With our February garden opening and a visit to my Mum out of the way, there has finally been an opportunity to catch up on outstanding ‘winter’ tasks, many of which had been postponed due to the ground being frozen for a number of weeks. Today, I made a start on dividing some of the very thick carpet of snowdrops, a job I usually manage before they begin flowering, very rough and readily digging up some of the most dense clumps, pulling them apart and replanting them where there are visible gaps. Pleasingly, the gaps are becoming fewer and farther between, even in those areas planted up more recently than the main woodland edge border, which had its first snowdrops around twenty years ago.
There is still more division to do, but the priority today was to finish emptying the 2021 compost heap, a task usually achieved before Christmas – but finally completed…hurrah! For some reason, however, the quality didn’t seem as good as usual, very dry perhaps – and gritty too…I must have disposed of more grit-covered pots of spent compost than I sometimes do! With an extra two months more disposal of vegetative matter, the 2022 heap will take even longer to empty when its turn comes!
In contrast to this slow and physical task, cutting back all the Group 3 clematis was a cinch – but making sure I didn’t miss any of them (there are quite a few!) was quite a challenge. Following guidance from Thorncroft Clematis, my go-to specialist supplier, I tidy them up in the autumn by cutting them back to around shoulder height, before cutting them right back about now, so this was a timely rather than outstanding task – as was a good feed, a new regime started last year which I think gave a noticeable boost to their performance.
Cutting back grasses in the small grass border was an easy task too, although the Stipa tenuissima still need a visit to their hairdresser to have their tresses combed through and detangled. I have heard that dog combs are good for this task…
Next to the grass border, climbing rose Parkdirektor Riggers has also received attention. I prune the rest of the climbing roses in the autumn and the shrub roses early in January, but this one gets left as late as possible because of the hips – although not usually as late as March! Structurally, it is not the most attractive rose and hard pruning doesn’t add to its beauty, but it makes up for it in terms of performance, flowering throughout summer and needing no attention whatsoever.
On the other side of the wall in the above picture are some trays of autumn sown Lagurus ovatus and nigella which I have decided to risk moving out of the greenhouse to save space (which is increasingly going to be at a premium), especially as I want to bring in the overwintering dahlias from the sitooterie and start watering them. With some colder nights forecast for this week, I have covered them with a netting cloche but would hope that as hardy annuals they will be tough enough to plant out soon anyway.
Meanwhile, in the greenhouse and not hindered by weather or other circumstances, my ongoing seed sowing is now joined by ongoing pricking out, doubling the use of space in one fell swoop – and my goodness, how I love this whole process! Sowing begins early in January and continues into April, with so much promise in every single seed, and all the annuals are generally planted out by the end of May or early June, with autumn sowing beginning only a few months later.
Perhaps other Six on Saturday contributors have been sowing seeds too – you could go across to our host Jim’s blog and take a look.