At the moment everyone seems to want to get ahead and surge on with planting ready for spring, but do wait until you have a frost which will kill off summer bedding plants before you rush out there trying to clear everything away,
Remember, winter will appear to be a bit shorter all the time you can see a few flowers and lots of foliage furnishing the garden.
But if you really would like to make a start, there's nothing wrong going out to buy some plants but not putting them into the ground.
Make sure you look after them by putting them in a nice light place so they continue to grow on.
If you do this, you can choose the colours you would like to see, so forget about everything being ‘mixed’ varieties.
Hanging baskets are often a failure during the winter. They will be far too exposed, swinging up in the air being buffeted by cold winds every few days.
Take them down once they have finished blooming, shake out the old compost and dump it on to a border or into the compost heap.
Now clean them up and put them away until next May.
However, you can use upturned baskets to cover tulip bulbs in the rock garden. This will prevent them being dug up by squirrels or birds.
To enhance a wall however, because of the protection a wall gives, flat-backed baskets are fine.
A very good display can be achieved if they are fixed so one is about two feet below the other.
While it may not be possible to achieve a cascade of flowers from one basket down to another, similar to that enjoyed during the summer, it can still look really good.
Don’t forget, the compost for plant containers is important.
Garden soil on its own is useless. What you need is a good compost. John Innes Number 3 is the strongest and a lot less likely to dry out or, for that matter, to become too wet,
If you grew summer plants in containers it's a good idea at this time of year to take out the top half of the compost and replace it with fresh.
This will not only sustains the plants but also give you the opportunity to take out any vine weevil grubs which may be devouring the roots of the old flowers. Not the most pleasant job, but when you find them, simply squash them between your thumb and forefinger.
Tubs, troughs and pots are best emptied completely so pieces of broken flowerpot can be placed over the holes in the base. This will ensure excess water can escape.
After emptying them, half fill them with the old compost and then top up with the new. You’ll be amazed how much this improves the look of your planters as well as improving the ‘soil’ structure.
Next summer we shall have to renew all the compost with fresh John Innes compost.
Remember to put all containers on little terracotta feet so that earthworms can’t get into the compost.
Oh, I almost forgot: shake roses out of pots and renew the whole pot with John Innes No3, which, again, is the best for this job.
THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP
Before storing away plastic garden furniture, give it a good wash using Flash. It brings
it up like new. Allow to dry before covering with especially-made garden furniture covering.