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Updated: Apr 7

 People often ask me, ‘what do you do in the garden in winter?’ I think it must be imagined that the garden gate is locked, all disappears till spring, and you spend three months reading in front of a fire. Well, no!

 Certainly the time pressures are different. Where in summer you’re constantly chasing weeds and the next flowers, in winter a job can be done and finished. It’s the most important season for tree and shrub pruning, which we’ll look at in next month’s Diary. As the foliage of plants dies back it affords the best opportunity to get mulch onto the beds, and to ‘feed’ the soil. There are still many leaves to be collected from the lawn areas in the early part of winter. Some of these are added to the composts, but  most are collected into the leaf bins to rot down over the next year or two. This provides us with another mulching and potting medium.

In the two greenhouses we have plants from seedlings to trees all of which need caring for. And as I write this, growing in front of me are leek and brassica crops all of which need harvesting through the winter. 

 We are lucky to have relatively mild winters here in Monmouthshire and the overwhelming majority of plants in the garden will cope perfectly well. For those that would struggle some are dug-up and brought indoors, others are wrapped in horticultural fleece or hessian to keep off the worst of the cold.

 The tools, equipment, structures and furniture are also given some extra care in the winter. Much is done on-site from teak oiling of the furniture to the cleaning and sharpening of the individual hand tools. The various pieces of machinery are sharpened and serviced off-site.

December for most of us means Christmas, and the house here is decorated with greenery, berries and trees from the garden and wider estate. The collection of the different plant material is a group effort. It’s a good sign that the holidays are on the way before the work of January begins.

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