1Get through to spring without losing your mind
If you read gardening books and magazines or listen to so-called experts, you’ll know that now is the time to overwinter your tender plants.
You could be inclined to hide under a duvet until March to avoid all the hassle – or you could take my fatalistic approach to overwintering…
2Don’t be flash if you’re lazy
If you’re too idle to protect sub-tropical plants, don’t splash out loads of cash on them in the first place. Bananas, etc, are for life, not just one summer. Buy a plastic plant instead.
3Don’t cry over your losses
You WILL have plants die on you. This is not your fault, it happens to the most experienced of gardeners (only they probably won’t tell you).
4Look on the black side
Expect everything to die, then any plant that survives is a plant gained.
5Double (or triple) your chances of success
If you have borderline hardy plants, take some inside under glass, cover plants in borders with fleece and bubble wrap and move pots to sheltered locations, such as south or west-facing walls.
6Expect the unexpected
A few years back I moved a few Echiums in pots indoors – they got infested with aphids and barely made it through. The plants that had seeded themselves outdoors survived without a problem.
7Have a backup plan
Take cuttings of easily rooted varieties such as geraniums and succulents, or divide plants with a crown.
8Winter wet and wind are the real killers
Rotting roots from excessive winter wet, especially for Mediterranean-type plants like lavender, is a major problem. Gale-force winds destroy greenhouses, letting in the cold to vulnerable plants. I’ve spent as much as my 8ftx4ft greenhouse cost originally in new glass and this is only its third winter! Explore retrofitting greenhouses with more wind-resistant glazing bars instead of the usual W-shaped glazing clips.
9Gravel and horticultural sand are life-savers
Add to the bottom of planting holes to aid drainage – Mediterranean plants will thrive in a mostly gravel-based growing medium. Water drains fast, so roots can’t rot or freeze. Mulching with gravel protects from frost.
10Watch the weather forecast
BBC One’s Countryfile on Sunday evenings is my guide for the week (no Gardener’s World weather until spring). You’ll get an idea if you need to take action against adverse conditions coming your way.
11Invest in bubble wrap, fleece, and decent clips
These cheap standbys are there to fling on plants if the weather turns freezing. Newspaper and old net curtains can also provide protection.