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Winter’s Song

Tips for Winter

Enchanted by her half-light
and whispers of lingering nights.
Here I stand, grounding,
my feet upon her soil.
Imagination courses through
my roots, akin to the trees,
delving deep, steadying me
through winter’s fold.
Local horticulturist and author Sally-Anne Fowles, of Spirited Gardening.

As the blanket of winter drapes over our beautiful Adelaide Hills, Mother Nature delivers an entirely different scenario, keeping gardeners well and truly enchanted, if not a tad challenged, with what to do to keep your plants and garden flourishing.
If you were up and about early enough, mid-April brought a scattering of frost, especially through the lowlands.
This frost was well and truly earlier than I can (certainly in my mid-life mind) remember.
The point of my introduction is not to make concrete plans for your garden based on previous years’ temperatures or rainfall.
Yes, seasonal tasks are relevant, however, the finer details of your garden’s requirements are left up to you and your “in the present” observations.
Most recently the leaves of deciduous trees have turned to stunning, vibrant tones and dropped in preparation for dormancy.
I ask you, is this not a sign from the natural world, of which we are part, to slow down, be still and turn within?
Winter is certainly a time to reflect on many things, including how the natural space of which we are custodians sits in our hearts and minds.
Think of it this way: even though trees and plants do not reflect growth in their leaves and branches over winter, their roots search for nutrients to prepare for a burst of growth in spring and summer.
This season is about nourishment.
So, care for the soil.
Apply nourishing soil improvers, including seaweed-based products (rich in minerals), and/or processed composts and manures.
The healthier your soil, the healthier your plants, which, in turn, will see your plants becoming more resistant to temperature extremes, frosts, pests and disease.

Tips for Winter

  1. Indoor plants: be super mindful of your indoor plants over winter.
    Most indoor plant varieties are tropical or subtropical.
    Yes, they may love the warmth of heating systems, however, dry air is detrimental.
    Ensure plants are moved away from direct heating systems and a regular “spritz” of misted water is applied to keep the humidity up.
    Standing the plant in a shallow saucer of pebbles filled with water can also help with consistent humidity.
  2. Watering: don’t be fooled – as I write this article in May, the saving rains have still not arrived.
    To date, we, in the Adelaide Hills, have not had good, soaking rain since December.
    It is a rare event at this stage of the season that I am still turning my irrigation on every week for a good soak of approximately four hours.
    Even so, after this watering, a dig down revealed only a few centimetres, at the most, of soakage.
    Moral of the story – don’t be fooled by the cooler conditions.
    Have a dig down to see just how damp your soil is, particularly near new plantings, and adjust your watering accordingly.
  3. The vegie patch: don’t delay sourcing lovely organic garlic bulbs (cloves) to plant prior to winter solstice (June 20), for a bountiful summer solstice (December 21) harvest. Insert the cloves into friable, organic, rich soil, pointy end up at a depth of 5cm and 15cm apart.
    Asparagus crowns (bare-rooted) are also available in nurseries currently, making for a tasty, long-lived inclusion to your patch.
    And for the sweet-toothed amongst us rhubarb crowns (bare-rooted) are also available.
  4. Cheerful winter beauties: I must confess, pansies and violas are my absolute favourite annuals that not only delight my eyes, but also, as an edible flower, garnish every dish I create.
  5. Plantings for wildlife: all feathered, furred and scaled creatures will be grateful for the inclusion of native plants in your garden, as many are valuable flowering food sources through the depths of winter.
    Shrubs such as grevilleas and callistemons also provide safe havens for roosting and nesting.

With such an enormous range now available, there are shapes, habits and sizes to fit any garden.


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