Trees and memory

Light is precious as autumn gives way to winter. With sunshine and clear skies, today was perfect for planting trees. I’ve put some evergreens in at the top of the field. Partly to remove a future view of the new housing estate on the other side of the tracks. Partly to provide a backdrop for future deciduous trees in the field. Partly because I like conifers. There’s 24 in place now – they seem very vulnerable in the open field but I’m hoping they’ll do OK. IMG_1105

Pinus wallichiana, a wonderful gift, has a great church view and – in the future – beyond.IMG_1107

The hedgerow looking quite wild, in need of weeding – but great, strong growth this year.IMG_1114

Chimneys of Snakesbury and the woodland beyond.IMG_1115

Three newly-planted Acer rubrum; the edge of a future clearing in the future woodland.IMG_1120

The big cherry lost most of its leaves in a single week. Soon to sleep.IMG_1099

Deciduous larch catches fire in the low afternoon light.IMG_1124

Through the hedge.IMG_1129

Classic autumn hues of cotinus and beech.IMG_1135

Recent visits by the heron have depleted the pond but there’s still life in there.IMG_1127

Some very sad news this week. Poppy is no longer with us. She was the most wonderful dog. I planted this Koelreuteria paniculata in her memory. Forever in a field in England.IMG_1102

Poppy. You will be missed.14842353110_cd122d8919_o


Colour before the fall

Deciduous plants are nearing their prime in terms of colour. Autumn has as much interest as spring – if not more – with small dramas breaking out all over the garden.


I want more of these cyclamen.

It is the time of the aster..


..and the liriope.


A callicarpa (for Babs)..


Miscanthus are perfect in this light..




..and liriodendron is butter yellow against an evening contrail.

The variety of colour this year is quite incredible. Perhaps the long hot summer has something to do with it.

A good year for fruiting trees too with an abundance of berries for the birds to feast on.

Time feels suspended – if only by wanting it to be. Winter’s on it’s way but an amazing show is happening in the meanwhile. Lots to do, lots to look at too.

So, so cold

The sun is out, the sky is blue – and it’s freezing. Looks like the forecasters got it right this time; a bitterly cold wind (Russian, allegedly) blowing from the east makes it really unpleasant to be outside for any length of time, even with full fat hat scarf gloves and multiple layers. In all this cold the Cornus mas is flowering for the first time, which I found very exciting. IMG_3547

The temperature inside the poly tunnel dropped below -4 last night, and the forecast is for even colder during the week. Hedgerow delivery day (next Tuesday) is forecast to be -2 during the day with snow, dropping to -5 at night. The coldest February in years. The hedgerow plants will have to be stored on some damp compost in the stables until the ground thaws enough to plant them out.

All the new seedlings have been brought indoors, the echiums have been wrapped in fleece, the birds have been given extra fatballs. Now all we can do is hope for minimal damage. I will mostly be fireside until slightly milder weather returns. IMG_0045

Lizards and sunshine

Today we started preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of 1400 hedgerow plants which will be delivered next week. Glorious sun, blue skies and completely calm; a complete turn-around from the last few days.IMG_3515Clearing is a multi-stage project; first is the removal of bits of wood metal and corrugated iron, then its strimming, then raking away the strimmed remains, then mowing with a close blade to get as much of the grass and weeds out as possible. Its a long process, but on day like today enjoyable and rewarding. At sundown we had completed about a third of the area – luckily I will be able to do more during the week. IMG_3517Lifting some bits of metal I disturbed 4 lizards in their cozy winter hibernation home. They were completely drowsy in the bright light so we quickly relocated them to another part of the garden for the rest of winter. I’m really excited to see them here – lizards in England! IMG_3512The warmth of the sun today transitioned very quickly; sunset brought cold air which flowed down the field and chased us indoors to a warm fire. I hope the lizards will make it though this cold.IMG_3516

Growing for borders

There’s 2 greenhouses at Snakesbury. They were inherited from previous owners, and although they are within the walled garden they have taken the brunt of all of the storms . The cool greenhouse (without a door) is used mainly for potting and nurturing newly hardened plants, whereas the warm greenhouse (with a door) is used for seeds in autumn/winter/spring and then for tomatoes in the summer. IMG_3297Here’s a view from the warm greenhouse. The wind has blown the whole structure sideways – cracking some of the panes in the process. Doesn’t seem to be too detrimental to the plants – here’s some Stipa tenuissima and Morina longifolia that were sown in the autumn and have been patiently waiting out the winter since germinating.IMG_3299IMG_3300These will all go out into the borders – probably around March or April.

I started work on the borders today – a little early but I think a good time for moving the massive Cephalaria gigantea to a bed for giants in the driveway. I also took the opportunity to cut back some of the taller remnants of last year’s perennials. Again, this is early but I noticed that a few of them were rocking themselves out of the ground – a combination of high winds and wet soil. Its amazing what you reveal when cutting back – strong growth is very evident everywhere. I’m sure it is early for spring growth, but then maybe not?IMG_3305.jpgI have left the grasses and most of the other perennials alone for now – they continue to look fantastic.IMG_3304