Six on Saturday: a Cold Week

Temperatures have barely made it above freezing this week although, at -5°C, our lowest temperature was not as cold as in some areas and we only had a sprinkling of snow – but the little we had has lingered on borders and pots. We were due to open our garden for the NGS tomorrow and although cancelled for COVID reasons it would have been a sorry sight for visitors, with snowdrops (above) and hellebores (below) lying prone and other foliage looking crinkled and brittle. For most plants, the first sign of positive temperatures will see them perk up instantly, and I shall remain optimistic until fatalities prove me wrong. I was going to record a video tomorrow to show what visitors would have been able to see, but delaying it for a couple of days would certainly produce a more interesting result!

It must have been slightly milder at the beginning of the week, as I happily spent an hour or so digging out bluebell and wild garlic bulbs where they had spread into the paths through the woodland – I had been hoping to retain the bluebell bulbs and replant them elsewhere in the woodland but when it came to it I couldn’t differentiate between them, as they were only just beginning to shoot and the smell wasn’t as obvious as you might think, and I certainly didn’t want any more of the latter. The Golfer was surprised to hear I was disposing of them in our green waste bin and not offering them to others – not sure if I would offer wild garlic to my worst enemies, but if anyone does want a bluebell/wild garlic mix our green waste won’t be emptied for at least a couple of weeks… 😉

The rest of my six are not any more inspiring than this inauspicious start, and continue with my dahlia tubers, overwintered for the first time in dry soil in the greenhouse instead of under the bed in the house, wrapped in newspaper. They have certainly overwintered better this way, with no shrivelling and negligible rotting, and I will stick with this in future. They were retrieved from the boxes of soil last Sunday and potted up in mostly the same soil with some fresh soil where needed, but shall leave them till temperatures pick up before I start watering them.

Whilst in the greenhouse I noticed some of the overwintering lilies were beginning to shoot, so made the effort to refresh the top few inches of soil before regular watering started again:

As growth in the greenhouse begins, it is clear a good tidy-up is in order, with seedlings now vying with cuttings for space – sadly, it is still too early to tell whether some cuttings are dead or just slumbering. It may be a squeeze, but I have managed other years, so guess I shall manage this season too!

Emerging from the shelter of the greenhouse, the snow and cold this week highlighted something I might have otherwise missed – that there are tulip shoots emerging. I suspect they were camouflaged by foliage of the overplanted bellis, but the snow covering shows the shoots poking above this, providing a further indicator that spring is on the horizon – which the optimistic amongst us already know of course!

So, there you have my not-very-interesting Six on Saturday – perhaps if you visit our host Jon the Propagator you might find some more inspiring contributions!

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32 Responses to Six on Saturday: a Cold Week

  1. Cathy I am very sorry for the snow wave and the intense cold you have. I hope that very soon the temperatures will rise and the snow will disappear completely. While you and the golfer take good care of themselves and be very careful with the snow that turns into ice when you walk and better stay at home warm and safe. It is a shame to see the snowdrop and hellebore fallen in the snow: I hope that when the temperature rises, they will both recover completely. Too bad that after digging up the bluebell and wild garlic bulbs you couldn’t tell them apart to keep the bluebells, and they all ended up in the green scraps bucket. Wonderful things happen in the Greenhouse. The dahlia tubers are fantastic. The irises that were wintering are already emerging. You are starting to lack room for the seedlings you already have and that many more will come and the cuttings: I would do like you, give the cuttings a chance until the end, some are lazy to take. What happens in the Greenhouse I love it and I love it! How magnificent and fantastic that you have tulip buds in the snow! Spring is one step away 😀🌷 Happy weekend. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you Margarita. The temperature is all relative, and being an optimistic and positive person I take it as it comes. Has it been particularly cold for you?

      • No, it’s been cold but I take shelter and I don’t care about the cold. What makes my body sick is the heat, from 33ºC, I feel bad: but I have no choice but to resist it, even if I am dizzy all day, without supporting the sun or with sunglasses and I “explode” my head and not being able to breathe well if I am not at rest. I hate the heat of summer and I love Fall, winter and spring. With the wave of snow and cold from “Filomena” I went out to the street at -5ºC and I was so comfortable and that I had to walk on piles of frozen snow juggling not to fall. I like cold. I hate excessive heat. Have a great week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

        • Cathy says:

          So is Madrid still covered in the snow and ice from that early snowfall? It will be well compacted now. I agree that a winter walk is a lovely thing to do, particularly if the sun is shining, – I have been able to walk on the fields again recently because the ground is frozen and no longer muddy

