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Seasonal plants

Make your garden last longer than May to September

My favourite time for gardening is late winter and very early spring – February and March – for me, there is so much hope at this time of the year and things to look forward to.

A lot of people have called me nuts for labouring in the freezing cold but I’m an advocate of ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’.

You can also really appreciate new life erupting at this time – and also see things emerging earlier every year.

There’s no smell of burning sausages from barbecues to put you off, kids thudding footballs or the cacophony of lawnmowers buzzing in your ears like demented wasps.

Winter: December to February

There is a tranquillity about winter that’s really rather special. If you want to extend your gardening year, it takes some planning.

Flowering plants in winter are rare – look at shape, form and colour of leaves, stems, bark and berries to liven up your garden. Of course, there are exceptions like witch hazel (Hamamelis).

Evergreens come into their own in winter – look for combinations like dark green or variegated shiny holly contrasting with beech’s dull copper winter covering of dead leaves.

A blast of fragrance on a cold day can be intoxicating – here are my recommendations for scented winter plants.

Spring: March to May

Bulbs are your best bet for spring but that means remembering to plant them from September to November. Daffodils, etc, are a beautiful sight (especially if they’re scented) but the new fresh foliage is a glorious sight.

On a warm spring day, you can almost hear everything growing.

This is the time of woodland flowering plants, like anemones and early cyclamen, desperate to get their seed set before the deciduous trees come into leaf and block out all the sunlight.

So, it is possible with a bit of thought to have all-year-round interest – get planning!