Notes from the garden shed

I don’t care what the poets say winter is not death but rather a time for renewal – like our sleep, writes garden manager Paul Richens. Fruit trees actually need at least 53 days of dormancy (technically called chill hours) or like me they wake up grumpy. Do you think plants dream now there’s a thought! Seasons, like the weather are neither good nor bad but sadly many people dread winter so lets try and cheer them up.

With a nod to Ian Dury - Reasons to like winter 123:

- Early bulbs, the scent of winter sweet,  winter jasmine flowers, ivy flowers, holly berries, mistletoe, hips and haws, bryony berries, winter skies and low sun, water droplets on Kale leaves, collecting potatoes from your store, leek soup, cauliflower cheese, sweet potato hot pots, red ruby chard glowing in sunlight, parsnips sweetened after being touched by a frost. Seeing the architecture of trees, winter pruning.

The battle between our snail and slug friends and us is now on hold till next year but there are other who would eat our precious winter veg. Of course I’m thinking of pigeons both the scruffy London pigeons and the rather beautiful wood pigeons both of who will happily munch all your greens in a sitting. Time to get out some netting and put up a barrier.

In the Skip garden we’ve been thinking about spring already (gardeners really have to work seasons ahead!) and have been planting bulbs around the site. As always with a nod to
our hardworking honey bees we’ve made sure we’ve chosen varieties that produce both nectar and pollen in abundance to support the early insect foragers not only honey bees but also the queen bumblebees just coming out of hibernation. Our first choice is always the large flowered crocus. These have the amazing ability of internally reflecting the sunrays inside to flower head to significantly increase the temperature – who doesn’t like to visit a warm café on a cold

Don’t forget that the falling leaves are returning goodness to the soil – nature wastes nothing.

Happy autumn colour spotting!