The shortest day has passed, and spring is inbound. While this is soul-nourishing news, do try to savour the winter months. The long shadows and the breath-taking sunrises and sunsets that bookend our day are obvious highlights. Snowdrops, Iris and Daffodil provide most of the flower now, but it won’t be long before the Blackthorn lights up our hedgerows with its blossom.
In winter, its often-assumed gardeners are yarning socks and leaning on forks regaling fables of champion marrows, but the reality is much different. We use winter to reset, review and plan, setting ourselves up for the hectic growing season. There is a surprising amount of office work required to run a large garden team, a good amount of that is done now.
The garden still has plenty to be getting on with. The months of January and February are the time to look at winter pruning apples and pears, thinning congested spur systems and reducing overcrowded fruit buds within the system itself. Roses can also be pruned around now, along with wisteria.
Our indoor vines are pruned and ‘scraped’, removing loose bark that harbours pests before we apply wash. It’s an epic job and thankfully, we have an amazing team of volunteers to support us.
It’s time to audit and top up the seed collection. Check sow-by dates and consider swaps with friends. Cleaning glasshouses now will pay huge dividends in the summer, both for better light transmission and pest reduction. Consider sharpening tools, having machinery serviced and top-up consumables such as feeds and sowing media.
If you can, leave out some bird food. We adore watching a grind of Blackbirds feasting on windfalls in the new year, a profound reminder of the importance of leaving a little for nature.
Wishing you the very best of luck with your gardening adventures this new year, from the team at Clumber Park.