          • No Cathy, there is no snow or ice left: they left with the torrential rains that came three weeks after the big snowfall. But I loved walking on the frozen snow when they cleaned up a bit. And 26 years ago, when I was a mountaineer with my beloved dog Rufo, I loved to go to the Madrid Mountains to do a route on the snow, as long as it was sunny and the weather forecast was good and clear for the area. In the snowy mountains you have to take many precautions and many security measures, because the weather changes in minutes. But it is wonderful to be in the snow, very early, on the mountain, walking on it and playing with my dog ​​may he rest in peace, because he was a great mountaineer and he found the trails by himself at intersections, it was great! What good memories! Cathy sorry she told you, but it was many years of mountaineering enjoying nature. Take good care of yourself and stay safe. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

          • Cathy says:

            I am sorry you are no longer able to enjoy walks in the montains, Margarita – they must have brought you such joy in the past

          • Thanks Cathy. She ended up being a mountaineer with the work accident and its aftermath. Now I can only take walks in the countryside and climb the slopes, making stops, of the hills that surround my cottage: this is the closest thing to “mountaineering” I can do, but it is wonderful to get lost in the forest of the hills. Here in Madrid I walk through the parks, but I have to take the car and go to large parks that I like and parking is increasingly difficult, and with the Covid I prefer to stay at home because people lower their masks in the parks and do huddles of many people even without a mask: they do not comply with Covid safety standards. In my country house there is enough forest to get lost and not meet anyone, except a roe deer. There if it is safe to walk. Cathy forgives her for explaining me, but I really miss my country house and the walks there: enjoying the garden and nature. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

          • Cathy says:

            I hope you will get to the country house before this year is out

          • Cathy, I hope so too. Thanks a lot. A very affectionate greeting from Margarita.

  2. Pauline says:

    It has been a bitter week with such strong gales making it even colder. We have only had a tiny sprinkling of snow on a few days, but the icy wind has taken its toll with some of the hellebores, I don’t know if some of them will recover as usual. The snowdrops seem fine, thank goodness and now thankfully the temperature is due to rise. Like you , I have tulip bulbs popping up now, lovely to see new growth amongst all the icyness!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, the tulips toook me completely by surprise! We had some gusty winds last weekend (when it wasn’t as cold) but it has been very calm here since, with gloriously sunny days most of the week. I know we have had much colder temperature before, but it is the prolonged cold periods that are likely to do the damage I suppose

  3. We usually get our fill of wild garlic when we go up to the caravan where it grows in the lanes nearby. Do you use it in cooking? There can never be an ideal time to open your garden to visitors in February Cathy. I think that tomorrow will be warmer but wet and windy too but no doubt you will still perhaps feel at little wistful at what might have been. Look forward to seeing your video when things warm up 😄

    • Cathy says:

      I remember the first time I came across it in the wild – an amazing experience! I have used it in the past but tend to forget – the Golfer won’t have anything with proper garlic in but this wouldn’t affect him. It’s strange about the opening, as before Christmas I thought everything was going to be early, but in fact many are well behind last year

  4. You are busy, busy! I imagine your Hellebores and Snowdrops will be OK; it happens to me frequently here in my northern U.S. climate and they bounce back if you soon have some warmer weather. Yes, your greenhouse collection looks very promising. Here’s to spring that’s just around the corner!

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it’s all perfectly normal and it’s only the extreme winters, which in the UK are few and far between, when we might lose some less hardy plants

  5. tonytomeo says:

    Are bluebells or wild garlic a species of Tulbaghia?

  6. Noelle M says:

    Your SOS at this time of the year just shows all the work and planning required. Those trays of pots look very neat.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, I didn’t think of it like that but I guess you are right! If we had still been opening this Feb I would have been busy tidying and tweaking for weeks so I have been saved that this time round! The seed sowing and then pricking out, etc becomes a production line from January onwards – which is why I need to tidy the g/h before the next stage starts as it needs twice as much space!

  7. Annette says:

    I guess these kind of temperatures are most unusual for your part of the world, Cathy. Thankfully, as sad as they may look right now, the plants will usually lift their little heads when it gets milder. It must be a pleasure to work in the greenhouse now (which looks so organised and tidy). I’d have love the bluebell wild garlic mix 😀 . Whereas bluebells do so well here the garlic refuses to settle which is a pity as we love it. Keep warm xx

  8. Pádraig says:

    Your greenhouse looks great! It’s a good problem to have in mig-February.
    I’m wondering should I have brought my three lilies indoors for winter? Here’s hoping they will be OK….

    • Cathy says:

      I suppose that’s one way of looking at it! I think there are more overwintering plants than usual because we didn’t have our June NGS opening so some will be unsold cuttings from the previous year. The logistics certainly can be touch and go at times, as it goes from quarter seed trays to pricking out into 12 cell half trays, then potting on into 6s, ie doubling space each time! And some bedding plants are bought in as plug plants so there will be those to contend with as well- but I will hope to be planting out some hardy annuals by then, and the overwintered things will be outside by then too. Re the lilies, it is only in the last couple of years that I started bringining mine in, and they seem to do better for it. It probably depends on the lily (mine are mostly Asiatic) and your weather (how frosty you get)

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