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Winter Serenity

 February 2024

Kathy Brown's Garden at the Manor House in Stevington takes on a soothing palette of hues and subtle, dewy light during the wintertime.

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A muted palette imbues tranquility

One could be forgiven for thinking that during winter dormancy, gardens have less to offer compared to the fairer months, but pared back to the bare bones, gardens offer a new perspective, and a different sensorial experience. With less foliage gardens are more open, and mould more seamlessly into the surrounding countryside. Wildlife is more visible, and a garden's structure more evident. There is intrigue as a branch twists and writhes. Ethereal, misty light, a muted palette, somewhat void of vivid, heart-racing colours, can both sooth, plus delight. Dewy jewels, as they hold on tight, draws the eye in deeper. There is an undeniable serenity to a well designed garden at this time of year, and with a garden such as Kathy's, packed with winter interest too, it is nothing short of wonderful.

 

After keeping an eye on the forecast since mid-February, I visited a few days later. Despite anticipating frost and mist, the delicate dewy light more than made up for the lack of frost. It was a huge honour and privilege to spend time in such a remarkable garden, that understandably was voted the Nation's Favourite Gardens Winner, The English Garden Magazine.

Plantings

A winter garden with colourful stems, white barks, fun topiary, bulbs [aconites, iris, daffodils and snowdrops], shimmering ornamental grasses and scent. 25 years in support of the NGS.

JANUARY

  • Miscanthus

  • Daffodils in late January provide beautiful colour. Rijnveld's Early Sensation is an early bloomer providing a stunning golden yellow

  • Winter flowering aconites in a soft yellow from Germany named Eranthis hyemalis Schweifelglanz, whilst the traditional form is busy forming splashes of gold all around the garden

  • Iris, crocus, snowdrops, and white hellebores in mossy homes, inspired by Japan

FEBRUARY

  • anemone blanda, and cyclamem coum in flower, dwarf iris Frozen Planet, Salix Mount Aso with its branches soaring is on of Kathy's favourites. Uplifting golden aconites, eranthis hyemalis bring sunshine even on a dull day, and squirrels, deer, voles, and pigeons leave them alone.

  • Narcissus Spring Dawn is always early makes a beautiful association with snowdrops. Introduced to the garden in 1986 with one parent being another even earlier on called Rijnveld's Early Sensation.

  • A table top arrangement of primrose kokedamas, spiky fescues, and a well worn mossy basket of Skimmia japonica Perosa with variegated leaves, brings lots of pleasure to Kathy.

  • Soft pin puzzy pussy willows, Salix Mount Aso.

  • The Topiary dragon marks the celebration of Chinese New Year, as it guards a tree peony bed and another with intersectionals.

  • Winter is a time to enjoy the small players as well as stems, grasses and barks. Snowdrops, wild hellebores, and warm cyclamen amongst the Himalayan birches.

GOT UP TO 12 FEB, in KATHY'S INSTAGRAM GRID.

VISIT BBC GARDENERS WORLD VIDEO to pick up on names of the twiggy tall plantings.

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The glorious architectural shape of the Prunus Tai-Haku, the Great White Cherry, soon to burst into life in a few weeks with a show-stopping display of white blooms. An appropriately positioned ornate seat upon which to contemplate whilst gulping in the blossom's heady scent.

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