With the onset of the cold this week I thought it wise to include as an initial post here, some advice on how to care for your plants and keep them from being damaged by the frosts.
Frost, especially now, at the end of February, can be a very real danger to the plants in your garden.
New buds are starting to emerge, and break. Bulbs are striking through the ground at an exhaustive rate. And many are tempted to start pruning by the mild, and almost warm spells of weather we are getting more frequently in our Winters here in England.
A sudden, sharp frost then, can cause much damage. But we are not helpless!
Here are some useful winter gardening tips:
Brush off snow - In the event of snowfall (a very rare, and alarming occurance here in Devon!), make sure to brush off snow that has settled on your plants, particularly the leaves. This is because prolonged exposure to such cold temperatures causes the cell walls to be compromised in some plants leaves, this in turn causes the leaves to wilt.
Cover tender shrubs in garden fleece - Wrapping tender shrubs and trees such as Cordyline's with garden fleece will greatly reduce the risk of frost damage. There are many different types of fleece and protection available but I would strongly recommend natural materials such as coconut fibre or wool as it is porous, retains heat and can be recycled very easily when no longer useable. Another option is polypropylene fleece ('horticultural fleece') as it again is porous and traps warmth well, however this is far lass environmentally friendly.
Avoid pruning when frost threatens - As tempting as it can be when we sense winter is nearly over and the sun is rising in the sky again, don't be in too much of a rush to prune things. Keep a vigilant eye on the weather forecasts and try to plan in advance to avoid frosts.
Pruning is certainly not off limits at the end of Winter, however, being caught out by a snap frost, or run of frosts, can cause significant damage to freshly pruned plants as the cells around the fresh cut can be compromised and this can quickly turn into damage that trails down the stem, otherwise known as 'die-back'.
Avoid walking on the lawn - During a frost the grass blades will be frozen stiff and are suseptable to damage. This means that walking on the lawn will break the blades and bruise them (as oppose to cleanly cutting them with a sharp mower blade) leading to blackened, damaged grass.
I hope this helps.