John Stirland has been giving gardening advice on Radio Nottingham for 45 years so he knows a thing or two about gardening. When he came to talk to Ticknall Garden Club in March, he was a man on a mission. That was to convince his audience that Winter is a fantastic season of the year in the garden.
Evergreens come into their own but they are enhanced when they contrast with other plants around them. The flowers on mahonia, daphne, viburnum, witch hazel and winter sweet may be small but they are all deliciously fragrant.
Trees and shrubs may still be displaying their bright red and yellow berries, glowing like Christmas baubles. Sorbus, pyracantha, euonymus and rowan can be really eye-catching. The brightly coloured stems of cornus and salix light up the garden. The white bark of the silver birch glows and the delicate peeling bark of acer griseum attracts the eye. Even frost can add an extra dimension as it makes clumps of grass; seed heads and leaf edges sparkle.
And do not restrict nursery visits to Spring and Summer. Visits to Cambridge Botanical Garden and local Bluebell Nursery at Smisby came highly recommended as worth a Winter visit.
While most plants in Winter are subdued and low key, crocus, cyclamen, hellebores and pansies provide a welcome splash of colour. Iris unguiculares is positively blowsy if it survives the early onslaught of slugs.
John Stirland showed lovely photographs to demonstrate his talk. These, added to his infectious enthusiasm and lively sense of humour, meant that he could go away satisfied that his mission had been accomplished.
The garden in Winter can indeed be a wonderful place!