It has been a very cold week here with heavy frosts and snow on Thursday evening. February has arrived and plans for the year to come are gathering pace. Seeds have been delivered and also, unexpectedly, asparagus crowns.
I ordered them on the understanding that despatch would be in February for planting out in March. They arrived a few days ago during the coldest spell of the winter. Much as I prefer to stay in the warm at these times I did plant out 125 snowdrops on a very sleety day in February a few years ago, I have form for gardening in the winter. This time I feel misled. I registered my concerns with the supplier who assures me that the majority of UK asparagus can now be planted any time over winter when the ground is not frozen. But my ground is frozen. I am therefore advised to store them temporarily with a covering of dry sand or compost which stops them drying out completely. This I have done. I now have my fingers very much crossed. Wish me luck. The supplier will be updating their website and I could be digging trenches this weekend.
As February has arrived I feel it is time to show a snow drop or two. As mentioned, I did have fun planting these! I planted them at the base of the fruit trees in the garden. One hundred and twenty five snowdrops do not go very far but they do take a long time to plant. I was hoping they would naturalise and spread themselves out into the empty spaces, but it looks as though that is going to take some time and I am sure that if I count them up I would be noting some as AWOL. Having said that they do look good in the snow.
A view of one section of the soft fruit beds in the snow and more evidence of winter gardening madness. Last weekend I decided it was time to cut back the autumn fruiting raspberries. It was a sunny morning and I was lured outside. I failed to factor in the wind chill – it was freezing but I pushed on. Once the secateurs were in action it was hard not to stop and the gooseberries also got some attention. They succumbed to a sawfly attack last year so I focused on opening up the middle of each bush. I still have the blackcurrants to do, they are budding up already.
Whilst stowing the asparagus crowns in the greenhouse I checked in on the overwintering pelagoniums. They seem to be looking okay. This is the first time I’ve tried overwintering and the gardening fingers are crossed for them too.
The delightful builder was very industrious when he visited recently and used up the wood left over from facing the breeze block walls of a raised bed to spruce up the large water storage tank. I’d always thought it was an ugly thing but it was functional. However I had coffee with my neighbour recently and realised she had a perfect sight line from her window direct to the water tank. It was not a pretty sight. I am pleased the left over wood got used up and perhaps the Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ that is hiding under the snow will be more inclined to creep up the sides now.
Lastly some variegated box capped with snow. Plain and simple. It forms one end of a hedge line separating the garden from the veg plot.
Interesting times these, for the SOS crowd. What is going on in their gardens or in their gardening minds? Mr P’s site will have all the answers. It may be February but there will be much to discover. Share your experiences too – here’s a participant guide.
After a few weeks away from these posts and the garden there is much to be done. No time for looking back on past successes and inevitably remembering all that didn’t get done. Here’s what is happening in my garden now.
The first buds on the Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii have appeared. I planted four as 9cm pots in Autumn 2016 and so this is the first flowering year. Although one of the four is still suffering from an unknown malaise, possibly too wet a position, the other three are romping away and giving me the beginning of a structure to the new border.
This is Hellebore Happy Day. I bought this from a market stall, seduced by the discounted price. On doing some research I discovered that it is a Hellebore Niger which has been specially developed for early flowering, mainly from October to December. I can confirm that it was early to flower and I am interested to see how long it keeps going. It is providing a good splash of brightness in the winter gloom.
Not yet in flower are these snowdrops. These are also part of the new garden planting. This time last year I dug out a good sized rectangle of grass around the fruit trees and on a cold and sleety day I planted about 100 snowdrops in the green along one edge of each of them. In retrospect I should have planted greater numbers to create a bigger impact. I will review them when they flower this year – one for a future six.
Getting to know a new garden is a long term process. Understanding which parts dry out soonest, which stay wet and soggy and which are the sunny corners takes several years. This osteospermum is a division of an existing plant that I moved in the summer. It was probably the wrong time to move it, but the parent plant was very leggy and I was trying to weed around it. Parts of the plant broke off as I tried to disentangle it. With a gardener’s optimism I dug a hole in a sunny corner and planted the divisions. I now know that the sunny corner is also very sheltered as the osteospermum has continued to flower through the winter. Now I need to see what else will enjoy that spot.
Here’s a view of one corner of the veg patch. The last of the parsnips have been pulled and eaten. I grew Tender and True from seed planted in late April. The other beds were for Carrots Nantes 2, Cucumber, Onions and Shallots. The cardboarded raised bed was for courgettes and sweet peas. The far bed was the cut flower patch, which will host potatoes this year. I’m a semi planner. I won’t be doing multi coloured charts but I will rotate crops and I will be planting more varieties this year. There may be a pencil plan in a notebook but I think that will be it! I will share the progress here.
Saving the best for last, this morning I collected my new Niwaki herbaceous sickle from the post office. I can’t wait to use it. The borders are in need of a tidy but this morning we had the first frost for many weeks and I shouldn’t be walking on the frosted grass. I can do along the paths and maybe there will be time when the frost has melted. I came across this tool in Thomas Stone’s blog Christmas gift ideas for the gardener in your life. I am sure I am going to be tempted by more of Thomas’ suggestions. Christmas may be over but the gardening carries on!
I hope you have some time to enjoy your garden or allotment this weekend. Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday. Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession