I have been struggling to get motivated in the garden this year, it’s not been the weather, although the last few days with two storms have been pretty grim. In January we had quite a bit of sunshine and some nice crisp days with lots of beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
I have been busy being creative for my customers with new borders and new vistas but my garden hasn’t changed and I have only ordered my seeds for the allotment today. Unfortunately my polytunnel blew over in storm Eunice so I don’t have anywhere to sow them yet, but it’s a start.
I despair when I look at my own patch, there is so much to do, but today I sowed some vegetable seeds in a customer’s, only slightly broken, greenhouse and did a bit more to the allotment.
I have decided to dig up my strawberry bed because strawberry plants don’t really have a very long productive life and they are really diseased as you can see. They came up more easily than I had expected as it turns out they are also suffering with vine weevil grubs eating the roots. I will replace with some new stock somewhere else, probably not as many.
One of my many jobs to do is make compost bins but meanwhile I am combining digging over and turning the compost pile and topping up the raised bed with the good stuff.
That’s what we are all saying at the moment! The days are really drawing out, I was outside until past 5.00 at the weekend, and sunset is after 17.20.
Since the last post, we have had the predicted cold snap. Lots of snow, drifts, icicles, bitterly cold wind and near or below freezing temperatures for a week. We were snowed in for a couple of days and I couldn’t work for the whole week. Really it was nothing compared to countries that have proper cold winter with snow for much longer but I did get fed up with being cold.
And then just like that, it got warmer and melted, leaving everywhere wet again. But things are looking up, I got given some garlic bulbs that hadn’t sold so I have planted some in pots to use as leaves, some in the garden and some at the pub garden. They are not proper treated bulbs for planting but it’s worth a try.
And my seed potatoes arrived from Pennards Plants . I usually go to my local potato day and have great fun choosing lots of different varieties but it isn’t on this year. Pennards do have a good selection, it just doesn’t have the same buzz as a gathering of lots of people all interested in buying and selling potatoes and other horticultural supplies.
I won’t be planting them until at least April so I will have to keep them cool, I don’t do chitting but they may sprout a bit anyway by then.
Then this weekend, it got a lot warmer, up to 13°C. It felt properly spring like although we mustn’t get too excited, there are probably many more cold and grey days to come. Nevertheless I went grocery shopping and came back with dahlia corms, something else which will have to wait, and peonies in those boxes which are usually full of shrivelled up plants. This time I got lucky, bits of peony roots just starting to grow which I have potted up and put in the polytunnel. No pictures but I might go and get some more while they are still in good condition.
The other thing I have been doing, with the new season in mind, is creating a village seed swap. We are only a small village so it has been easy enough to gather the seeds, make a list, sent out on the village email, and now I am starting to distribute seeds to people that want them. I am charging a small amount, 20p -50p per packet in aid of the woodland see the blog here, if there are no swaps, but it is really to promote sustainability rather than make money. Next year a proper event hopefully.
The salad in the polytunnel survived the snow and I have had the first picking of mustard wasabi leaves.
The flower seeds have also mostly grown well and I have started pricking out Ammi. I have rather a lot.
It has been so nice to have some warmer weather, just to have a few less layers on and get the washing on the line. There will be a few more frosty nights to look out for but there is hope for summer and getting out and about again
I said that I wasn’t going to take so many snowdrop pictures this year, as I have loads I from previous years, but the drifts are just reaching their peak and I can’t resist. The flowers are opening out now but the cold and wet weather mean that they are lasting well.
Well, here we are in February and, apart from a few sunny days, it has still been mostly cold and wet. I am not able to work in some of my gardens due to the waterlogged ground, I am really hoping to get going again this month.
As I write this, I have enjoyed a couple of days of mild weather, with hints of spring, but we are forecast another “beast from the east” bringing snow and freezing conditions; so I have rescued a couple of plants from the floods and fleeced the seedlings in my polytunnel.
On a more positive note, ‘my’ fruit cage is very nearly finished and the new fruit arrived and planted. I ordered it from James McIntyre and Sons and it arrived quickly. I have gooseberries and blackcurrants, saved from the old fruit cage, and a new selection of raspberries, strawberries and a redcurrant. It’s not really my fruit cage but the customer and Trev, who built it, both refer to it as “your” and I’m in charge!!
As well as the snowdrops, the hellebores are also putting on a good show and shoots of the peonies are beginning to show.
I have got on well with the muck spreading at the pub with a bit of help from my son. I have also added to the fruit bushes there with red, white and pink currants and an Aronia. The loganberry from the old fruit cage has also been relocated here where there is more space for it to grow.
In other news, I have enrolled on a distance learning garden design course. I have so far enjoyed the buying of materials and setting myself up with some office space but I am finding the measuring and drawing difficult, which is what I expected. I am looking forward to getting to the plant bit and I will update as I go along.
Meanwhile, here’s some more pictures of a Daphne humming with bees on a warm day and more glistening snowdrops.
Chippenham Park Gardens is in Cambridgeshire, not far from Newmarket, and shouldn’t be confused with the other Chippenham in Wiltshire! I found it in the RHS The Garden magazine and was delighted to find it was open on my birthday and less than an hour from home. It’s not open all the time so check the website before visiting Here
It started with a walled kitchen garden, a bit bare in February, but we were able to peek at the pelagoniums overwintering in the greenhouse and admire the brassicas, then out into trees and grass and the snowdrops begin. You can make your own way round the garden, so we started with the fountain garden at the front.
We meandered past the tennis court to the lake and then over the Japanese bridge into the trees. Here there were lots of snowdrops and they got denser the further we went.
This area is ‘The Wilderness’ and ‘Snowdrops walks’
We took lots of photos!
Walking back to the tearooms we spotted bees in the crocus.
After warming up with lunch we walked along the long border and went through the wall to the Hare Hall gardens.
The leylandii arches from the mound and we enjoyed spinning the seat round to get a panoramic view.
We walked back along ‘Adrians Walk’ which goes round both sides of the top of the lake. It is packed with hellebores and dwarf irises and more bees enjoying the afternoon sun and sweet scents of the Daphne and Sarcococca.
I will definitely be back, maybe to see the roses in the summer or the Acer walk in the autumn.
It’s been a busy month starting with the first snowdrops finally appearing and ending with the first daffodil!
I have pruned – wisteria, apple trees, various shrubs and lots and lots of roses.
Standing about and thinking has occurred as I ponder what needs to be dug out and what could be moved. Work has also begun on actual digging and moving too!
There has still been a bit of cutting back to do of the last perennials and deciduous grasses ready for the new growth which is now happening.
The weather has been typically British, ranging from snow to warm enough to cut grass in a t-shirt but mostly grey and cold. Not forgetting storm Doris which caused a bit of disruption too!
Seeds have been sown, seedlings have grown and seed beds have been prepared ready for planting out next month, hopefully. And slugs have appeared right on cue to have an early salad grr!
So far so good, the gardens are under control but with a long list of jobs for next month which is only tomorrow. Just as I get bored of snowdrops the next phase arrives, here come the daffodils and anemones!