Do you have a Winter Garden? I doubt it, you just do your best to keep some interest going during the winter. We took a trip down to Chichester just before Christmas and saw the best garden I have seen for a long time. It is the Bishop’s Palace Garden. This lies just behind the Cathedral, a few minutes walk from the High Street. It is now owned by the council who keep it up with the help of friends of the garden. It does have some great advantages, such as lots of old trees and fifteen foot Roman and Tudor walls round it, but the planting is superb. All the borders were well dressed with evergreens and young coloured stemmed dogwoods but they still had evidence of cut down perennials that would give summer colour. They used a lot of phormiums, evergreen grasses, euphorbias, dwarf pittosporums, small evergreen shrubs and hellebores. The warmth of the garden had kept the acanthus and penstemon foliage still looking good. I hope to go again in June to see the rose pergola in flower. One interesting idea was the reuse of a small circular pond which they had heaped with soil to the height of about three feet and planted with very dwarf evergreen shrubs and ground cover. Do try and visit it if you can.
If you have not cut back your late flowering clematis now is the time to do it. Go gently with the earlier large flowered ones, just a tidy is all they need. Snap up any cyclamen coum you see and put them round the base of trees or deciduous shrubs. Anywhere that you will not dig them up by mistake. Beg some winter aconites from friends and plant them while you can still see their leaves above the ground. Beware, they can be thugs once established but they are so cheerful you forgive them.
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]