As the garden is one of the few places we are currently allowed to go, I thought I would ask my friend and Garden Designer, Laura Lee, to give some advice on what we can be doing in our gardens right now. For more inspiration and information, and to find our more about her gardening services visit: https://www.lauraleegardens.com/
Winter Gardening Tips
Under usual circumstances, one look out of the window at a grey and often drizzly landscape would be reason enough to just turn the heating up and stay indoors. But at the moment, with the current lockdown proving challenging for even the most positive people, getting outside into our gardens or green space in general has never been so important. I think getting on top of your garden now is really helpful in feeling more in control of what’s happening at the moment. Practically, it will also help you get a head start on Spring (when other people will hopefully be allowed to come and enjoy your garden too!).
There are all sorts of good reasons to have a go at gardening. Studies have shown that spending time in nature leads to a significant reduction in depression and anxiety. Soil also contains bacteria that triggers serotonin in our brains when we come into contact with it. This acts not just an antidepressant but boosts our immune system too. The act of gardening is also really good for our
mental health as concentrating on one task can produce a produce a rhythm or flow state which can be incredibly restorative and relaxing. All of this coupled with the fact that gardening is really good exercise means that it is definitely worth giving it a go.
For my clients, having a low maintenance garden is often one of the key things they ask for and all of my designs are created to encourage clients outside all year round and with hard working, easy care plants. But all gardens require some maintenance and with just a bit of regular work you can really
keep on top of your space and learn to enjoy doing it. Most importantly, don’t worry about getting things wrong, most plants are resilient and will cope with some pretty harsh treatment!
So what to do?
- Prune fruit trees. With all pruning you are looking for the three D’s; dead, damaged or diseased. Also remove any branches that are rubbing against each other as this can lead to a D! Cut branches off leaving about a 1cm nub at the base, but keep a light touch and never remove more than a third of the tree at a time. Make sure you also remove any old fruit still on the tree.
- Start cutting back any dead perennials (flowering plants which have not completely disappeared underground over winter). This a really satisfying job but don’t look at your borders and think it’s all got to be done in a day. Twenty to thirty minutes here and there over the next month will get the job done and ensure any overwintering wildlife still have somewhere to shelter until it gets a bit warmer. Cut off any dead or brown material right to the ground or to where green shoots are showing and don’t be tempted to leave a 5cm piece of old stem as it’ll still be there all summer!
- Try growing something from seed. It’s really super easy and will make you feel ridiculously proud of yourself! To make things even easier, look for flowers that are ‘Hardy Annuals’ and can be sown directly into the garden in March/April time. For vegetables, think about how much time and space you can devote to them. Salad leaves can be sown in a pot as canspinach and peas and you can start them off indoors on a kitchen windowsill. Order your seeds now, as the good varieties will have sold out by the time you want to sow them, just keep them somewhere cool and dry until you’re ready.
- Do a bit of weeding. You’d be surprised how much stuff is already above the ground at the moment. Again, just do a small patch at a time.
- Mulch. One of the most important jobs you can do to keep your plants healthy and retain moisture through the summer. Once you have cut back all your dead plants and given your borders a weed, cover them with a good 5cm layer of something like mushroom compost or manure. Avoid peat based composts as these are not only not good for the environment, they just won’t do the job as well.
Most importantly, try and get to know your outside space. You’ll be surprised at how much is already poking its head above ground and how a little 10 minutes can turn into an hour and how much more relaxed you’ll feel when you come inside. A bit achy, but content!
For design inspiration and gardening tips or if you need any help with your garden you can find me on IG
@lauraleegardens or at lauraleegardens.com.