Monday, 6 January 2014

The Winter Gardens.

No, not Blackpool Winter Gardens, that's something completely different.
Whenever you see a section on gardens in winter in a book or a magazine the garden usually looks pretty stunning. So why is it that my own winter garden is a mixture of mud and gloom? If I go anywhere in my garden at the moment it is accompanied by the squelch squelch squelch sound of my mud encrusted wellies churning up my poor Winter strained lawn. Beds look forlorn and sad. When the snow comes it hides the bleakness and transforms it into something totally different of course, a Winter wonderland that never ceases to appeal to me (until I find I can't get my car out and it turns to slush of course, then the squelch will be accompanied by cursing). Perhaps it is never possible to have a garden that looks stunning in both Winter and Summer.
But there are good things to look out for. Already my snowdrops are poking their eager heads through the soil and one of my rambling roses seems to never lose its leaves. Maybe I will put in some hellebores to help next year, just maybe.
Most jobs in the garden at this time of year seem rather joyless too, digging, clearing away old crops and plants, in my case, picking cat poo out of borders, oh the joy. But then there is the excitement of browsing 2014 catalogues, picking seeds, planning where they will go, all done from the comfort of a warm sofa.
We look at the bare bones of a garden, Winter is the only time we can really see it. It is a time to take stock of the years successes (sweet peas, iris, shasta daisies) and faliures (tomatoes - in fact all veg let's blame the weather, delphiniums, lobelia, let's blame some terrible John Innes) and to plan how to rectify errors next time.
By January I am already looking forward to the promise of Spring but I would love to find a way to actually enjoy my Winter garden. The grass sure doesn't help but as my amount of grass gets smaller and smaller each year (as my borders get bigger and bigger) it won't always be such an eyesore. What I would really like, of course, is a man to come and lay paths for me, I have often thought of doing this myself and if my garden was a beautifully flat space I might attempt it, but I have an undulating, uneven garden, not conducive to easy path laying, not that I am complaining because the different levels are actually one of the things I do like about my garden. Makes it interesting.
So it seems that I need to just get some perennials that make for good Winter interest in.

So with all that in mind I leave you with a poem just to bring a bit of culture to this blog for once :-)

The Garden in Winter

By Lucy Maud Montgomery
Frosty-white and cold it lies 

Underneath the fretful skies; 
Snowflakes flutter where the red 
Banners of the poppies spread, 
And the drifts are wide and deep 
Where the lilies fell asleep. 

But the sunsets o'er it throw 
Flame-like splendor, lucent glow, 
And the moonshine makes it gleam 
Like a wonderland of dream, 
And the sharp winds all the day 
Pipe and whistle shrilly gay. 

Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie 
Rainbow buds of by-and-by; 
In the long, sweet days of spring 
Music of bluebells shall ring, 
And its faintly golden cup 
Many a primrose will hold up. 

Though the winds are keen and chill 
Roses' hearts are beating still, 
And the garden tranquilly 
Dreams of happy hours to be­
In the summer days of blue 
All its dreamings will come true. 


  1. Think you need a spam filter on Dan, Either that or I cannot follow whats written in the first comment.
    Paths, I think the 'man' would have wooden sided steps? Some deeper, to make a path? And I guess when nothings growing is the time to do it?

  2. If not a filter, Dan, just delete those types of comment.

    The beauty of those stunning winter gardens you see is all about the underlying architecture and hardscape: rock walls, bright arbors, fences, evergreens take center stage when all the flowers and foliage die back. I'm planning on putting in some serious evergreens this spring to help my drab gardens. Glad you are so looking forward to the growing season. Only -12F here today... spring in Ohio is a long way off.

  3. Compared to the work of redoing a bathroom, which you did yourself in your house, laying a path should not be too difficult.You have done much more complex things.
    Glad you are quoting a Canadian author!

  4. I didn't see the spam, but I get loads and by turning the word verification on and off intermittently it confuses the automatic spammers and cuts down the amount. Not ideal, but at least my readers don't have to unravel the gobledygook every time they comment.

    Consider putting a few evergreens in your borders, preferably those with berries to give it a bit of colour.

  5. A piece of advice from Geoff Hamilton was to visit a garden centre each month of the year and buy a plant which was flowering, then you could be sure that you'd have something of interest in your garden every month of the year. I followed this advice last year, I bought a flowering plant every month, so now I'm just waiting to see if they all flower when they should this year, and if they survive winter.