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Gardeners' Cuttings

A group of rose 'Zephirine Drouhin' growing at Sissinghurst Castle Garden
A group of rose 'Zephirine Drouhin' growing at Sissinghurst Castle Garden | © National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

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Winter musings

There is a comfort to be found in the routines of gardening, a quieter side that often gets overlooked. It is as the days get colder and darker and the garden demands to be treated more gently, we are remined of its importance.  

Winter is a time to be thoughtful and to observe. We have been reflecting on past notes and future visions, re-jigging plants and self-sown seedlings, making space for new introductions and ensuring adequate care is given to historical plants. Rules and routines don’t always apply, sometimes we draw on intuition and creativity. Gardening in this way feels wonderfully liberating. 

Winter forces a slowing down within the body of the garden. Unlike Spring where you can barely turn your back before woosh and something new comes into flower; the garden’s changes are far more subtle. The bony structure of trees become increasingly evident as leaves form pools at their base. Some of these leaf pools are particularly mesmerising; Euonymus alatus which stands just before the Herb Garden gave a riotous display of colour leaving jewels all shades of pink scattered on the soil below. There is something so generous about a plant entering its dormancy in this way.

These leaves make protective quilts for hibernating insects and contribute a nutritious layer for the microbes within the soil which will subsequently become food for the tree from which they came.

It seems recent rain has welcomed numberless worms to the surface, which in turn invite birds to feast before they head to hiding from the cold. The plants are thrilled too, drinking up, thirsty after another Summer of dry.

Winter can be hard for gardens and gardeners alike. Frosts bite buds and fingertips and our bodies yearn to be tucked away like bulbs until Spring. Yet, the gentleness of the garden, the way it accepts change and provides a restorative moment of relative pause should not be underestimated.


Rose Pruning in the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle
Rose Pruning in the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle | © National Trust Images/Cassie Dickson