The Experts Guide to Winter Gardening
Keeping your garden looking radiant and healthy during the Winter months can be challenging due to the lack of sun, natural light and warmth. Tending to your garden as the temperature drops can also be a challenge as naturally you’ll want to spend less time outside and more time cozied up with a cup of tea instead!
Well don’t worry, we’ve asked a selection of gardening experts about how to keep your garden looking fresh and colourful during the cold, winter months so you’ll never neglect your garden in winter again!
Check out their top tips below:
“Feed your plants with root booster (mycorrhizal fungi) when you plant up, for long-lasting feed to keep your plants looking good and help them survive throughout Winter.”
Michael’s favourite winter plants: Garden Girls, Heathers, Primroses, Pansies and Violas
“The corms are best planted in September, but as long as you get them in before the end of October they’ll be fine. Plant just below the surface of the soil, and they’ll sort themselves out. They multiply quite fast, so when the flowers have finished then you can thin out and replant any large clumps.”
Claire’s favourite winter plants: Cyclamens. They come in all sorts of different colours and create a fabulous carpet of colour in flower beds from now until early spring.
Jane Harries Gardens
Social: Jane Harries Garden Designs
“Scent is my winter secret. Some plants have scented flowers this time of year to get noticed by pollinators. Winter-flowering honeysuckle has a lovely sweet scent, and sarcococca has neat evergreen leaves and strings of little white scented flowers. Put them near a seat or near your entry path, to cheer you up every day.”
Jane’s favourite winter plants: Evergreen plants give you something to look at – I have a golden privet that lights up my back wall all winter, viburnum tinus with its green leaves and white flowers in winter is a boon and Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has bunches of pink scented flowers.
“Don’t do too much tidying in the garden – seed heads, rotting wood, fallen twigs and leaves, along with other things you might consider ‘unsightly’ provide valuable food and shelter for a huge range of wildlife.”
“One of the best tips for winter is to have evergreen topiary plants in the garden, such as Yew, Holly and Copper Beech. They give shape and structure throughout the winter when many other plants have faded away.
These plants are permanent, so no need to buy new seasonal plants and they look better as they grow.”
Jill’s favourite winter plants: Japanese Maples have wonderful vibrant colours in autumn and early winter, and their dark branches make beautiful shapes through winter.
My top tip would be to plant scented shrubs near the path you usually use or near your front door and to plant loads of bulbs – early flowering daffs, crocus, snowdrops, etc – where you can see them from indoors to cheer you on those dark February days.
Samantha’s favourite winter plants: Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’,Salix alba, and trees with gorgeous bark that really stands out, such as Prunus serrula and Betula utilis var. Jacquemontii or albosinensis. Ornamental grasses add great structure in winter with the added benefit of places for insects to overwinter. And don’t forget scent – Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is heavenly, as are many of the witch hazels (Hamamelis), Sarcococca confusa and Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which you can smell from afar. Not forgetting Hellebores, Iris reticulata, snowdrops… There is so much you can add to your garden for winter interest!
Save bubble wrap from parcels and use it to wrap up your outdoor containers. This will help to prevent the soil freezing and expanding, which can damage roots and crack your pots.
Catherine’s favourite winter plants: I love daphnes, they’re ideal for small gardens and will deliver colourful blooms and gorgeous fragrance in the depths of winter. Winter-flowering clematis is also brilliant for adding colour and interest above ground level. It’s a good idea to grow them against a house wall to give them some shelter, this also makes it easy to enjoy them indoors.
Cover your pots with bubble wrap so the roots of your plants aren’t sitting in frozen water. for long periods.
Dan’s favourite winter plants: Snowdrops have to be my favourite winter plants. They’ll grow well in pots too if they’re given the right care.
To really give your winter garden the edge, mulch it heavily with compost, even old multipurpose compost. It gives a clean finish to bare beds, smothers weeds and protects more tender plants from hard frosts – just don’t heap it right around plants, as some may rot.
Mandy’s favourite winter plants: For easy winter colour and structure, aim for plants with interesting evergreen leaves or colourful bark and berries. What could be more seasonal than holly? Plant Silver Queen (dark green leaves edged with silver and purple stems) and Golden King (yellow-edged grey-green leaves and red berries) together or near each other to ensure berries. You can’t beat the dogwoods (Cornus) for coloured bark, ranging from red, black, lime to the shaded orange-red of my favourite, Midwinter Fire.
The Middle Sized Garden
It’s important to leave some leaves and ornamental grasses in your borders to provide shelter for wildlife, so don’t tidy all your plants up too much in the winter. But it is a good time to plant trees and shrubs, provided the ground isn’t frozen. It’s also the best time to prune most deciduous trees (trees which lose their leaves in winter), but check specific pruning instructions for each tree.
The Middle Sized Garden’s favourite winter plants: The best plants for keeping your garden looking good in winter are very structural evergreens, such as topiary cones, balls and spirals. Box is usually the best plant for this, but box blight and the box tree moth caterpillar are now causing many box problems in the UK, so use yew or pittosporum instead.
Plants Bulbs Seeds
Prune/cut back any dead plant debris- rotting plant material can harbour diseases and viruses.
Dig out perennial weeds. Add a layer of mulch -3 inches (compost, bark chips, leaf mulch) to beds and borders to protect plants from frost, it will also help to keep weeds to a minimum.
Protect non-hardy plants with fleece/hessian. My best tip? Take a break, sit out with a cuppa. Taking stock of all that is good with your garden and the outdoors.
Plants Bulbs Seeds favourite winter plants: Choose a good selection of evergreen shrubs and winter flowering plants such as Euonymus ’emerald gold’, Skimmia or variegated Holly that will give the added colour of bright red berries. Winter shrubs provide colour as well as form and height. Heuchera, hellebores and late winter bulbs provide colour in the front of borders. Plant up containers with winter flowering plants and grasses.