The winter garden is often ignored, a place to be avoided, with muddy lawns and soggy flower beds. With this lockdown however, has come a renewed interest in what we can do with our gardens in winter and how we can make the most of them. I for one am going to put more thought into my garden for how it can provide escape and interest for us next winter, maybe you will be doing the same? Now is the perfect time to take stock of your winter garden and plan changes that you want to see next year.
Benefits of the garden in winter
But first, why bother? Like many, I struggle with winter, the low light levels and miserable weather make me want to hibernate, draw the curtains and wait it out. But, with a lack of alternatives for getting out and about this winter, and working from home as well, the garden has been an escape from the locked-down family home! Getting a warm coat on and going for a 5 minute cuppa in the garden has given me the boost of energy and fresh air I needed to return to my desk, or home-school ,with renewed positivity – or at least a glimmer of it anyway! Its a pattern I easily slip into in the warmer months, so I shouldn’t really be surprised to find similar wellbeing benefits in the middle of winter.
A walk around the winter garden
One of the soothing parts being outside in a garden or park at anytime of year is stopping to notice the changes. I find it helps me to slow my thoughts down, getting back to a more natural rhythm, At this time of year, thats a lot about noticing the seasons passing and knowing that spring will arrive and things will feel much better when it does. Here are a few photos from my garden over the last month or so, things that I have stopped and noticed, and hopefully showing that the garden may be mostly dormant, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to see.
Where to plant.
To make the most of a the planting in winter its important to think about where to plant. I have a beautifully fragranced viburnum, but its planted away from the house tucked in a corner – I made a mistake – top tip – do the opposite to me! If you are planting for winter interest, select an area close to your house, visible from your windows and close to a path – you wont want to paddle over soggy lawn to admire that delicate bloom, trust me!
What to plant. My Top 5 plants for winter interest.
Hellebores – for me, the Queen of the winter garden. Lovely delicate looking flowers that stand up to even the harshest weather. There are so many different varieties available now there is bound to be one to suit your garden. The classic white, cream and purples are increasingly being joined by exotic hybrids like this collection of Helleborus orientalis from Gardening Express.
Viburnum – lots of different options but for winter days it has to be the lush evergreen foliage, pretty flowers and a delicate scent of this one – whats not to love. The photograph here is of my evergreen vibernum tinus, I also have a deciduous variety which smells amazing but comes into flower later on in the spring.
Jasmine – I have a couple of Star Jasmine whos glorious foliage burns bright through the winter, they have taken a few years to establish in my garden, but now they have settled in they look lovely. Alternatively there is the winter flowering Jasmine to give a cheerful splash of yellow on a dark day. You could choose this ‘Jasminium nudiflorum’ from Primrose for example.
Snowdrops – many and varied but all of them are celebrated – the first flowers of spring. I love the simplicity of drifts of snowdrops, planted en masse under trees and shrubs, they are simply stunning. Plant a few clumps ‘in the green’ when this year and they will quickly get established – and, for a bit of inspiration, one of the best snowdrop gardens near me is Hodsock Priory near Doncaster – definitely worth a visit if you get the opportunity next year.
(Picture credit – Hodsock Priory)
Dogwoods with their bright red bark give a dramatic edge to a winter scene. This is a plant I intend to add to my garden this year in readiness for next winter. Maybe one like this I spotted on offer today!
Winter project – paths
As well as wandering about drinking tea, I have also started a couple of winter projects. My dad always did any landscaping or repairs in winter, and I am starting to follow more and more in his footsteps. This year I am improving some of my paths to make my winter wanders a bit more pleasing underfoot next winter. I’ll update on progress on Social Media as I go!
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