It has been a strange fortnight, beginning as it did with Christmas Day on a Monday; with leap years, I think this must be the first Christmas since I finished work that has fallen on a Monday and somehow it seems to have created a lot of…well, SPACE! Various regular activities have not been happening because of the festivities and the poor Golfer has not played golf for over two weeks because of frost, flood or fog so we have been rattling round at home rather more than we normally would.
We have certainly not been idle, but have had to turn to more inside pursuits when the weather has not been clement enough for walks or garden tasks, which has been often. Odd hours have been snatched outside where possible, and I am pleased that 2016’s compost has almost all been distributed around the various beds in the garden , leaving the last to be shovelled into bags for later use. Disappointingly, the leaves gathered and bagged last year had not yet fully broken down into lovely leaf mould, so these will need to be stacked out of the way somewhere to rot down further, Last year the bags were heaped on top of the resting compost pile but this had the unintended effect of compressing the compost so won’t be repeated. There are even more bags of leaves from this year too, but I am now of a mind to recycle some of them as the amount of compost and leaf mould I can use in the garden is not infinite.
Shifting the compost is one of the rites of passage of the season, as it means I can start a new heap in its place, so those snatched hours were most useful, but strenuous too. Another such rite is winter pruning the wisteria, which I nominally carry out on Christmas Eve but was a day earlier this year and made hugely easier by the purchase of lighter stainless steel scaffolding instead of the heavy steel scaffolding we have lugged about in the past. You can see from the photo how we have extended the pergola across the path which in time will mean walking under a floriferous clematis archway.
Other seasonal tasks have included tidying up the viticella clematis, guidance from Thorncroft Clematis suggesting they can be partially cut down to about 3 feet now, then cut right back later, which has certainly improved their looks although sadly there is still a tangled bird’s nest of C alpina over the top of the colonnade. I am wondering whether to cut back all these spring flowering clematis once they have finished flowering, to rejuvenate them and tidy up the tangled mess – and the lattice could be replaced or at least repainted at the same time. Has anyone else done a drastic overhaul of their C alpinas before? There is also a small project planned for the far end, but on hold until our neighbour has replaced the fence panel.
A certain amount of time has inevitably been spent on gazing – at witch hazels, cornus snowdrops and the healthy seedlings filling the greenhouse! When all the witch hazels are out I shall probably write a post featuring them, but in the meantime feast your eyes on Jelena, with Ruby Glow and Zuccarinia just coming into flower behind her on the left and right respectively:
The early arrival of some snowdrops last year was a welcome sight, but now they are pushing through the freshly spread compost thick and fast, being ticked off my list with relief when they appear. Summer in this bed sees hardy geranium and some annuals in flower, all white, and a general white/green theme; I am wondering however, whether to move the geraniums and stick just to annuals in future, to restrict competition from the roots of these sometimes thuggish perennials.
I would need to work hard to create a good selection of white and green annuals, but I am sure it can be done – they just need to be added to my vast seed list! Chloris talked in her recent post about her seed list heading towards the £100 mark and I can easily see why – I tend to be haphazard with my seed purchases, buying from eBay as and when the thought or desire takes me, but I now need to sit down and do an inventory of what I have and is still justifiably required. More to the point, WHERE are seedlings going to go once the seeds are sown? One end of the greenhouse is already pretty full of autumn sown seeds, whereas the other has trays of plants overwintering or just reluctant to get themselves planted; I know I have a little more space this year with the greenhouse extension, but judicious juggling will still be required!
I don’t suppose I shall be the only gardener trying to squeeze as many plants as possible into their greenhouses and gardens during this coming season – and as it has been very quiet amongst this garden blogging community recently I suspect others are also splitting their time between tidying and general maintenance of their gardens when the weather permits and planning and ordering from the warmth and coziness of their houses when it doesn’t. Hopefully the absence of posts is not instead the result of being confined to bed with one of the winter bugs that have been going round. See you all again soon!