To Compost or Not To Compost….?

Since the arrival of the frost last week a lot of perennials in the garden have now been given the nod that it’s time to go to bed, time to die back and then retreat to their underground root stocks, ready for their Spring explosion. So now your armed with the task of cutting back, what do you do with all the old foliage? Should you compost it? discard it? Or maybe even not touch it at all? Let’s take a look

So cutting back is always a therapeutic job, after a summer of growth exploding it’s quite nice to get back into your borders, cut the perennials back and then see the Winter structure remaining. Now firstly whether to cut them back or not its as simple as this, prioritise the spaces around your house to keep it nice and tidy, and here you will no doubt have elements of your borders to give Winter structure which you want to highlight, then with any of your planting further away form this house this is where you can leave them untouched, great for the overwintering insects and creepy crawlies, which will help you do battle against the bugs in the Spring, greenfly, whitefly and slugs!

So when you have bags full of clippings this is then the point of either filling the green bin, which is a perfectly fine option if you don’t have any space for a compost heap, but if you do have space then look at considering making your own compost. You’re not going to use what you make for filling your pots, but it is like gold dust when it comes to planting new plants, rich in nutrients and fibre for the plants, and when mixing into clay soils it helps open up and improve the structure. A simple heap at the bottom of the garden is all you need, and cut it up any thicker bits into smaller bits before putting it on and in just over a year you will have your very own home made compost!

It’s also worth being on the lookout for old flowering stems and seed heads when cutting back, the perfect counterpart to winter arrangements, and you can also use these in wreaths and garlands, giving a natural feel to compliment your winter foliage. Making a wreath can be a real skill and this Winter once again at the nursery we are hosting our wreath making workshops, with 6 dates throughout November and December starting on the 23rd November (visit to see the dates) it’s a perfect chance to learn this very English tradition, and its all systems go at the nursery as well preparing for our season of Christmas Markets, starting next Friday the 19th November. With artisan sellers from across the north in our Christmas Marquee and under The Living Roof  along with the magical displays across the nursery its going to be quite the spectacle and there’s nowhere quite like it!


Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

Are Skimmias good in pots?

They make the perfect Winter pot plants, either in a sunny or shady position. At this time of year they are laden with what looks like tiny red or green berries but they are actually their flower buds. These then develop and grow throughout the Winter months and then burst open in the Spring bearing the most delightful perfume. Then plant them out in the garden afterwards for the following years to come

What should I mulch my pots with?

Leaving the bare compost showing is just an invite for seeding weeds, you can use a smaller grade of bark like we top off all of our potted plants with, or Moss is also a perfect option, either sphagnum moss or flat green moss, it lives and grows along with giving a lovely timeless feel to your pots, also incorporate stems to give height to compliment any planting.

Should I mulch my borders now?

It’s a good time to put a bark mulch on as long as your happy with your planting, if there are plants to move around or new plants to add in then hold off until the Spring when you can sort your planting out at the same time. Its very much like laying the carpet, and a good bark mulch will last 3-4 years



1 –Weeding

It’s a good time to weed the beds for any small seeding weeds like Grass, Bittercress, Buttercups etc, you can then top up with a bark mulch afterwards

2– Tidy Climbing Plants

Fix eye hooks and wires into walls ready to tie climbers into, also preparing for their Spring growth, you can also trim back any long growth extensions

3 – Bulb Planting

The bulb planting season continues throughout November and December so it’s the perfect time to add some Spring colour along with getting great value for money, filling your borders and containers

4 – Cutting Back Perennials

Cut back perennials and compost the cuttings to make wonderful compost for years to come. There is no need to feed your cut back plants at this time of year, feed them with Vitax Q4 in March




Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo)

A beautiful shrub bearing delicate green leaves and colourful new growth, Great for a sunny or lightly shaded position and also perfect for in a pot for year round interest. Red and Yellow forms are available and some produce berries as well through the Winter