With Autumn clearance of the beds in the Flower Garden now almost complete, we have an abundance of tender plants which need some love and attention to get them through the coming Winter. Dahlias, Salvias and succulents make up the majority of these plants. Although we take cuttings every year of the Salvias, and these are thriving in the glass houses, we always keep some of the older plants as stock plants. These older plants are tougher than the young cuttings and can be over wintered in the peach house, which remains frost free but is unheated. We select plants which are 1 or 2 years old to ensure they are large and robust enough to get through the Winter and provide us with nice big specimens to use in the borders next year. These are potted with regular potting compost and will need very little attention until the Spring when they start growing. At this point they can become very thirsty and soon need feeding as they use up the limited nutrients in the potting compost. This is, however, a small investment of time in return for such beautiful plants which will flower all through the Summer.
Dahlias and succulents are even less fussy when it comes to their Winter home. The dahlia tubers are packed into trays of old compost and stored in a frost free, dark shed. As long as they do not dry out, get frosted or nibbled by mice they will sit happy and dormant until we are ready to pot them up in Spring to start the growth for the coming season. The succulents, likewise, are easy to look after as all they need is to be dry during the cold months. These are potted into a compost with grit added for extra drainage and kept in a covered but unheated glasshouse. We then totally ignore them until the temperatures start to rise in Spring and they are ready to grow.