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Shorter years

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I remember my grandmother telling me that as she was getting older, she felt the years got shorter. This year more than any other has felt like that for me. How an earth is it November already? At this point, you might be wondering why I mention this in my musings that are ostensibly about gardening. Well, here is my reason, and my confession. All of the things I mentioned for you to do in last month's October musings, I am still doing in November!

In my defence, we had not had a hard killing frost in Church Minshull when I last typed. My blackened dahlias stood like soldiers waiting for attention. Luckily for me, the November weather is being kind. We have had some glorious bright days where to be honest in the last week I feel I have achieved more in the garden than I did all summer.

Bare root roses and peonies planted, and I am through lifting all the dahlias. The labelling is going badly though. Some years I am totally organised and some years not. This year is falling into the later category so I have decided to plant them out in colour blocks next year, oranges, reds, whites, purples and mixes of every colour in between. The key thing with dahlias is to ensure they are not too dry or too damp when they are over wintered. Some of our gardening friends who live further south leave them in the ground. They might survive with a good buck of compost on their heads but why would you risk losing them is my thought? I lift them, knock off most of the soil but not all of it (some wash them but I think it gets them damp again), then leave them to to dry for a week in the house. Obviously I am very popular at this point. Then I put in good cardboard boxes in dry compost or wood shavings, or a mix of the 2 and store in a cool dry place. This method ensured my dahlias survived the beast from the east last year when they were stored in the garage.

Once I have added some well needed compost to the cleared dahlia beds, I will be planting out my ranunculus. These beautiful flowers have petals stacked like thin sheets of exquisite paper and are known as the rose of spring. They do need a bit of protection over the winter to survive but they are so worth the effort.

And remember to pile your leaves into your compost bins, preferably run over my the lawn mower to make them compost even faster. In the spring, you will have some glorious black gold for your beds.

So when it's dark when you wake, dark when you are having tea, just generally dark, my thinking is to get out in the air and plant a few things, for there is nothing like the hope of spring to keep you going.

Learn more about Kathryn's wild garden style floristry at fierceblooms.com