perennial' you can expect it to die back completely in the late autumn and over winter, leaving you with bare earth sometimes until quite late in the year. The image on the right is of a Hosta emerging, and was taken in early May, so you can expect bare earth for quite a few months.
Winter in the Veg Plot
Winter in the veg plot is not just about Winter cabbages and Brassicas, although they are good to grow, Winter is also lettuce time. I have had lettuce growing in the veg plot all summer, autumn and into the winter. We may often eat Tomatoes and Lettuce together, but there are very different plants Tomatoes are very tender and only viable during the summer.
In the two images below, on the left is Autumn lettuce and Rocket which has been consumed, picking off those plants growing outside the cloche. Lettuce will withstand a degree of frost which meant throughout November, despite frosts, the lettuces outside the cloche were unaffected. Anticipating more severe winter weather, some summer sown lettuces and winter lettuces have been planted under the cloche. Lettuce is much more hardy than it may appear, and there are plenty of winter lettuces to pick and grow. How to grow Winter Lettuce.