Monday 27 February 2012

Weekend in the garden.

It's been a beautiful, warm and sunny weekend so I abandoned any desk-work and went out and pottered.

Some of our 2010 potato crop
I planted up 4 large tubs with 2 potatoes each and covered them with 6 inches of compost. As the shoots appear I'll cover up a little more until the whole pot is full. This encourages more potatoes to form from the roots at each level. I used Santes saved from last year's crop. Last year's harvest wasn't very good because of the dry weather and they didn't keep well because it has been a warm winter. The potatoes left in store in the garage are already sprouting and aren't much good to eat so they may as well start off the new season's crop. May do some more in compost bags if I have time. It'll provide some nice new potatoes well before the main crop and in pots they tend to be clean and pest-free.

The weathermen are forecasting continued drought - dire warnings about hosepipe bans etc. It certainly is a big problem with the water table very low. The stream in the neighbouring filed is just a trickle. I suspect lack of water might have contributed to the demise of our Dawn Redwood which needs a lot of water.

I did a lot of tidying, dead-heading and pruning. The fern garden was overrun with spurge which was hiding the smaller ferns and snowdrops and helibores. I cleared out a lot of the spurge and also some bracken than had taken hold there.

The last job was to pick some sprouts to eat with the roast chicken for Sunday dinner and pulled the first rhubarb. The stems were only about 6ins but I could resist no longer. Delicious just baked with a sprinkling of sugar, served with custard and cream!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Spring has sprung...

or is it teasing again?

It's a lovely day - warm, sunny with a gentle breeze. Crocusses are blooming and the snowdrops are even more glorious.

I heard the cry of buzzards and looked up and saw two of these beautiful birds sailing effortlessly across the sky. Frogs have woken up and are crooning in the pond (well they are croaking what sounds like a gentle love song!).

And I've just seen the first bumblebee of the year!

Monday 20 February 2012

Winter reading

Winter is a good time to plan for the coming year and get some new ideas. Time to read some of the books I've been given for Christmas or bought and have stayed on the shelf. In general I'm not a fan of the gardening "experts" in newspapers and TV. They make it seem such hard work. But it's good to do a bit of learning from people who've done it before. I've really enjoyed reading On the Plot with Dirty Nails by Joe Hashman

This little book from Joe Hashman is a gem. It's a diary of bits and pieces of gardening information, tips, observations, and recipes week by week during the year. Interestingly Joe Hashman starts his year in February, perhaps because January doesn't really do very much. It's even too cold to weed and tidy and even February he does a lot of "tidying". It's a good book to dip into and wonder if I should be digging the bed yet or what seeds to sow. Not a book to read from start to finish in one go.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Rockery Heathers

We escaped the snow that was threatened this week. We just got a sprinkling on Thursday night, but it has been very cold - minus 5-ish overnight. Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue.

Bright purple heather flowering in February despite the frost
One of the cheerful spots in the garden is our rockery which has a number of purple, pink and reddish heathers. I was advised to trim them over after they have flowered, but I tried it on one and it took 2 years to regain the level of flowers I had when I just neglected it. Maybe I did it at the wrong time but in future I'll leave them alone and just prune from the base to keep them in trim.

I took these photos of the rockery and heather a last week before the snow.

View of our rockery in February 2012

Sunday 5 February 2012


Heavy snow last night - about 6 inches - but a beautiful sunny day and the snow has melted quite a lot.  Not much to do in the garden but tidy up. I was emptying old pots into the compost heap and a robin flew from the laurel bushes and briefly perched on my hat!
It's very cold tonight but jut a tad above freezing.

Friday 3 February 2012

Am I a galanthophile?

We have snowdrops everywhere. Patches in the borders are mostly single and fairly tall and coming into bloom. We have swathes of snowdrops planted in the lawn (term used rather loosely for our grassy bits between the beds & borders) which are doubles and much shorter. They are still mostly in bud and they make finding a safe path to walk on the grass somewhat difficult to avoid treading on their heads.

In a couple of weeks they will be in full bloom and gorgeous like this photo taken in February 2008:

Snowdrops are fascinating and very beautiful. The BBC website has an article about snowdrops and snowdrop fanciers apparently called "galanthophiles"

There are over 2000 varieties. I know ours are quite different and obviously increase by seeding (that's because we can't cut the lawn until after the daffodils have finished flowering) so maybe we have some new varieties if they cross-pollonate.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Arctic Cold

It's very cold with clear blue sky and plenty of sunshine. The fountain and the pond are iced over and the frost is not melting in the shade during the day. Little specs of snow are falling.
The bulbs - daffodils, hyacinths, bluebells - are still pushing up but with no sign of flowers. However, the snowdrops are doing fine and the helibores are blossoming. I'm glad I dug up some snowdrops and put in a pot for Mum to enjoy (she can't get out in the garden now).