Ask a Question forum: Any suggestions on a winter garden?

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Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Oct 14, 2016 7:39 PM CST
Hi, I was just interested on suggestions on plants that like the cold winter to keep my garden looking nice during the wintermonths, preferably colorful flowery plants or even something that grows edible fruit or veg that grows in winter time? any ideas?
[Last edited by AmberLeaf - Oct 14, 2016 7:39 PM (+)]
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Minnesota and Alaska (Zone 3a)
freezengirl
Oct 14, 2016 8:15 PM CST
I can't offer any specific ideas on plants since our climates are so different. However you have some of the worlds most drool worthy resources for gardening and landscaping (and historical sources) right in your own metaphorical backyard. My bookshelves are filled with wonderful UK gardening topic books (all in storage at the moment), most of them I found through our local library system, university bookstores and recommendations from other gardeners. Makes for great reading during our very long cold winters. Hurray! I am enclosing a link for the Royal Horticulture plant search that might be useful for you. They may not be exciting to look at but you can learn a lot just by playing around with different search terms. There are also wonderful UK gardening shows available online via youtube that I find awfully interesting and worth spending time watching especially when I am in danger of going bonkers waiting for spring.
https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/search-form
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
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William
Oct 15, 2016 3:06 AM CST
Helleborus are superb plants and have come a long way the past few years with many new cultivars and more up facing blooms. Not all of them blooms in the winter as some will wait for spring, but many will in a climate such as yours and they can have very ornamental variegated foliage as well.

Winter-flowering pansies. Lots of color.

Skimmia japonica has very nice buds over the winter, needs acid soil.

Some snowdrops can start to bloom very early and so can Cyclamen coum.

Hamamelis is an ornamental bush that blooms in the winter.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Oct 15, 2016 3:48 AM CST
Pansies are always good for cold months. Ornamental kale seems to survive. Lettuces grow well with some protection or inside. You can even dig up bell peppers and plant them in 2 gallon tubs in the south side windows of a house and replant them outdoors again in June. Coleus and impatiens will grow in Winter sunlight.
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener Foliage Fan
Sempervivums Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Native Plants and Wildflowers
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syzone8aUK
Oct 15, 2016 4:36 PM CST
Hi kevin. I found out lidl sold plants. I don't know anything about winter/fall gardening but i just randomly picked a colour collection pack today to try it out, i checked them up on the database they look nice.

Dutch Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis 'Delft Blue')

Single Early Tulip (Tulipa 'Purple Prince')

Grecian Windflower (Anemone coronaria 'Mr. Fokker')

Snow Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant')
Heat zone 1-2
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 15, 2016 7:12 PM CST
Those are all nice plants, Sy but they are fall-planted bulbs that will bloom in the spring. The windflowers and snow crocus will bloom fairly early but they are fleeting - a week or two at most then they're done for the year. The others will be lovely, but bloom later. The real beauty of bulbs is that they keep coming back year after year.

My vote for something that will start now and keep blooming unless the weather really freezes are winter pansies. You just need to keep the spent flowers picked off to keep them going and they will give lots of bright color for months. If you do get a forecast for below freezing temperatures, just go out and cover the plants with an old sheet, piece of burlap or even some cardboard just for the nights. (remove in daytime so the plants get light) It will trap warmth from the soil around the plants and keep them from freezing so they will keep on blooming for you well into the springtime.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener Foliage Fan
Sempervivums Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Native Plants and Wildflowers
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syzone8aUK
Oct 16, 2016 6:11 AM CST
Sorry my bad lol the pack says plant between september - december, well.. it doesn't actually say that... it just shows a diagram of bulbs and a trowel followed by ix-xii I assume that's what it means? Maybe not!?
Heat zone 1-2
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener Foliage Fan
Sempervivums Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Native Plants and Wildflowers
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syzone8aUK
Oct 17, 2016 7:05 AM CST
Hmm..elaine the bloom time states winter/spring i-v from january to may, the pack is directed at the uk so maybe the crocus and windflower would flower in winter here? I don't know! We have odd seasons here in the uk! We can have mild winters without frost and then snow in may, I believe the saying here is 4 seasons in the one day. I might take them back and change them but I really like the crocus.
Heat zone 1-2
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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William
Oct 17, 2016 7:59 AM CST
Very occasionally Snow Crocus can give nice color from January onward even here in the south of Sweden, so I'm sure it can provide lots of winter interests in the UK or Ireland, if planted in a warm spot. They may not open their blooms until there is some nice warmer weather, but they can show their buds for a couple of months if the weather stays favorable! There may be some differences between cultivars. Mine are all NOIDs, but I noticed the darker ones tend to bloom just a little later than the rest and the dark buds are a bit less visible in the gray winter light. Snow Crocus will however bloom earlier once established as they start to grow roots rather early in the autumn.

