The winter garden is special. Flower colours seem more clearly defined. Cold enhances their pigmentation and deepens their colours. Deciduous trees that have lost their leaves sketch a tracery of bare branches against blue winter skies. And the crisp, cool air makes it a pleasure to work outdoors.

Winter colour

During winter, many plants continue growing in preparation for the spring show to come. Bulb leaves have emerged from the soil and seedlings are making steady progress. Sweet peas are moving steadily up their supports. Watch out for snails and slugs – they love the cooler time of year – and feed flowers regularly with a liquid fertiliser such as Thrive Roses & Flowers Liquid Plant food.

Winter perfumes

Flower fragrance seems sharper and stronger in the winter air, too. Think of the clear sweetness of daphne perfume, the soft notes of pretty pink luculia and the spicy scent of wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox).

The nutmeg bush (Tetradenia riparia) develops winter-blooming, pale mauve plumes with a sweet scent. Its leaves, too, release a pleasantly spicy aroma when crushed.

Early sweet peas begin blooming in winter, and the perfumed spikes of jonquils and hyacinths brighten the garden.

Winter problems

Caterpillars may still be hanging on. If they’re causing unsightly damage, use Dipel or Success to clean them up. Squirt some PestOil onto citrus trees. This will smother scale insects and the baby stink bugs that are already hiding in the tree. Check citrus (especially lemons and grapefruit) for the characteristic swellings produced by the native citrus gall wasp. The current season’s swollen sections should be cut off, wrapped in plastic and put firmly into the bin.

Oxalis are winter-growing weeds that, although pretty, are very persistent. Dab with Zero Weeding Brush or spray with Zero Rapid. Small bulbs in the ground will then emerge, so follow-up treatment will be necessary.

Winter planting

Winter’s the ideal season to plant and transplant deciduous trees and shrubs.

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