In the midst of winter, many gardeners just focus on routine activities like leaf clearing, wildlife feeding, and tool cleaning. Whilst these are all important jobs, it’s worth noting that gardening doesn’t have to grind to a complete halt during the colder months. I’m hoping to debunk some common myths associated with Winter gardening, revealing practical tips to help keep your garden looking its best throughout the season.
Myth #1 – You Can’t Plant in Winter
Contrary to the belief that Winter is off-limits for planting, it’s entirely possible to introduce hardy plants to your garden during this time. In the UK, Winter is a great time to be planting bare-root trees and shrubs, as well as evergreen varieties as they are still dormant and yet to produce buds and flowers. So long as the roots are surrounded by soft earth or compost and air pockets are gently but firmly pushed out as you plant, new plants can be introduced with time to establish themselves before the Spring. Mulching with a good organic compost helps to insulate and encourage strong root system development, even in cold conditions.
Myth #2 – Pruning Is only for Spring and Autumn
While pruning is often associated with Spring and Autumn, the late Winter months also provide a great opportunity to prune. Now is the time to shape shrubs and trees by removing dead or dying growth, increasing airflow and improving their overall health. Deciduous trees and shrubs, entering a dormant phase, particularly benefit from Winter pruning. By understanding the specific needs of each plant species, we see the Winter as an ideal time for effective pruning.
Myth #3 – Composting Stops in Winter
Composting doesn’t have to take a break during Winter. Despite the cold slowing down the decomposition process, maintaining an active compost store is a great Winter activity. We encourage our clients to continue adding kitchen scraps, leaves and organic materials to their compost piles and bays. As part of managing and improving compost for our clients’ gardens we try to add smaller pieces of material to the pile, turn it regularly and cover it to retain heat. A bit of hard graft in the Winter allows us to maintain a nutrient-rich soil cycle throughout the year and keeps us warm!
By dispelling a few common myths about winter gardening, it’s clear that levels of garden care don’t need to drop when the temperature does. Strategic planting, thoughtful pruning and consistent composting allows us to nurture the gardens we care for, even in the quieter months of Winter. So, let’s bust those myths and misconceptions and focus on practical approaches that keep our gardens thriving year-round.