First frost was forecast so time to bring in the tender plants. This is in two stages for me, and takes a couple of days. I have a number of plants in the Exotic Garden which are in pots, plunged into the ground. These just need to be lifted and brought in – although the big ones need some effort to wrench them out of the ground.
When I plunge them, into their planting hole, in 1st week of June (after last frost and once it starts to warm up a bit) I put two ropes, knotted in the middle, under the pot so that I have a four-way cradle to winch them out of the ground with in the Autumn. I use an engine crane for this, and the plant releases with a significant “pop” as the roots that have grown out of the bottom of the pot give way.
I also have plants like tender Salvias which I just chuck in a pot and bring in for the Winter, here’s a photo of the Savlia amistad in full bloom
Its a bit of a performance at this time of the year as I have time in the Autumn, but come the Spring, when they start back into growth, there are a lot of other jobs seed raising, pricking out, and so on. So I take some extra time in the Autumn to pot them up, ready for Spring, rather than to just “store” them. I do the same for Dahlias [dry-ish compost] and Cannas, whereas the more conventional approach is to store them and then start them off in the Spring.
Here’s my one-man-work-party! for lifting tender plants ready for the Winter:
One barrow for the tops, that I cut down (and typically any other herbaceous plants that could do with cutting down too, although if frost is forecast I need to focus on getting things in, tidying the beds can be done later), another barrow with sieved home-made compost, which is all I use when potting them up, and a trolley to put the potted-up plants on.
I squeeze the plants into the smallest pot that will fit them, shaking off as much soil as possible. I want to keep the plants relatively dry during the winter, so the smallest pot and minimum amount of soil helps prevent anything rotting.
The area where the Salvias are planted has plenty of Spring flowering bulbs, and I tend to plant more each Autumn, and its always a pity to accidentally dig them up, so as an experiment this Autumn I have sunk a 2L pot in the space where each Salvia was lifted to mark that as a bulb-free-zone! I have quite a few Scilla peruviana which are in 2L pots (rather than being planted in the garden) because they are a bit tender and want good drainage, so my plan is to put then in the planting-holes after the worst of the February cold finishes and then at the start of June I can swap them for the Savlias again, or something else if I decide to have a change in that bed next year.