The weather forecasts say the temperature will drop to freezing in Berlin at the weekend, so I made use of the last (?) days of mild weather to prepare the balcony for the chill.

First of all, the boring task of clearing debris: wilted clematis tendrils, neglected verbenas, spent ivy geraniums in the balcony boxes and a few of the herbs too woody to be worth saving. Two bags full – and a lot of sweeping (this would be the one time of year I don’t envy people with gardens).

The wooden decking tiles have been given a wash and a coat of oil and are now stored against the wall under the shelf for protection.

Most of my zonal pelargoniums are lovingly propagated from cuttings smuggled over from Sweden and it would be a shame to throw them all away. I’ve taken some more cuttings to be on the safe side, but I am also attempting outdoor winter storage for four of the healthiest looking plants. These have been placed in boxes filled with insulating polystyrene on the shelf by the wall. On the other side of that wall is a radiator – I’m hoping some of the heat will permeate and help keep the temperature below freezing. I have then insulated the shelf with various materials: more polystyrene, a blanket, some magazines, a length of felt and then – as you can see – covered the  outside with bubble wrap. Fingers crossed for happily hibernating pelargoniums!

The hardier plants have been given double pots to help protect the root balls. I’ve used larger plastic pots that housed tomato and nasturtium plants in the summer, and filled the space inbetween with insulation. The lavender also has a coconut fibre disc to further protect the soil surface, and the clematis a hessian sack, pulled up around the sensitive lower stem.

Some of the herbs are still going strong. The rosemary had to be transplanted and brought inside, but the biennal parsley in its deep pot will stay outside and should hopefully yield a little more growth next year.

(The rectangular terracotta planter in the picture is hiding crocus and giant snowdrop bulbs for spring).