Some timely advice from Gardening for Ladies by Jane Loudon (1840)
"The Dahlias, if not all killed by the frost the preceding month, should now be taken up; and the greenhouse plants being all removed, the ground should be dug over, having previously received a good dressing of vegetable mould. The half hardy plants are now closely covered up with furze, or baskets of wickerwork ; over which mats are thrown in severe frosts, and coal-ashes and moss are put over the roots of those plants which are only a little tender. The turf is mowed once during this month, if the weather should be open; and the gravel walks seldom require any attention."
What's 'furze' you may ask? It's another name for gorse – not something that many of us either have or want in our gardens. But wickerwork baskets! What a lovely idea for covering tender plants in the winter – and they are available. Here are some from Andrew Crace that could be easily covered with fleece on the coldest of days.
Coal ash is something that Jane would have had plenty of but it isn't such a good idea to put it straight on the garden soil. Wood ash is much better. And any handy moss would make a lovely warm coat for protecting anything slightly tender. Dare I try it with my Salvia patens?