As the last autumnal colours disappear from our landscape and the wintery silhouettes of tree and shrubs show their beautiful outline against the wintery sky, I start to really enjoy the evergreen touches in the garden. During the summer months they do not stand out in amongst all the other green plants, but now they are the most welcome and important plants in the garden that not only provide some welcome colour, they also offer valuable shelter for numerous garden birds. Continue Reading →
Much of this week the weather has been very seasonal: cold, grey and damp. I have always disliked this weather, as in Belgium where I grew up, it would oft hang around for days on end. Whilst I had the feeling of living under a heavy oppressive lid, I could see plants struggle in this damp cold climate. Particularly Mediterranean plants like lavender would on occasion not survive the winter because of the high humidity. Continue Reading →
This weekend is the official inauguration of our advents‘ exhibition. As I write this, there are still dozens of colleagues decorating, sweeping, tidying, moving things around. This week no stone has been left unturned. Outside in the plant sales area, what is left of the woody plants and the herbaceous, has been tidied up and redecorated. Falling leaves have been relentlessly swept up. Continue Reading →
The gardening season is striding into its final phase. Even those trees which until a few days ago were still pretending the season is not over yet, are now succumbing and start donning their colourful autumn coats. Even Berlin’s most resilient street tree Populus simonii is starting to show a few yellowish leaves. This lovely tree develops a gently weeping habit as it matures and is always the first one to come into leaf and the last one to drop its green coat. Continue Reading →
(Deutsche Version) Clear skies have finally caused the night-time temperatures to drop below zero. This means the end for some plants that do not tolerate frost, it also meant stunning mornings with plants glistening in the crisp early morning light as each minute detail is amplified by the tiny ice crystals that have formed overnight. For Berlin this is a relatively rare phenomenon. Not that we do not get frosts, but usually the air is rather dry in winter, so that fewer ice crystals form. The heavy hoarfrosts that used to be a regular occurnece in our English garden, are a rare event.
The first frost victims
I am always astonished to see how frost-proof some flowers are. The last of the heavily scented, dark red David Austin roses ‘Munstead Wood’ was coated in a thick layer of ice in the morning, by afternoon the flower looked as if nothing had happened. The nasturtiums on the other hand were a sorry, soggy mess. They do not tolerate any frost at all. Cosmos was also past its best, the new hybrid ’Cupcakes’ looking like jellyfish.
Bring in your dahlias
Dahlias too got frosted. Now is the time to dig them up and dry them off in a cool, dry shed or garage before storing them in a cool, dark place for the winter. A box lined with some newspaper and filled with leaves will do. Make sure you label them so next spring you know which ones go where in the border. As you clear annuals and dahlias, use the opportunity to plant your bulbs, if you have not done so already!
Overwintering frost-sensitive plants
Our wonderful gardening team has been busy this week with their annual giant tetris-game: bringing in all the frost-sensitive plants, and fitting them into the limited space available. We do have many greenhouses, but not all are guaranteed frost-proof. Although many will tolerate a few cold nights, all the citrus plants, Oleander and Bougainvillea have been brought inside. Also the succulents like Agave, Aloe and cacti are now under cover. The high water-content in the gel-like center of their leaves will not cope with much frost.
Plants need a rest
Evergreen plants like olive trees do not go fully dormant, but they do require a period of rest during these darker months where the daylight levels are low and the temperatures low. You cannot overwinter them in a dark cellar. Therefore you must keep them cool, stop feeding them, and do not water them too much. Just keep them slightly moist. If standing too warm, the will continue to grow, producing long, weak and etiolated shoots that will collapse when moved back outside in spring.
Make sure you switch off and drain your external taps and irrigation systems!