Get outside in the garden this winter and be rewarded with a great sense of achievement and connection with nature. The garden in winter can be surprisingly full of life and on crisp sunny days it’s always a relief for me to be out and about.
It’s a great time to review your planting choices, especially if you have managed to make notes during the summer of what works and what might need some adjustment. For example in the garden pictured above both my client and I agreed that the catmint (Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’) and the Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina) which had been so successful the previous year planted in large drifts, had begun to overwhelm other species in certain areas, and would need to be curbed for this coming season. Not all flower stems and grass foliage left for winter interest makes it through the whole season of course, and once any material which has succumbed to wind, rain or frost has been removed and your borders are looking suitably refreshed and perhaps even orderly, this is the time when questions of division and reduction can be assessed. It may not be the best time to actually carry out the work (summer flowering perennials should be divided in March or April, spring flowerers are often best split in summer after they have flowered), but it is certainly a great time to plan and timetable what is to be done. I often find myself casting a critical eye over the balance within borders at this time of year - are there enough evergreen and/or shrubby plants and are they in the right position to create a good visual balance, could it be improved without affecting the exuberance of your spring and summer colour? Now is the time when these issues are clearest to see.
It’s also when we can really appreciate the value and importance of those bold textured evergreens, such as Viburnum davidii or V. rhytidophyllum, as well as those with persistent fruits or those which manage to flower despite the cold and dark. I have hellebores throwing out a few tentative blooms right now, and one of my favourite plants, the silver-leaved evergreen Convolvulus cneorum, hasn’t stopped sending out flowers in small bursts all year! I was sourcing trees for my Chelsea Flower Show garden in Germany earlier this week and came across half a field full of Malus (ornamental crab apple) species - the effect en masse on a dark day is truly stunning.
I’m aiming to write a piece about some of my favourite plants for winter interest soon so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested, and if you want you can like and/or share this piece which would be really great - thank you!