Black Friday All Week

The joy of winter gardening

By Tamsin Westhorpe

Are you the type of gardener who gets to the end of October and locks the garden shed until the spring?

If so, I’m here to persuade you that gardening through the winter is as good for you as it is for your garden. Gardening now will allow you to feel less overwhelmed by an ever-growing gardening ‘to do’ list in spring and it’s the perfect time to make big layout changes to your plot.

Let’s start with the physical and mental wellbeing that gardening will give you. With shorter days it’s important that we spend as much time as we can outside as this is bound to lift our mood. Wrapping up in lots of thin layers and heading out to do a few hours of leaf clearing, pruning, or planting will serve you just as well as going to the gym. It’s important to wear comfy clothing and opt for gloves and safety boots. A little warm up on the doorstep before attacking a task is also advised as is changing jobs every so often so that different muscles are worked. It won’t be long before you are peeling off a few layers of clothing and feeling exhilarated. The best thing about a garden workout is that you will see the results in the garden as well as in your body. It also means that you can enjoy that teatime crumpet dripping in butter guilt free!

Gardening offers positive results, hope in the future, and provides a challenge. All these things are great for our mental health. Those who took up gardening during the spring and summer lockdown discovered what so many of us keen gardeners already know – gardening is relaxing, rewarding and a relief from troubles. Stopping because it has got a little chilly could reverse all the good work you have done. Even on days when the weather is extreme great reassurance can be had by spending time outside watching wildlife, planning for next year or even wrapping up at night in a blanket to look at the stars. The garden is an escape from reality and an environment that, to some extent, you can control.

Gardening really is a year-round hobby with early winter being a busy time. November is the perfect planting time for trees, shrubs, and perennials. Get them planted soon and they will spend the winter putting down their roots which means they won’t need so much hand watering in summer. Frost-tender plants need to be protected from the winter chill that is bound to be on the way and pruning is a priority. It is now that flower and vegetable beds can be created, new paths put down and sheds built.

Winter is the ideal window of opportunity to make the garden work for you. Should you move the patio? Did you have enough privacy last summer and how can you make the most of the view at the end of the garden? Disruption of the plot isn’t going to be as stressful as it would be in spring when precious shoots of peonies, tulips and hostas are pushing their way out of the soil. Now is the time to get you and your plot in perfect shape.

6 top jobs that are a great physical work out

1. Lifting and dividing perennials to make new plants. 2. Leaf raking. 3. Digging vegetable beds and borders. 4. Painting the shed. 5. Turning the compost heap. 6. Planting trees and shrubs.

5 top jobs that are good for your wellbeing

1. Putting up bird feeders. 2. Sowing herb seeds. 3. Tidying the shed and greenhouse. 4. Keeping a nature notebook of activity in the garden. 5. Build or buy a hedgehog hibernation house.

Tamsin Westhorpe

With over 25 years’ experience in the horticultural industry, Tamsin has plenty of practical, hands on advice to share. Her career has seen her edit The English Garden magazine for six years, write scripts for TV gardening, lecture at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset and care for parks and gardens. She is now a freelance writer and curator and gardener of Stockton Bury Gardens, Herefordshire (listed by The Times in the top 20 gardens to visit July 2017). Tamsin is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Judge, co-Chair of The Garden Media Guild and a prolific speaker at many high profile events. She has recently written her first book ‘Diary of a Modern Country Gardener’ published by Orphans Publishing and is the voice of the popular Candide Gardening podcast ‘Fresh from the pod’.

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