The Win­ter Gar­den

My Weekly - - Gardening -

David weeds the veg gar­den or cov­ers any bare soil with a green ma­nure crop for the win­ter. Bare soil is just invit­ing weeds to ger­mi­nate, and it makes sense to start next year with clean ground. Green ma­nure crops are turned into the soil in spring to feed it.

We will go through all those tempt­ing seed cat­a­logues and choose what va­ri­eties to grow next year, some old favourites that we know suit our soil and new ones to try as it is fun to ex­per­i­ment.

There are flow­ers to en­joy even in the mid­dle of win­ter: win­ter aconites and snow­drops, Al­ge­rian irises, skim­mia which is good in con­tain­ers, the helle­bore known as Christ­mas rose, bed­ding pan­sies and win­ter jas­mine.

A num­ber of shrubs flower at this time of year, of­ten with scent, such as witch hazel, sweet box or Sar­co­cocca, and the in­tensely fra­grant Daphne odora. Once the flow­ers have faded on win­ter flow­er­ing shrubs they should be pruned, prob­a­bly in Fe­bru­ary, so that they bloom again in a year’s time. These shrubs are im­por­tant not just for us; win­ter heathers and flow­er­ing red­cur­rant are im­por­tant early sources of nec­tar for bees.

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