Before now I’d never had to spend much time gardening in the winter, but Apple Court Garden, quite rightly, demands our attention all year round. The jobs that we do now are as important as those we do at any other time of the year. And it is only by actually getting out there that I appreciate the pleasures of winter gardening, despite the freezing temperatures and my failure to find any gloves that will actually keep my poor fingers warm. The removal of all the herbaceous remains is deeply satisfying (we are not too tidy though, we like to leave enough leaves for helpful insects over-wintering). Pruning the roses, wisteria and shrubs to improve their shape is another satisfying job, and being able to see all the ivy and brambles that need removing in our currently naked hornbeam and beech hedges, is extremely helpful, especially when the garden has been a little neglected over recent years, as ours had. And chopping down the many grasses that Roger Grounds planted here certainly provides a good workout!
And of course, there are the winter-flowering species that we would otherwise miss whilst cocooned in our house. The tiny snowdrops, so like little ballerinas, and the shy, richly coloured hellebores that appear on an almost daily basis are a joy. The beautifully scented daphnes lift my spirits every time I pass and who doesn’t love a camellia in the dreary winter? We have several gorgeous mature camellias here, including two white ones in the White Garden, “Swan Lake” and the aptly named “Snowflake”, both currently in full bloom.
But perhaps my favourite thing about gardening in the winter is the sight of the new buds forming, in all their different shapes, sizes and subtle hues; the miracle of the trees and shrubs resting and rejuvenating. And during these months, take a moment to appreciate the beautiful framework of the trees against the sky, before their leaves return once more. Gardening is good for the soul throughout all the seasons.