Now we are past the turning point of the new year it’s acceptable to dream about Spring. Almost imperceptibly the days are getting longer, and the first bulbs are starting to poke through. It’s a sight that never fails to warm the heart.
The weather might still be too cold to spend hours outdoors, but now is the time to start planning in earnest for the garden year ahead. Think about the structure of your space and what changes you would like to make in Spring.
What were the successes and failures of last summer? Many of us spent a great deal longer on our gardens last year due to the pandemic, so maybe you just fancy changing things up. It’s also worth considering how you want your garden to look a year from now
Whilst Bowood is a more classically inspired garden you could do worse than take a leaf out of ‘Piet Oudolf’s Field’ in nearby Somerset. He is the champion of growing perennials that also look good in winter. Bare stems and branches can still be beautiful if carefully chosen, for example.
While you are planning, put in your orders for seeds and young bedding plants, the cut off is often the end of February. Check vulnerable plants protection against late frosts and make sure your staking hasn’t been damaged by the high winds we have had.
Tie up loose growth and make sure the older cord isn’t rubbing. If you grow early vegetables, we’d recommend you put cloches in places now to start warming up the ground.
Seasonal produce is at the heart of our menus so we always try to plan with this in mind. In our kitchen garden we’ll be sowing carrots, peas and beans as well as my favourite: beets.
Make sure you finish your winter pruning before any Spring growth gets seriously underway and most important of all don’t forget to feed the robin.
While you are outside enjoying that crisp winter air, make sure you keep an eye out for other wildlife. Roe deer are often spotted from the gardens and even the guest bedrooms.
Across the sparse winter fields hares are always a magical sight, especially if they are boxing. One of my favourite UK mammals.
Look out too for the dynamic flight of the kestrel, they are normally spotted hovering over open country, body stock still but wings going like the clappers. They have a beautiful buff underside streaked with black.
If you are really lucky you might see even spot one of the county’s strangest birds: the woodcock. They love the damp woodlands around here but the RSPB have reported them in back gardens recently, possibly attracted by house lights. Large and short legged with a long beak they migrate from Finland and Russia to enjoy our warmer winters.