A sunny Sunday in February is a great thing. Today was warm and bright all day. The sun coaxed so many early spring flowers out – along with lots of bees and 3 microlight aircraft which flew directly overhead in v-formation, lawnmowers in the sky. Sudden bright colour after the dourness of winter. Here’s some macro shots.
This is a tiny alpine crocus, its name unknown to me.
Hamamelis .x intermedia ‘Barnstedt Gold’
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Jelena’
Filling the area with delicious scent is this Sarcococca confusa
And more delicious scent from this Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’
Wonderful crocus are emerging in some very unlikely places
Some early Narcissus ‘tete a tete’
Hellebores are still going strong one month on
I sat near these crocus and caught some rays – it almost felt like spring.
Cold for a few weeks now – down as low as -6 degrees in the polytunnel. A big fall of snow just up the road but nothing here apart from thick frost that persists all day in the shady parts of the garden. Today the sun shone, and although it only reached 4 degrees somehow if felt like a transition to something a little warmer.
White lines of birch against a blue February sky.
Earlier than last year, I decided that today would be stage one of the long borders preparation. This involves cutting down all the skeletal remains of last year’s growth. They’ve been looking great all winter – but in the bright light of a February morning they were starting to look a little tired. Here’s a before shot:This big clump of miscanthus will be moved in April when it warms up a bit – after 3 years it has outgrown its position. This year I used my new Niwaki herbaceous sickle – a brilliant Japanese tool made for harvesting rice and perfect for cutting perennials. I’m pretty sure that the whole process took roughly half as long as previous years – and I don’t feel any RSI in my wrists from constant use of secateurs. Highly recommended!Very quickly both sides of the borders were done, and five trips to the compost heap with the trolley completed the job. The sun can now reach the new growth for the first time. Next stage will be to clear between each plant, removing weeds and dead leaves, then applying a layer of mulch. That will have to wait for the next sunny weekend – although the days are getting longer it was already late afternoon by the time I finished.Enough time for a quick springwatch walk to check on progress. Unfortunately no residents in the Snakesbury quack house yet..Really cold in the old orchard along the edge of the field – the sun is too low in the sky to reach here until March. There’s a plum that has blossomed really early in previous years, but no sign of life from it yet. February.
Another year, another winter – now halfway through. It’s been a mild winter generally but this week has been colder with snow forecast over the coming week. Hopefully not another beast, but some cold is welcome; combined with clear sunny days almost the perfect winter weather. I was surprised to see lots of activity in the garden, but then looking back realised that it’s not any earlier than last year.
Hamamelis glowing in the low midday sun.
This auricula is very early, the only one to flower so far.
Iris unguicularis has been flowering since mid December, a wonderfully resilient and rewarding plant.
Hellebores are always a very welcome sight – these are starting to spread by self-seeding.
Winter honeysuckle fills the whole area with delicate lemony fragrant loveliness.
Bare stems of spindle, dogwood and ghost bramble, owning their space at this time of year.
Twisted hazel catkins are an early sign of spring.
Viburnum tinus – sadly not fragrant but flowering none the less.
These are brilliantly fragrant though; chimonanthus, daphne and mahonia.
There’s a very cold buck sheltering on the patio.
And a layer of ice on the pond.
The elder is looking very upright (and due for a trim).
The first frost of the year; it seems like winter is here. On the plus side, annual weeds have flopped into mush. The last leaves are falling, revealing the underlying structure of trees. Days are short, the darkness longer every night. The best place is fireside. When morning comes the frosted garden is worth getting cold for. These sedums hold the frost well.The last of the medlars, bletted, now frozen, soon to return to earth.The long borders are being shaped by the frost.Leonotis seedbeds will persist through the harshest winter weather.Gunnera is not nearly as resilient.The weekend brought more rain which made for slightly warmer soil, so I planted some bareroot trees and shrubs: 10 each of guelder rose, wayfaring tree, bird cherry, hornbeam and spindle. That brings the total to 96 planted so far this season, with another 240 to go. The new woodland is starting to take shape..
Autumn colour has reached its ultimate; from here on the colour falls and seeps away into the damp earth. Frosts are starting to knock the more delicate leaves back to earth too. Owl hoots echo through the dark early evenings and into the long nights.
These sedum take on an anaemic look as their colours drain away.A few red berries remain – full of sugar, an attractive autumn snack for birds.The spindle reds go beyond natural, and then they are gone.Cotinus: no smoke but lots of fire.Dogwood leaves drop to reveal their black upright stems.Rowan, red enough to take a position in the field.Prunus ‘Collingwood Ingram’ and liquidambar Pinus radiata: a cone for Christmas.Acer rubrum: nearly lost the lot now but they were incredible.Parrotia persica catching the last of the evening light in the last of its leaves.Rhus glabra ‘Laciniata’ in a delicate moment before final fall.
Soon most of the colour will have gone to ground, the leaves will be away and the low sun won’t really warm the ground. Winter is coming.
Autumn mornings are damp and heavy with dew. Mist flows downhill and gathers in areas where it is obstructed.
The sun rises late these days; usually after we have left for work so we miss how it catches the last of the mist.
The deciduous plants are hanging on to their leaves for now, slowly changing colour every day with some spectacular results.
Autumn is the perfect season for propagation. I’ve been busy splitting perennials, planting seeds and bulbs and doing cuttings. There’s also more than 200 trees to be planted in the next month or so but the shorter days catch me by surprise and it’s dark before I know it. Winter is coming and soon it will be time to rest and plan, but in the meanwhile there’s work to be done.