Seasons - Winter

Poor winter. It always comes too early and leaves too late. What it is about winter that we cannot get over it too quickly? Winter has only just begun (officially 21st December) yet we start immediately looking for signs of spring.

So let me say a few words in praise of winter. The white landscape blessed with snow or kissed by frost that is necessary to kill off bugs and to give plants a rest. The tracery of bare branches against the sky. Frosted leaves that look so pretty. Berries clinging to shrubs to provide much-needed food for birds. Those bright cold days with clear skies and low sunshine that seems to glow.

If you do have deep snow, knock it off the branches of shrubs and trees to alleviate the weight, but leave it elsewhere as insulation. Make sure plants like Artemisia and Achillea are dry at the crown to prevent rot. Often we dislike winter because we have not planted for the season. Try to make space for a few handsome winter shrubs such as Hamamelis, Chimonanthus or Parrotia. Hellelbores will provide colour, cut back the leaves to reveal those blooms and I always find Ranunculus provide a welcome winter drift with their small yet interestingly coloured leaves. With the right winter plants, you will not wish winter away so quickly.

Each season has its purpose. Appreciate the winter artistry of nature. Embrace the rest from digging, cutting back and deadheading. Yes it is cold, and it is my least favourite season. I am a hibernator. Yet if spring comes too soon, frosts will only kill off the plants with their tender buds. So enjoy the season, for what it is. Rest for the plants, a time to plan and re-adjust. It rarely pays to sow seed early either, these too just take longer to grow and later sowing often catch up with earlier ones. Sow something different, there is so much to try.

Enjoy the silhouettes, the sunrises, the photo opportunities. Relax and plan what to sow and how to sow it. There's never been a better time than now.

Words and images copyright Karen Platt 2016