The gardening year split in half

This article is being written to clarify a point for all gardeners who work in the garden for 12 months of the year whatever the weather is doing.  There is a belief that sometime in October we hang up our tools, stock up on tea & biscuits and get the cards out – we stretch our stiff limbs, rub our eyes and re-emerge in March as the sun warms and buds and shoots burst forth.  Not so.

Here at Newby, our job is split into two quite distinct 6 month periods, our open season from April through to September and the closed season of Autumn, Winter and early Spring.  Both are equally enjoyable and challenging and I wouldn’t wish for one without the other.

Summer is, or I hope it will be, long sunny days, lots of flowers and most importantly many happy visitors.  I shall write about this time in more detail later. As all gardeners quickly learn summer for all its peace and beauty, it may appear serene and tranquil, but there are always people frantically trying to keep one step ahead of ‘Mother Nature’.   It is a perennial fact you learn to deal with, as for all of the team there is the constant feeling that what you are doing today should have been done yesterday.  When you are passionate about a garden and its standards, it is a relentless pressure, as nothing stands still waiting for you to catch up.

September to April is very different, in many areas there is much more harder physical work to be done, but it does have one clear advantage – a job that is not completed today can be left until tomorrow and finished off.  However, we can never be complacent about the 6 month closed season providing us with bags of time to get all the work done.  A fact I learnt very quickly is once Christmas has passed and we return to work in January, the first day of opening (1st April or Easter) is just around the corner.


For many gardeners at home and include myself, tidying the garden and putting it to bed and then another session in March to sort out the winter ravages is perfectly acceptable.  An average sized front and back garden can be sorted out over a couple of weekends or so.  I would encourage a few regular forays into the garden though, just to check nothing is amiss, even better if you have some winter scent such as Daphne bholua – heavenly.

I am content now that I have put to paper this detail and as you look out of a window at horizontal rain, in its ice form, remember all the gardeners, we would do it anyway, but we do want you to come and enjoy our beautiful and varied gardens across the breadth of the country.