After the pomp and productivity of summer, late autumn and early winter herald a more reflective time of year for gardeners. 

The colder months present an opportunity to celebrate successes and feel good about what’s been achieved. Lessons can be learned from what worked and what didn’t, and decisions made for the next growing season. Taking stock is positive and empowering. 

Reasons to keep gardening…
While there’s less to grow now, there are still enough ways to maintain the connection with our growing spaces and keep benefiting from all the ways gardening can boost our physical and mental health. 

Making space in busy lives to spend some regular time in a garden will be a powerful tonic to the troubles of energy prices, fuel shortages and the like.  

Every day at Thrive, we see the beneficial therapeutic effects being in nature has on our client gardeners, who have a wide range of disabilities and long-term health conditions. These effects include feeling calmer and less anxious. 

Things to do…
Just because it’s getting colder doesn’t mean there isn’t anything practical to do. Getting wrapped up and doing some gardening can be good for the body as well as the mind. 

Prepare empty vegetable beds for the next growing season by adding a layer of garden compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil. Then cover with cardboard or black plastic to stop weeds growing during winter. 

As temperatures tumble, some potted plants will need shelter to survive. Succulents, such as aeoniums and agaves should be moved to a greenhouse and covered with horticultural fleece when frost is forecast. 

For a dose of positivity and something to look forward to next spring, planting tulip bulbs is hard to beat and November is the time to do it. Plant them in pots or borders at two to three times their own depth on a layer of grit to prevent rot. 

Move pots of herbs to sheltered spots, such as up against a wall. Herbs in terracotta pots need to be moved inside to prevent frost damage to the pot, but if they are too heavy to move, wrap them well with insulating material. 

Looking for more inspiration to enjoy gardening and nature? 
This November, Thrive is producing a free downloadable calendar with 30 days of quick and simple activities to help support health and wellbeing.  

Visit: www.thrive.org.uk/autumn to get your free copy and further details. 

More:
Mark Lang works for the gardening-for-health charity, Thrive. For more practical tips and information about gardening for wellbeing, sign-up to Thrive’s free Gardening Club:  

www.thrive.org.uk/gardeningclub