Anemone coronaria 'Mr. Fokker' is a superb little plant, unfortunately not completely hardy where I live and while its later than Snow Crocus and not a winter bloomer here, it can have a very long bloom period once established, all depending on weather. Once established it will also bloom earlier.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Oct 17, 2016 10:27 AM CST
Maybe you can try cabbages:
When I visited last Dec 2015 in Massachusetts, I saw these purple cabbage. Snow was a bit late that December, but temps were getting chilly then hovering at 32F to 40F:
Thumb of 2016-10-17/tarev/55cca6

Then back in California, on my morning walk, I saw our subdivision gardeners has planted same cabbages.
This photo taken in Feb 2016, late winter:
Thumb of 2016-10-17/tarev/e2a9e8

Then by March 2016, as weather warmed up here in Cali, saw the cabbages were in bloom, really lovely, more color!
Thumb of 2016-10-17/tarev/96393a

Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Oct 17, 2016 11:34 PM CST
What kind of garden do you have? Are you looking for temporary bedding or something more permanent like shrubs or perennials?
Try and visit one of the RHS gardens in winter and you'll get some great ideas for what looks good.
Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Oct 21, 2016 11:37 AM CST
Thanks for all your replies I shall look up all those plants mentioned and the links provided. The winters here in the UK I'd say are pretty mild, it doesn't snow but can get cold and windy where I am. My garden is very shaded by trees although once the leaves fall of the trees I should get more light. I have a very ugly wall in my garden which I've been thinking about growing some passion fruit plants to cover it but that will be in spring time.

I've noticed I have very good soil in my garden I've been doing an experiment with some seeds. I dug up some soil from my garden for some indoor pot plants and the seeds seem to grow a lot better in the soil from my garden than the potting compost I bought on ebay
[Last edited by AmberLeaf - Oct 21, 2016 11:41 AM (+)]
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Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Oct 24, 2016 10:36 AM CST
That compost I bought on ebay was awful I think I'll use the dirt from my garden in the future
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 24, 2016 11:17 PM CST
You don't want to use garden dirt in pots indoors, Kevin. First, you will bring bugs and other creepy-crawlies like slug and snail eggs in with it. Second, it doesn't ever have enough organic material in it to keep your plants from starving. It will compact, dry out like a brick and your plants will suffer, then die.

Go to a local nursery and buy some good quality potting compost from someone who knows something about gardening. Trust me, you'll be very glad you did, even if it costs a bit more.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Oct 26, 2016 9:20 AM CST
I'll think I'll do that, I'll see if I get time tomorrow and pick up some decent potting compost, the problem with ebay is you never truly know what your getting lol
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 26, 2016 9:47 AM CST
That's so true. Don't know if you have the option, but here we can give feedback if we buy something that isn't very good on eBay. It's your only recourse for bad sellers, and might save somebody else from wasting their money.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener Foliage Fan
Sempervivums Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Native Plants and Wildflowers
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syzone8aUK
Oct 26, 2016 9:59 AM CST
I agree. You don't want anything coming in.. in the soil! I bought some coconut coir a couple of years ago and I wouldn't change it for anything else! Its a good alternative to peat! Its light, its clean, its sustainable, it takes a very long time to decompose and unlike peat it is much easier to re-hydrate once dry! I buy it from pound stretchers it comes in a 10l compressed bricks for a couple of pound! Its a mixture of the coconut dust and fibres! I have noticed particularly the fibres! They are a good substrate for developing roots.
Just mix in some compost, a little bone meal and some perlite and your good to go.
Heat zone 1-2
Name: Kevin Langley
London UK
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AmberLeaf
Oct 26, 2016 10:31 AM CST
I've used those coconut bricks before for plants, I mainly use them in my reptile tanks. I can get plenty more of them, I didn't think there was much nutrition in that stuff... I'll get some potting compost as well, I go through a lot of compost as I'm always either re-potting or growing lots of other plants and seeds as well.
Name: sy
Northern Ireland (Zone 8a)
Region: United Kingdom Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds The WITWIT Badge Container Gardener Foliage Fan
Sempervivums Houseplants Cactus and Succulents Native Plants and Wildflowers
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syzone8aUK
Oct 26, 2016 10:47 AM CST
Yeah keith the coir does lack nutrients and i guess it all depends on what type of plants you grow!
Most of mine are cacti/succulent so they don't need large amounts of nutrients in the soil itself! Other plants like my chillies will have much paler leaves compared nutrient rich soil and need feeding more often when using coir! I love the bricks tho, so easy to work with! Just break a corner off and throw the rest back in the cupboard.. no mess. Smiling
Heat zone 1-2

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