It’s not difficult to put the garden to bed for Winter: it’s mostly a case of covering everything, and making sure everything’s clean and tidy for a winter’s rest before blooming again in the summer. Plants become dormant over winter, so make sure that any blackened foliage and detritus is cleaned away to prevent the risk of disease, or providing food and shelter for pests.
It may seem that a dormant plant isn’t active, but that’s not true: until it freezes, the soil still harbours a lot of activity, even when the temperature drops. New plants, trees and shrubs are still growing their roots, as well as hardier bulbs. Soil should still be fertilised to keep these plants happy. Snow and rain will likely provide all the moisture they need. Don’t forget to add a little mulch, as the mulch you spread in summer has decomposed. Spread a good, thick layer to protect your plants and soil for the Winter. Convert any fallen tree leaves left over from Autumn into mulch, and make sure the layer isn’t so thick as to make the frozen soil too warm – this mulch is, in fact, keeping the soil frozen.
Gather your year-end seeds, put them aside, and plant them in a few months, when Spring comes back around.
Snow is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to plants: light snow cover can insulate the soil beneath it in the same way winter mulch does, but heavy falls can weight down evergreen branches, making it likely they’ll break. Knock snow from your evergreens, lower branches first, working your way up, to prevent the lower branches being overweighed with snow. If you find that some lower branches are already bowed by snow, allow the snow to melt gently rather than knocking it off. Doing so will release the branch slowly.