Ways to enjoy your garden in winter

Discover 10 ways in which you can enjoy your garden and exercise your green fingers during the winter months. By BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

Winter can be a quiet time in the garden, as many plants are dormant. But if your green fingers are itching and you’re craving some time outdoors, there’s still plenty to do in the garden during the winter months. There are also plenty of plants to enjoy at this time of year.

Before you hunker down for the winter, some preparation is key – protect tender plants such as dahlias, cannas and bananas, and bring in or cover garden furniture. It’s also worth planting bulbs for colour in spring.

Here are some tips for enjoying your garden in winter.

  1. Appreciate evergreens. Evergreens, from box balls and topiary to large, established shrubs, add vital structure in the garden year round but come to the fore in winter. There are many beautiful evergreen shrubs to choose from – browse our Plant Finder for inspiration. Sarcococca confusa, pictured, has the added advantage of strongly scented flowers, too.

  2. Plant bare-root plants. Winter is the time for planting bare-root plants (plants sold without any soil around the roots). It’s an economical way of planting and you’ll find a much wider variety of fruit trees and bushes are available this way. You can also plant bare-root roseshedges and even perennials. Discover plants to plant bareroot.

  3. Enjoy winter flowers and scent. There are many flowers to enjoy in winter, includingCyclamen coum,hellebores,snowdrops,crocus,aconites and winter iris. The flowers of some plants, such asviburnum,hamamelis (witch hazel) and daphne are strongly scented. If your garden lacks colour, head to your local garden centre, where you’ll find many seasonal delights – find out how to plant winter bedding.|

  4. Tidy up. Spend a morning pottering about tidying your greenhouse and shed, having a seasonal tidy up. The greenhouse is less full at this time of year, so it’s a good time to prepare it for spring. Service or maintain your mower and sharpen your tools, ready for the busier seasons ahead.

  5. Attract wildlife. Garden wildlife really needs your help in winter and there are lots of things you can do – find out how to help wildlife survive winter. Get advice on feeding garden birds in winter and find out how to make your garden bee-friendly in winter.

  6. Make the most of your greenhouse. Pottering in the greenhouse is a great way to stave off winter blues. Tidy up overwintering pelargoniums, have a go at growing citrus plants, or plant up a pot of succulents. In January and February you can start sowing seeds in a heated propagator. If temperatures plummet, insulate the greenhouse with bubble wrap.

  7. Plant winter containers. A few winter containers, planted with evergreens and plants with colourful berries or flowers can brighten a dull winter day. Position them near the house so you can enjoy them easily. Discover 10 winter containers to try.

  8. Prune fruit trees, bushes, shrubs and roses.Winter is the main time to prune many types of fruit, including blackcurrantsapplespears, autumn-fruiting raspberriesredcurrants and gooseberries. It’s also a good time to tackle trees, shrubs and roses. Find out more about what to prune in winter.

  9. Appreciate seedheads. Many perennials are cut back at the onset of autumn, but it’s worth leavingplants with attractive seedheads, such asrudbeckia,teasels,echinops and ornamental grasses, intact so that you can enjoy their unique beauty over winter. Cut down in spring, when you see new growth appearing at the base.

  10. Keep the veg plot going. Crops to harvest in winter include parsnips (which taste better after a frost), kale, Brussels sprouts, leeks, winter cabbages and winter salad. If you didn’t get around to planting winter veg and salad earlier in the year, you can grow pulses indoors, as well as microgreens, ready in just a few days. You can also plant for future feasts – garlic, fruit bushes and raspberries and rhubarb can all be planted in winter.

By BBC Gardeners' World Magazine