Winter Planning for Summer Success

Our favourite gardener Matt Biggs (of Radio 4’s GQT) is in planning mode at the moment, so we wanted to know a little about winter gardening and what to do when. “You might think that winter in the garden means no activity at all apart from feeding the birds- wrong! Well, it is certainly true that the birds deserve their grub, but if you want to enjoy new shrubs and trees to enhance the shape and architecture of your garden then now is the ideal time to do it.

When the garden is pared down to the bare bones you can see the overall structure of it and where there are gaps and opportunities for planting. If you opt for a container grown plant then you can, theoretically, plant at any time of the year but if you plant them in the winter they need less watering as there is water available, and bare root and root balled trees and shrubs are only available in the autumn and winter.

Before you rush off to the garden centre, do consider the size and conditions of the planting site – no good planting something with an eventual 5 metre spread in a small garden or indeed a Mediterranean plant in an area of deep shade. There are so many choices that it really is worthwhile doing your homework – your local plant centre, nursery or garden centre is a good place to start – they know the local conditions, weather and soil types and also what grows well. A quick walk around your local area will also give you lots of tips – if you see something you really like take a photo if you don’t know what it is, and there are magazines and websites galore too.

You don’t need to go for the ordinary and easy either – if you are a keen gardener or keen to learn, do a little more research and see what you can find as there are new plant introductions all the time and many, many choices. The most important thing is to choose something you will enjoy living with, that complements your space and that has a maintenance schedule you can cope with!

My plant of the moment is Leucanthemella serotina, a tall white daisy that flowers from September until the first frosts but, of course, it will change and that is the joy of gardening, you can never learn all there is to learn and never run out of ideas either! ”

For the perfect pressie for the gardener and cook in your life check out Matt’s book The Village Show written with Thane Prince – it give you top gardening and cooking tips to make you the star of your own village show!