Friday, 26 November 2010

“Beating the Winter Blues” - My Cures for Seasonal Affective Disorder

I’m quite willing to come indoors and blog today, it’ll give my toes the chance to thaw out. I have only a few pots left to plant up for the winter/spring displays (I plant at least 200 between mid September and the end of November) so it's time for me to warm up.

“Beating the Winter Blues” 
Last weekend, the body heat of the hundreds of people helped warm Whichford Pottery, as we all gathered for our Christmas Sale, to listen to Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter, a genius of succession planting and Christopher Lloyd’s representative on earth.
Following on from him on Sunday, I chose to address my fear of the dark days of winter and offer solutions to"beat the winter blues". 

One horticultural cure for Seasonal Affective Disorder is to plant a few pots near your door or visible from your windows with evergreens, perennials and winter bedding, putting as many bulbs as your pocket money will allow underneath them. Crocus shoots are already appearing, these alone lift your spirits but if you have planned carefully their flowers can be followed by narcissi, tulips, alliums, even lilies. I think of it as planning myself a very slow (nine or ten months) firework display.

It’s getting a bit late to plant everything except tulips and lilies. But that doesn’t stop me. Ideally you should buy what you need in September (you’ll get the best choice at our bulb sale of course…) and start planting immediately.  It never works like that, though does it? If you have somewhere cool and dry to store your bulbs it is possible to carry on planting right into early December, although I find that narcissi and irises in particular become gradually less viable.

If you still haven’t bought any bulbs then you may be able to find a few at garden centres but check them carefully to make sure they haven’t shrivelled up or sprouted badly. Sometimes they are worth trying, especially if they are discounted for quick sale. Some may be available growing in little plastic pots; these are useful stopgaps but an expensive way of buying bulbs.

Lilies are fine for planting during the winter and you can put other plants or bedding on top of them so that the pot looks interesting now. More on this another time.

Time to get outside again. My toes are saying “NO! Let’s just go to the pub and sit by the fire”, but my head is saying “Get on with it while it isn’t raining”. Oh well, here goes...

Make sure you don't miss our next workshop weekend on Saturday 11th December. It's your chance to create your very own hand-made wreath with the help of inspirational flower arranger Ann Anson.

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