Catkins are fabulously important additions to our gardens providing crucial nectar supplies for the bumble bees. The long lambs tails on the Hazel bushes are a winter delight and an absolute picture when coated with icy frost.
There are some amazing plants out there that are interesting all year round. I don't think there is anything that actually flowers all year but there are some wonderful evergreen foliages, colurful bark and flushes of berries. Here is a quick flash of some of the largely evergreen plants we recomend, it's a useful list.
Some of the best winter colour is not in flowers but in bark,foliage and stems like these amazing varieties of cornus (dog wood)
Cornus is easy to grow surviving in heavy clay, poorly aerated soils and some degree of winter water logging. I found it a very tolerant plant to actual dog damage as I did have 4 excitable border collies charging round my garden here at the Nurseries. Cornus survived where other plants diminished.
Whilst it is a strong plant the trick to keeping it nice is to prune it very hard and don't let the stems cross. It doesn't need fussy pruning I have often hacked it back at the wrong time of growth and its so strong it will be fine.
As true winter hardy gardeners we know there are some very beneficial outdoor hands on winter jobs from which your garden will truly benefit this month. Many suggested gardening task lists may seem limited to preparatory jobs and whilst these are important, I urge you to get your wellies on grab a spade and show that wheel barrow some action. A gardeners work is never done. We have had the shortest day so herald spring is on its way and lets be ready.
Special edition Garden Illustrated Magazine is on the shelves for sale now. Preston Bissett is comended as one of the top 26 Nurseries. The Nurseries all round the world are recomended by top British Garden Designers.
A big thank you to Kate Gould, a celebrated Chelsea Gold medal winner in 2017. We are on page 20.
We had snow in places this week. Thankfully its not due to last, I hope and think it will soon turn a little milder but every winter we need to be prepared for bad weather. When the cold arrives and sometimes it's just a little bit too cold for some plants. Often it is the combination of wet and severe cold that is damaging. This is usually worse in poorly drained heavy clay soils. The joy of English gardens is the cosmopolitan variety of plants we grow, Japonicas from Japan, Orientalis from Asia. We grow many New Zealand plants, lots from a Mediterranean regions and so forth. It is not surprising some cope better with extremes than others and I find it helpful to know something of where plants originate.
Grumbles about winter gardens are not justified. The fault lies firstly with us and our fair weathered nature. We shop when its warm and buy what we see in flower in May and June and miss the winter flowers. Go shopping on a mid winters day and you will then appreciate we have colour all winter. The second responsibility for this travesty is Monty Donn and the Beechgrove team as they stop broadcasting in November, thus implying the garden is closed until spring.
Winter is the sadly forgotten season and yet there is an array of fabulous colour in the plant world. Much of it free colour by that I mean we are not waiting for a flower. The light is low and rich tones radiate from the leaves and foliage comes in a multitude of shades. Red leaves, trimmed margins, variegated, some very interesting speckled shades where a virus have been introduced to change the colour as well as all variety of greens, silvers and yellows. There are lots of new foliage plant varieties well worth a try. Just as technology moves forward the plant industry is rapidly breeding new varieties of interest.
If you plan spring bulbs well and its not hard, your bulbs can begin in Februrary and take you into June when the summer bedding takes over.
Spring bulbs are planted from September all except tulips they wait until November. That means plant your snowdrops, dafodills, narcissi, hyacynths, sillas, iris, crocus, alliums, fritillarias, muscari, camassias etc to enjoy next spring.