first_imgI’ve noticed this week the gardens have taken a real leap forward in both growth and colour. There are lots of flowers starting to peak out, such as Snowdrops, Winter Aconites, Viburnums, Rhododendrons and Witch Hazels.The lines between Spring and Winter have been blurred by the unusual warm soil which the growth is benefiting from. Indeed current soil temperatures of 6C are common, with covered soil (ie covered in black plastic) reaching 10C. This warm soil has been encouraging strong root growth on plants, aswell as activating the fertility in the soil, which in turn has led to this early growth and flowering on many garden plants.Oakfield Park in Raphoe has a substantial display of snowdrops coming into flower at the top of the main lawn, in a lovely combination with yellow flowering Winter Aconite. Likewise Dunmore House in Carrigans has avenues of Snowdrops coming into flowering up their main driveway, and then large clumps throughout the garden.Snowdrop displays like these don’t happen overnight, it takes many years to get sizeable displays. Many years have been spent lifting and dividing these clumps, spacing them out to encourage naturalising.Snowdrops also reproduce from seed, dropping their seeds in the Spring for germinating the following year – in turn this process can take 5-7 years for this seed to flower. Also any displays of Snowdrops you’re like to enjoy won’t like sitting under 10” of leaves, so removing a heavy leaf-fall  in December is vital so that the snowdrop flowers are able to be enjoyed.2 plants heavy in perfume I was drawn to this week was a Sweet Box in Rathmullan House, this 3’ tall evergreen shrub produces a small, almost unnoticeable flower, which is wonderfully scented when you stick your beak in! Sweet Box is a glorious plant for a large container outside a window.Another great scented plant that stopped me in my tracks this week was a glorious Witch Hazel, just outside the walled garden in Dunmore House.The colour and perfume was wonderful. Witch Hazels make great garden specimen trees/large shrubs and are especially suited to small gardens, and if the garden is enclosed or sheltered their scent can hang about.You’ll find Witch Hazels, Snowdrops, Sweet Box and loads of winter/spring flowering shrubs for sale now in your local garden centre.Remember if the plant has been kept outside in the garden centre then it’s suitable for you to plant straight away, but if the plants has been kept in a polytunnel or under protection then you should follow good practice and gradually harden the plant off before planting in its final position. The three gardens mentioned- Oakfield Park, Dunmore House and Rathmullan House are all closed for the season (but don’t worry Rathmullan House re-opens shortly! And Dunmore and Oakfield reopen in Spring).Next WeekThe Lenten RoseGARDENING WITH GARETH – DONEGAL GARDENS ARE COMING TO LIFE! was last modified: January 29th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:columnGardening with GarethgardensGareth AustinLifespringwinterlast_img read more