OK maybe winter gardening is not much fun when the temperature drops below 10°C, but it can be very rewarding if you wrap up warm and just get yourself out there.
When planning a garden, it is always important to think about how it will look all-year-round, not just spring/summer when it’s in full bloom. Try and take into consideration what trees and shrubs will add to the autumn/winter landscape, will they keep their leaves, do you want them to change colour during autumn etc.
Include trees and shrubs with berries on them such as a Crabapple and this way you’ll not only provide food, but also some much needed shelter for birds. Evergreens are always naturally top of my list too. You just can’t beat evergreens for winter beauty when the branches are heavily laden with snow.
If you think you can’t garden in winter you are very much mistaken. So, maybe the flowers aren’t in full bloom, but the colours of mother nature are still all there. Winter landscapes can look very bleak and monotone, especially here in the UK when generally the skies are grey.
Colour in our garden will disappear with the autumn leaves and you have to wait until spring before you see them again. However, there are still many ways to keep a little colour in your garden, even during the British winter.
You want to look at planting a selection of small evergreens and seasonally attractive plants for the autumn & winter period and this way you can add a spot of interest to patio planters, baskets and window boxes.
The yellow winter jasmine for example would be Lazy Susan’s first choice, but you could also look to add any of the following (and whilst not a comprehensive list, this is what is flourishing in our showroom garden at this time of year):
- Large Shrubs
Cornus mas ‘Variegata’; Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’; Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’; ‘Pallida’; Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’; Arum italicum ‘Pictum’; Prunus Autumnalis Rosea.
- Medium Shrubs
Abeliophyllum distichum; Corylopsis pauciflora; Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’; Viburnum tinus ‘Gwenllian’; Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Garnet’; Sarcocca ‘Christmas Box’; Ilex aquifolium ‘Alaska’
- Wall Shrubs
Azara microphylla; Clematis balearica ‘Wisley Form’; Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ and ‘Omoi-no-mama’; Azara microphylla
- Small Plants
Helleborus Ballard’s strain black seedlings; Pulmonaria ‘Mawson’s Blue’; Ribes laurifolium; Viola ‘Coeur d’Alsace’; Garrya elliptica; Mahonia x media ‘Charity’; Choisya ternata; Mahonia Japonica Hivernant; Helleborous Orientalis ‘Lenten Rose’; Daphne Bholua Jaqueline Postill; Sarcococca confusa; Eranthis hyemalis; Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’; Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’; Jasminum nudiflorum; Clivia
One of the first things you should know is when to plant your plants, seeds or bulbs. Generally, if you want plants to start sprouting during the winter, then you’ll have to plant them anytime from mid-summer to late autumn/early winter.
As we’ve already missed the boat for this winter, I wanted to get this blog post up now (while its front of mind) so that you can really plan and think about next year. However, there are also a few sneaky ways around this too…
Especially as so far 2011/2012 has been a relatively mild winter so far (especially in contrast to 2010/2011. We’ve not seen too much frozen ground this year, so it will be easier for you to plant things now without having your work cut out for you.
If you really want to keep your garden growing and blooming through the British winter, whether it contains vegetables, herbs, flowers or other plants, then the best solution is to build a raised bed garden that is built above the ground, rather than directly on the ground.
By building a simple raised frame-like structure your soil will stay warm and dry, so the plants are less likely to freeze and there’ll be significantly less chance of any disease or root decay.
A couple of other excellent solutions that aid winter gardening (and that we swear by in our garden) are to make use of container gardening and a good greenhouse. Container gardening can involve the typical pots, though for winter glazed ceramic pots with several drainage holes are the best choice in our experience.
Other pots can crack and break, rot, or warp and deteriorate when the temperature drops below freezing. As for the humble greenhouse, you can now purchase reasonably cheap, simple to install and eco-friendly kits from any leading garden centre or DIY store.
Winter may be a time of hibernation for many animals, but that’s no excuse for our green thumbs to do the same, so lets get out in the ‘fresh’ air and get busy. To put it simply, winter is a great time of year to get out in the garden and in amongst all those show off winter flowering plants.
It can be just as pleasurable and exciting as gardening at any other time of the year, you just have to pick your days when the weather is a little more favourable before you venture outside. So here’s to long johns we say!