Spring bulbs are great value and can be a real sign of spring and new life and vigour in the garden. They are also almost idiot proof and will flower and increase year on year with little attention. But with just a little more care they can flourish even more than the average gardener believes. Feeding, deadheading and watering at the right times helps to prevent flower ‘blindness’ - refusing to flower.
Many conifers make superb garden plants – they have style, colour, shape and elegance even for gardens with small plots
You could argue that conifers have been having a bad press amongst gardeners for a while now with the word dredging up recollections of overgrown leylandii hedges and dwarf conifers which have been allowed to become giants.
The reality is many conifers make superb garden plants, offering a tapestry of texture and colours and they are wonderfully diverse with so much to offer gardens – even those with small plots.
Winter is a perfect time to plant trees in your garden, here Claire Greenslade, head gardener at Hestercombe, explains the best trees to plant.
"Even in a small garden a tree can add height, structure and seasonal interest. They can provide shelter and food for wildlife. Some trees stay quite small making them ideal for a pot, so even if you only have a patio or a balcony there are still options."
Taking cuttings in December and through January is a great way to increase your stocks of deciduous shrubs in the garden, says Claire Greenslade, head gardener at Hestercombe.
We take hardwood cuttings of dogwoods, winter flowering honeysuckles and philadelphus but you can also propagate abelias, deutzias, viburnum and fruit bushes such as gooseberries and currants, and it’s really simple.
The uncommonly mild winter that we have been experiencing is producing some very unusual events in our winter garden. Spring bulbs are already sprouting green shoots, buds are appearing on fruit bearing trees that we harvested a couple of months ago. We have also been suffering a daily deluge, with record-breaking rainfall, making our gardens waterlogged. We should continue take care of our bulbs and flowerbeds nonetheless, as we might yet get harsh weather.
Winter - the best time to plan your garden!
Yes, you can garden in the winter. Actually it is the best time for making plans as well as viewing your landscape and making decisions about what wonderful effects you want to create in your garden next year. When the leaves fall and the flowers are gone, you can see the "bare bones" of your garden and imagine just where a nice arbour, or a water feature might go.
Now, right after you have hopefully made and not yet broken your New Year's resolutions, is the time for you to plan and prepare for a vegetable garden. Last autumn was actually the optimal time to set aside a plot, turn it over, add compost, and wait for winter freezing and thawing and a snow cover to help ready the soil for spring planting. But it's not too late and given the fact that we have had an unusually mild winter so far and fairly frost-free.
We are always urged to do more recycling and there’s plenty we can do in our gardens to make effective use of waste materials
If you recycle more in your garden, you’ll not only be helping the environment but you could save yourself some money as well.
From making your own compost to using yoghurt pots for growing plants in, from collecting rain water in water butts to recycling ‘grey’ water from the washing up bowl, there are loads of ways to help the environment and to save some money.
Country Gardener magazine is delighted to be sponsoring the wonderful series of potato days throughout the West Country which start early in the New Year and run for almost three months.
Specialist Potato Days are held in conjunction with gardening clubs and societies in January, February and March and have become hugely popular events.
Pennard Plants from East Pennard in Somerset are hosting a series of Potato Days in the New Year with a tried and tested formula.