We are really excited about seeing our Natural Pool and Ellicar Gardens appear on BBC Gardeners' World, episode 31 at 9.00pm Friday 27th October. Earlier this year, presenter Adam Frost and a film crew visited us in February, to spend the day filming our 5 acre gardens in winter. The team was hoping for a frosty morning, to catch the early morning sun lighting up the seed heads and delicate grasses around our Natural Pool. Travelling all the way from Bristol, it was tricky to plan a day, knowing for sure there would be a frost.
In fact the weather had turned quite mild in February so we very lucky indeed on the morning they arrived - we had a super ground frost with sunshine breaking through an ethereal mist. Couldn’t have planned it better. The crew worked hard all day filming the gardens as the light moved around, back lighting foliage and highlighting glossy leaves and coloured winter stems.
Winter is all about light in the garden, picking up texture and form.
Our gardens are informal, naturalistic and without classic winter topiary and shapes- they are however full of texture, light, movement, natural evergreens and shape. I love our garden in winter and find it as beautiful in winter as in the height of summer. We leave all the plants standing in the borders over winter and don’t cut anything back until late March, when the first bulbs start to appear.
Each plant is food for someone or home for someone else.
Seed heads feed the wild birds, and the dense foliage creates the perfect habitat layer for invertebrates, insects, amphibians, reptiles and voles to over winter. These in turn feed our higher predators. The eco system is in great health here and our garden supports an astonishing amount of wildlife.
Leaving the borders standing is low maintenance too- by the time plants are ready to cut back, we simply strim or snap off the dessicated foliage, gather them up to compost or even leave a layer of plant material on the borders as a mulch. Frogs and toads appreciate this as they wake up from winter hibernation. Voles also like some protection from the buzzards who just know when the garden gets cut back and circle overhead hunting easy prey.
The low winter sun literally lights up the whole garden. Grasses rustle in the slightest breeze, seed heads punctuate a tonal tapestry, and goldfinches flit around in charms feeding from stands of teasels and swathes of verbena, swaying on the wiry stems like miniature acrobats. Winter is actually my favourite season in our garden. It is easy to relax, enjoy the light effects and the birds, which come in huge numbers to winter with us. They bring the garden alive- they replace the flowers of summer for me.
If you have enjoyed watching us on Gardeners' World and would like to visit Ellicar Gardens in winter, we open for the NGS on 25th Feb, 12noon-4pm. Our winter garden in full blossom, with hellebores, snowdrops, fragrant shrubs, beautiful grasses and prairie borders, and our Natural Pool lies like a giant reflective Sky Mirror, at the heart of the garden. There is a lot to enjoy and explore here and it is great day out for bird watchers too.
Ellicar Gardens, Carr Road, Gringley on the Hill, Doncaster, DN10 4SN