The Avon spring bulb catalogue featuring a collection of snowdrop variations
The Avon spring bulb catalogue featuring a collection of snowdrop variations (Photo: UGC TNE)

The winter months provide us with an opportunity to plan changes to our gardens that can bring us even more pleasure from our outdoor spaces. A New Year and a new beginning for our gardening year, how exciting!

It’s official: I now love wintertime, no longer thinking ‘oh no, dark winter nights,’ I now think about my reading corner, my place to dream, reflect, be inspired and to plan the year ahead. I’ve piled it high with new and old gardening books, magazines and seed catalogues.

My old favourite is top of the pile, Dear friend and Gardener, Letters on Life and Gardening (1998). Compiled from letters between two gardening icons, Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto, it’s full of warmth, wit and great gardening banter. I dip into it every winter and it always gets me fired up and wanting to get started in the garden.

As a garden designer, there’s never really a quiet season. I am spending the winter months absorbed in creating detailed planting plans for client’s gardens that will be planted this spring. When the weather allows, I’m also planting bare root trees such as Malus Evereste, hedges of Fagus sylvatica Purpurea, and shrubs such as Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’. November to March is a great time to get them into the ground, where they establish as quickly as pot-grown specimens and can be a fraction of the cost.

The new year is a good time to be planning changes you might like to make in your own garden too. With a bit of careful design, you can have 12 months of unfolding treasures, some of which appear most unexpectedly and really catch you by surprise.

In my own garden Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ is flowering at full throttle along with Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’, their combined perfume on a bright, still day is nothing short of spellbinding. A couple of sprigs brought indoors can scent a whole room and never fails…