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Time to care for your winter beds!

If roses, shrubs and so on are to bloom abundantly next year, they need to survive the long winter without frost and drought damage.

Frost, damp and winter sun pose a threat to many plants

You be ready for Jack Frost to put in an appearance at any time and for dew drops to turn to hoar frost. This means far more stress for plants than a protective covering of snow, particularly if the sun shines at minus temperatures. It causes evergreen shrubs to suffer burns or drought damage on the tips of their leaves and shoots if they are not covered with a loose protective layer of spruce or pine branches. Spruce branches also have the advantage that their needles fall in the spring and the plants slowly become exposed to the light again. As well as problems caused by the winter sun, damp and frost clog up sensitive shrubs such as penstemons and chrysanthemums. These plants won't survive for long without protection and often perish in the cold in their first or second winter. A loose covering of leaves or spruce branches can provide a quick remedy, whilst a thin layer of compost preserves the soil at the same time in the run up to the big freeze. And because shrubs like yarrow or hornwort do not like stagnant winter moisture, coarse-grain sand should then be introduced into heavy, loamy soil to promote water drainage.

Ideal protection for roses

When you protect roses for winter, you must protect the extremely sensitive grafting point at the base of the bush shoots. If you earth up the root region to a height of 15-20 centimetres with composted earth or garden soil, Jack Frost will have no chance. This applies particularly to bedding roses, hybrid tea roses and bush roses. In long stem roses, the graft point is below the head, and therefore the whole head is usually packed with fleece, brushwood or jute. Taller grasses and bamboos can be adequately prepared for minus temperatures by tying them together and wrapping them in special fleece, bamboo or rush matting. Never use plastic film, as air will not circulate underneath it and increased humidity will lead to fungal infections. However, you must not forget to water bamboos and other evergreens such as rhododendrons, cherry laurel or box on days when there is no frost, because water evaporates from their leaves even in winter.

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