Here’s how to give your garden a growing chance this winter
While many of us would prefer to spend the cold, dark months hibernating, that’s not possible and also not really as appealing as one may think.
“In South Africa our winter climate is so moderate anyway that we always have plenty of days where it’s not just ok, but actually rather pleasant to be outside, says Brenda Lange, Principal at Leapfrog Kempton Park. What’s more, fresh outdoor air is crucial to our physical and mental wellbeing, which is a great reason for ensuring the garden is in a state that makes it as satisfying to enjoy in winter as in summer. A few simple tasks can help to ensure your garden flourishes throughout winter and beyond.
Like any project with beautiful results, a garden starts with a plan. Make time to walk around the garden to assess its condition after the summer.
“Note the plants that need to be replaced, the areas that need to be cleaned or filled up, as well as where you’d like to bring in a new feature,” says Lange. “Make notes and take photos on your phone as this will help with a detailed plan when you’re back at your desk and again when you go to the nursery.”
While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to use the notes to plan the maintenance or to brief your gardener later on.
Clean the garden
“Autumn clean” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “spring clean” but it is as important to give your garden a good clean before winter as it is before summer. “It’s also much easier to start with a clean slate so be sure to rake up the leaves, trim the trees and shrubs, and even give the garden pots and tools a quick wash-down,” Lange says. Once everything is cleared and clean, the creativity can commence!
The quality and condition of the soil plays a crucial role in the overall health of a garden. It may be necessary to replenish the soil after a long, hot summer that saw it depleting its nutrients. The best way to get an accurate reading on the condition of the soil – and thus what it needs – is to conduct a soil test. “When choosing fertilisers, opt for natural or organic if possible as this helps to promote the natural equilibrium of the soil far better than artificial products,” Lange advises.
Plan the planting
Once you’re satisfied with the condition of the soil, start planning what you want to plant, making sure to choose plants and shrubs that are able to endure the harsh demands of winter. Lange adds: “Consider factors such as sunlight, frost and rain in planning the garden, as some plants cope better with some of the elements than others.” Similar to planning an interior, a statement garden is one that has been planned with consideration and reflects a sense of story, style and symmetry.
No garden can survive without water, which is why the availability of water for gardening purposes should be taken into account when planning the garden. If you live in a winter rainfall area this may not be a problem, but then you want to ensure you plant things that can cope with a lot of rain. “If you’re in a part of the country that’s dry in winter you want to consider possible water restrictions – and this precious resource in general – by opting for indigenous plants that will also do better in our climate,” Lange concludes.