Your garden gets a lot of love in the summer time. You treat it to regular mowing and maintenance. You plant beautiful, colourful flowers that will inject it with life and vibrancy. You invite friends and relatives around for barbecues, and garden parties that stretch long into the amber coloured nights. Your garden is spoilt rotten in the warmer months… But then autumn comes along and things start to wind down. By the time winter rolls around the garden is all-but forgotten. Chances are you only see it in in glimpses during the dark and exhausted hours between getting up and going to go to work or between dragging bedraggled selves from the car to the house as we shrug off the ravages of our working day. Notwithstanding spending a few shivering minutes in the back garden to set off some fireworks on bonfire night, we who aren’t lucky enough to live in Australia) get very little mileage out of our gardens in the winter months.
This is a shame, because your garden can be every bit as loyal a friend in winter as in summer. With just a little tweaking, even the humblest of gardens can be transformed into a winter wonderland. But why bother as the weather becomes inclement and the daylight hours grow shorter and shorter? Surely, it’s better to catch the odd glimpse through our bifold doors than to trudge around the garden shivering in the cold? Well, there are actually some compelling reasons to spend some quality time with your garden in winter…
Getting out in the garden helps to combat SAD
Around this time many of us experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. This seasonal form of depression can rob us of our zest for life, distort and magnify relatively minor problems, seriously damage your perspective and your sense of self worth and makes the very act of getting out of bed in the morning seem like an insurmountable challenge. There are many ways in which we can combat this including cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychopharmacology but if you’d rather not pop pills and don’t feel comfortable talking to a professional, spending time outdoors is a proven mood booster, even in the cold.
Proximity to plants and flowers, even if they’re lightly dusted in frost, can work wonders for the psyche. It can ease seasonal sadness, aid concentration and cognitive function, help to relieve stress and anxiety and even help to aid physical ailments and injury. Knowing that nature can aid your health and mental well being, let’s look at some ways in which you can make your garden gorgeous, even in winter.
Add a dash of colour
There’s something uniquely beautiful about the juxtaposition between evergreen firs and shrubs juxtaposed with snow and frost… But whoever said that green was the only colour you could enjoy in the winter month? As the weather gets grey and dark, judiciously employing the right perennials can inject some much needed brightness and vibrancy into your garden. Any of these old favourites can give even the dankest of gardens some joie de vivre…
- Autumn Joy- Autumn joy can just as easily bring joy in the winter. These late flowering perennials like dry, sunny spots. They yield a lovely burst of pink upon flowering before fading into a fiery copper.
- Asters- Asters resemble daisies and are great for bringing some cheer and colour long into the winter. They’re even fairly hardy, provided that they’re staked down in a sheltered corner.
- Japanese anemones- Perfect for brightening up dark and gloomy corners, these long flowering perennials bloom into long, elegant purple petals.
- Sempervivum- If it’s something pretty but low maintenance you’re looking for, these provide a splash of green all year round and are extremely resilient.
Smells like winter
While we all welcome the scents of toffee nut lattes and mulled wine scented candles, the scents of nature are just as comforting in winter. Pines and firs are a given but for a garden that’s a treat for all the senses, try adding a little witch hazel which will release a decorate licorice smell into the air. Winter honeysuckle is equally easy on the eye and the nose, bringing a lemony scent to your garden’s aroma. If, however it’s a low maintenance evergreen shrub you’re after look no further than the Sarcococca (also known as the Christmas Box). Not only does this blossom into pretty white flowers, it exudes a delicate honey scent right through the winter.
Transforming your garden into a pretty and fragrant winter wonderland is a fairly easy and inexpensive affair that can bring you cheer right through to spring.