As the new year progresses, the days start to become a little longer and hopefully the weather begins to improve and, more importantly, our thoughts return to getting out in the garden again.

I’ve certainly got quite a bit to get on with in order to open my garden gate to visitors from the June 1.

That said, I’ve also got a tour group from America visiting on May 27 to get the season off to a good start.

This year’s visitors are certainly going to have a very different perspective with the changes I’ve made, both in the front with the new, larger boat and at the back with the new corten steel wall and pond.

Another corten steel addition is a lovely birdbath, bought as a Christmas gift by my mother. There is a good deal of tidying up to get done and some more planting to complete the area.

Another useful Christmas gift was an all-singing, all-dancing, weather station to show temperatures inside and out, barometer readings, humidity and weather forecasts to name but a few of its attributes.

I’m sure it will be very useful throughout the year.

I also received a few bulbs at Christmas too which I should be able to get away with planting if I’m quick.

I managed to plant many of the items I had to dig up before creating the new patio last November but still have a few more to relocate around the plot, assuming the ground is not too hard.

The Argus: Snowdrops at Whitemans CloseSnowdrops at Whitemans Close

If you are a snowdrop lover, then the National Garden Scheme has a small plot in Cuckfield you might like to pre book a visit to see, at the end of this month.

The property, 5 Whitemans Close, has over 150 different snowdrops for visitors to see on January 25, 27 and 30 along with several other dates in February too.

This is a fabulous garden visit for snowdrop and plant lovers alike. It is a relatively small cottage garden, packed full of exciting and unusual winter plants, in addition to the snowdrop collection, along with many hellebores and ferns. Importantly, all the snowdrops can be viewed from paths, so you can leave the wellies at home, but warm clothes are essential. All visits must be pre booked online at where full details can be found.

We need to ensure our gardens are great spaces for birds, especially at this time of the year.

Birds can make gardens even more beautiful and it can be so magical to sit outdoors in the summer and hear a song thrush, or great tit calling from flowering lilac trees.

I reckon it can give as much pleasure as growing perfect flowers. When a robin sings a wistful little tune at this time of year, doesn’t that make winter more bearable? I seem to have quite a few robins in the garden throughout the year and have been doing my best to keep them well fed, especially through the colder weather, late last year.

Looking around my garden there are a number of plants that are perfect for attracting them.

I have several standard holly shrubs and a large holly hedge front and back, and although their berries are often ripe by autumn, birds such as song thrushes and blackbirds don’t usually feed on them until late winter.

I’m not a lover of bare wooden fences, so all the fences at the side of the house are covered with ivy and it gets trimmed once a year, in readiness for a variety of birds to make their nest there.

Common wild ivy is the best for birds. This is the most wildlife-friendly plant, but it does need managing. It will provide dense cover along with winter berries and nectar.

In terms of trees, I planted a Swedish Whitebeam, which is good for birds.

Its distinctive, glossy lobed leaves with grey hairs on the undersides give a silver-grey appearance to this whitebeam.

Densely leafed, the rounded crown with a neat outline reaches up to 10m (33ft). Clusters of frothy white flowers appear along the branches in late spring providing nectar for insects, followed by bunches of shiny bright red berries in the autumn favoured by thrushes and blackbirds.

The berries stand out well against the golden shades of autumn leaf colour.

The Argus: Firethorn pyracanthaFirethorn pyracantha

The heaviest berry-bearer is the pyracantha, or fire thorn, I have a couple in the garden, one at the back and one close to the front door.

They can be pruned to almost any size or shape and are a bird magnet. They produce a white blossom then masses of winter berries but do also have vicious thorns. You can grow the shrub either as a hedge, wall plant or clipped to size in a large container.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at