“There’s nothing to look at in winter”: Garden dilemmas and how to solve them

January is a month many people start to look once again at their gardens, often with dismay. The chaos of the holidays can be unforgiving with our time, and the weather doesn’t help with gardening motivation. Gardening expert Kendra Wilson has written a new book, My Garden is a Car Park: and other Design Dilemmas, with advice from gardeners to tackle all little and big problems people with gardens might face, including what to do over winter. Here are some solutions they offer...

frosty-gardenRhubarb in terracotta forcers

1. Take stock
Use winter as a chance to step back and take stock of your garden space. With the leaves and greenery gone, take a look around and decide how you want to arrange the space for the coming seasons. If you’re an outdoors in any weather person, take the chance to plant trees, bushes, hedges and lay paths.

2. Planning winter plants
If you prefer to experience the garden from the other side of the window, Kendra says there are plenty of plants that thrive in the limelight of frosty winter sun which might be for you. The grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' and thorny red pyracantha look beautiful in winter, and other all year plants that shine this season are holly, cotoneaster’s black and red tracery, witch hazel’s orange tipped branches and winter honeysuckle, as well as winter-flowering cherry. Your efforts planting these varieties will reward you with a view to cherish in the cold months.

winter-gardenRed-orange stems of Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' after the leaves have dropped off

3. Garden structure
Creating good garden structure means planning not only for summer but considering what the garden will look like all year round. If you haven’t planned this, take a look now at the lighting effects of low sunshine and frost and think about future plans.

4. Preparing for spring
A few simple steps in winter will ensure an attractive garden throughout the frosty season and a garden ready for spring. Cut plants down as they start to collapse, rather than while they are still looking interesting. Mow the lawn at the beginning of winter in readiness for spring bulbs and mulch the flower beds and vegetable patch.

berriesRed pyracantha against a winter sky

5. Winter veg
Kitchen gardens can also come alive through winter: rhubarb can be grown without light in terracotta forcers and under overturned pots. Winter vegetables include parsnips, purple-sprouting broccoli, spinach and some lettuces; these veg will withstand the frosty weather and can be harvested throughout the season.

My Garden is a Car Park: and other Design Dilemmas by Kendra Wilson is published by Laurence King and out soon.

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Annabel Sheen

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