Winter in the gardens

banana plants at overbeck's in Salcombe, South Devon

Tucked up in their garden shed with cups of tea pouring over seed catalogues is how many visitors might imagine our gardeners in the chilly winter months. If only. This is a busy time for the team – planting, rebuilding, repairs, cleaning, and tree work are just for starters.

Up to Christmas the team will be planting. Here in the South Hams the soil is still warm and wet - ideal conditions for establishing new treasures. Next year, walk around the Look Out to see newly planted Acer, Magnolia and carpets of beautiful woodland plants.
Some of our less hardy plants will need to be carefully protected with bamboo umbrellas, bubble wrap or horticultural fleece. The succulents; cacti, agave and aloes will all have delicately constructed umbrellas over them to keep the worst of the rain off. They can take the wind and the cold but too much water and they’ll suffer. The banana plants enjoy being wrapped in fleeces to keep them warm and the ginger lilies, Dahlia and Colocasia love thick wood chip mulch over them. 
Other work will include rebuilding steps to the Olive grove, cleaning and treating 15 benches, taking out a couple of conifers at the end of the drive, cutting back the herbaceous plants, winter pruning vines, roses and wisteria and lots and lots of leaf blowing. 
In the office they’ll be busy working on garden information for visitors next year, and entering plant inventories into the plant database system. 
Finally in February when we open again the garden will show signs of spring with snowdrops, early Magnolia, primroses, cyclamen and bulbs starting to come through. Unlike many gardens, the tropical planting and evergreen woodland ensure that Overbeck’s stays lush and green all year round. 
Maybe then there will be a moment to peruse the catalogues but until then there is lots to be done.