Winter is well and truly upon us and with it the harsh cold that can take its toll on everyone. But humans aren’t the only ones who can fall victim to our country’s harsh winter conditions, our plants can also suffer through colder months if not looked after properly. As the mercury drops your plants kick into survival mode, going dormant in order to endure the severe weather. Your lawn growth begins to slow down, your trees lose their greenery and your florals lose their buds.
The reason for the lack of growth in plants in winter can be linked to the conservation of nutrients, as plants shift their focus on recycling them to properly revive and flourish come spring.
Whether it’s an entire outdoor garden or just a few pot plants around the house it’s crucial to give your plants the proper care they need as the colder conditions set in to keep them healthy and alive. Making sure you water your plants at the right time, whether you’re giving them enough shade, or if they’re getting enough sunlight can not always be so straightforward, especially when it comes to varying species of plants.
With that in mind and in an effort to alleviate any concerns around your horticultural endeavours, Starts at 60 spoke to the gardening experts to find out ways to keep colour and vibrancy in your life and your garden this winter.
Why not benefit from your gardening in more ways than just aesthetics? Planting vegetables will not only introduce colour back into your garden during the cold but in the kitchen as well.
Herb expert and Owner of Mudbrick Herb Cottage, Sandra Nanka, says winter is the perfect time to start a vegetable garden.
“Winter is a great time to plant a variety of vegetables and herbs in the garden because it’s when pests and insects are their least active and obtrusive,” Nanka says.
Nanka provided some suggestions as to the best kind of vegetables to grow – the brassica variety.
“The best veggies to plant at this time are your brassicas. Think broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts,” she says.
She also recommends “silverbeet, beetroot, celery, broad beans, radish and some lettuce” as both perfect and delicious options to grow.
The herb expert said there’s no better time to start a herb garden, suggesting a list of her preferred options.
“Some of my favourite herbs to grow during winter include dill, thyme, sage, chives and parsley, and it’s no coincidence they all pair well with soups,” she says.
As the old adage goes, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”, so if you’re not in a rush to see the fruits of your labour, the perfect project is to prepare your garden beds for spring. Gardening will keep you busy and entertained, warming you up as you pot about, and the hard work will pay off when your garden bursts to life in the warmer months.
Toowoomba’s 2019 Grand Champion Gardener Julie Roggeveen says “the most recognised spring blooming flowers are grown through the winter months”.
The expert gardener listed “stocks, pansies, calendula, snapdragons, alyssum, primula, dianthus, cineraria, ranunculus, sweet peas, and petunias” as the best flowers to bring vibrancy back into bloom.
Roggeveen says perhaps the best tip to ensure your winter gardening pays off in spring, is also the hardest one.
“Remove the first flower buds that appear to allow the new plant to grow in size before putting all its efforts into producing flowers,” she says.
“This isn’t an easy thing to do as excitement that a flower is coming can make it all too tempting to leave it be, but, this will be at the expense of plant growth and many more flowers later.”
To prepare your garden, Roggeveen suggests starting with weeding and turning over the soil to a depth of a hand fork before planting seedlings.
She also suggests the generous application of “good Compost or animal manure…applied to the bed and lightly turn over”.
“Just remember fresh chicken manure is too strong for seedlings and will burn their tiny roots. Bagged animal manures are readily available and are good to use.”
There is a myriad of ways to introduce colour to your outdoor space while you wait for your spring buds to bloom.
Roggeveen says “almost everyone has access to some type of pot that can be utilised as a winter project”, suggesting the pot itself can be the pop of colour.
“Provided there are drainage holes in what you intend to use and it’s placed on bricks or something similar so it will actually drain, you are good to go,” she says.
“Pots of colour are easily moved around the garden to fill in bare spots or grouped together on a patio for if you have a function planned.”
Design expert Melissa Bonney says adding even the smallest decorations to outdoor spaces can make a huge difference to your happiness.
“The connection between the indoor and outdoor areas has always been important in our Australian climate but in a post-pandemic world, it has also become critical for people’s wellbeing and ability to stay connected and grounded. It’s the little additions to our outdoor areas that can make all the difference,” Bonney says.
The designer says the perfect addition for winter, is a fire pit.
“Adding a fire pit will provide an immediate feature for the garden and become a natural gathering spot for socialising and entertaining and provides warmth as well as a great cooking source. People are naturally drawn to the campfire-like atmosphere,” she says.
Other suggestions for adding colour back into your life in winter include mosaics, sculptures or perhaps an indoor plant to bring the much-loved greenery inside, safe and protected from the cold.
With these expert suggestions, all green thumbs will be able to enjoy the vibrancy of your garden and liven up your outdoor areas during winter.