Gardeners’ World – November 2023

Dahlias were making a lovely show of colour until frost turned them black. A few in sheltered places survived and need to be left until they, too, turn black. I have been leaving them in the ground for the past few years and covering them with mulch, but last winter I lost them all. This year I will mulch those that survived last winter but also lift the new ones as a precaution.

Cut dahlias down to about 5 inches. Dig them up and turn them upside down to drain. When dry, pack them in boxes with a light covering of dry compost and store them in a frost-free place. Check over winter for signs of rot. Cut down perennials that have finished flowering, but leave interesting seed heads like phlomis; the finches enjoy their seeds. Divide plants and re-plant while the ground is still warm. Tulips need to be planted this month to avoid tulip fire, which shrivels their leaves and flowers. Narcissi and other bulbs should have been planted, but it is still not too late to get them in. Hydrangea heads are losing their colour but leave them to protect next year’s buds.