This is the time of year when all the gardening columns are giving advice about shutting the garden down for the winter. One burning question is- do we ned to go to the trouble of lifting dahlias and storing them indoors? If you’ve got only a few choice specimens you’d be mad not to lift them, as the effort is minimal and once they’re inside they don’t need any attention until the spring, not even watering and you can be confident that they’ll be free from harm. But when, like me, you have hundreds, it’s a major chore and there’s a big temptation to leave them in the ground and take the risk. But the danger isn’t just from frost- in our garden there are mice, squirrels, moles and badgers to contend with, as well as the danger of the tubers rotting away in water logged soil. And even if they survive the pests, the frosts and the damp the plants will be slow to emerge and unlikely to flower before July. So for us the effort is worth it- and if we put the tubers in the cold frame in March we can take plenty of cuttings and get them planted out with some already in bloom by the end of May. As this photo shows, they have some rather splendid quarters in which to while away the winter.