Here are some top tips to keep your garden looking great whatever the season
Winter may not seem like the time to think about your garden. But take advantage of a break from the growing season to catch up on other jobs such as protecting plants from severe cold, decorating the patio for Christmas or planning a winter garden for next year.
It’s also time to evaluate your garden for winter colour. There’s nothing like winter flowering plants to lift your spirits during the colder months. Shrubs such as winter flowering jasmine, cornus and snowberry offer colour at a time when you need it most. Early bulbs such as snowdrops and crocus will even pop up through a shallow covering of snow.
And, just because its winter doesn’t mean you can’t have fresh food from the garden. Greens such as lettuce along with winter crops including kale and Swiss chard can be grown in a cloche or cold frame. Many root crops and brassicas will overwinter for a spring harvest.
When decorating your home for Christmas, don’t forget about sprucing up your patio or decking area. Use evergreen branches and berries from the garden to create wreaths, garlands or displays for doorways, winter containers and window boxes. Outdoor fairy lights can add the finishing touches.
It may be winter in the garden but there are still a few jobs for the seasoned gardener this month.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
It’s getting even colder – frost, rainfall and winds are increasingly common, sunshine hours are much reduced and it can be bitter with a risk of snow. You may not want to be working outside at this time of year, but luckily there’s not a lot to do. Keep an eye on winter protection, and if you have a greenhouse, make sure the heater works. It’s time to think about pruning apples and pears too.
Protect perennial plants from severe winter weather. Mulch your borders with 5cm of compost, leaf mould or well-rotted manure. Mulching has many benefits – it insulates roots and tubers against frost, enriches the soil and boosts nutrient levels. It also encourages worms, which aerate the soil and will give your plants a great start next spring. Bring some colour to your garden by planting up empty containers with evergreens and winter-flowering plants such as pansies, cyclamen and winter heathers. Remove leaves from lawns, patios, borders and ponds, and clear off any winter debris too. This keeps the garden looking tidy and also healthy – rotting vegetation can harbour pests and diseases.
David Domoney TV gardener and presenter
Winter prune large fruit trees to control their shape and size and increase their productivity and you can start planning next year’s crops and order the necessary seeds. Plant bare-root roses and other deciduous shrubs this month and have a clear out of the garden shed, not forgetting to organize and clean your garden tools.