What the gardeners are up to...
Winter is a time for pruning, planting, tree work, mulching, and getting excited about new seed catalogues as planning takes place for the coming year.
Annual rose prunings happen at places like Mottisfont. If you visit the walled gardens in winter you'll see gardeners out in all weathers tackling this task. An intense period of work helps places to prepare for the spectacular displays in early summer.
Homemade compost is spread throughout the rose gardens and kitchen gardens. This will feed the soil, help with water retention, reduce outbreaks of disease and increase the natural production of beneficial fungi.
Gardening tips for the winter
Preparing your garden for the frostier season can be made easier with the right preparation. Megan Pearson, gardener at Dunham Massey, shares her thoughts:
- In winter, trees can be planted and most shrubs and trees can be pruned to help define shape and height
- Mulching beds and borders around plants is a productive early winter task to help insulate the soil and to improve the condition of the soil
- Don’t attempt to be too tidy in the garden in winter – there may be wildlife hibernating in piles of leaves
- If you have a greenhouse, seeds can be started off in trays in late winter/early spring to start initial growth ready for planting out in the coming seasons
- Don't cut back all ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials in autumn, but leave attractive dead seed heads and flowers standing which is both beneficial for overwintering insects and can be aesthetically pleasing in winter light. Leaving some woodier stems standing such as penstemons can actually help protect the crown of the plant from winter frosts
- Lift tender plants in late autumn, such as dahlias, and keep them in a cool, dry area to protect them during the winter months.