It’s that time of the year again when the patio is cleared for winter. At the best of times this is a heavy job but this year was worse. Aside from the record numbers of pots I’d collected, the first pot I was clearing revealed a load of chafer bug grubs in the soil. So I sifted through the rest of the soil and turfed them all out. I checked the next pot along and it was the same. I then looked down the long double-row of waiting pots and grimaced, some choice words may have been said.
There is nematode treatment for chafer bugs and I might look to apply that for any bugs I missed in Spring, but for the winter prep, I went for the nuclear option and have spent the last couple of weeks turning out each pot and going through the soil to clear out any nasties. Some of the smaller pots were so bad the contents went straight into the compost bin.
I’m finally getting towards the end of the endless array of pots and the greenhouse is packed to the roof with plants that will be overwintering inside. There are still some pots left but I don’t want to clear these just yet as they’re still flowering. I’m still seeing bees use them and so I can’t bring myself to clear away their increasingly scarce food source as we advance into winter. These will go when the last flower dies. While there are odd, small pockets of flower out in the rest of the garden, it’s not as easy as having all laid out for you in buffet-style pots.
A piece of prep-work that I did earlier for the patio clearance was to label and take a photo of each pot and write down what I wanted to do with it. Pots with dead/dormant plants all look the same, so doing this in late summer was very useful to help remember whether I wanted to clear, keep, re-plant, divide or other for the pot contents. It was fun to do the first 10 labels, the next 20 were OK, but it got really tedious after writing 99 labels. We cross over to 101 labels if I include the hanging baskets. This doesn’t include the staging pots either.
It has been rather satisfying taking the label from each pot and ticking it off the list once I prepped the pot for winter (including getting rid of those pesky bugs). Once the patio is clear, I still need to deal with how to level it, ready for potential future open days. The work on and for this patio never seems to let up, but it is a stunning feature of the garden so I can’t really grumble too much.