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.
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.
Pinus wallichiana, a wonderful gift, has a great church view and – in the future – beyond.
The hedgerow looking quite wild, in need of weeding – but great, strong growth this year.
Chimneys of Snakesbury and the woodland beyond.
Three newly-planted Acer rubrum; the edge of a future clearing in the future woodland.
The big cherry lost most of its leaves in a single week. Soon to sleep.
Deciduous larch catches fire in the low afternoon light.
Through the hedge.
Classic autumn hues of cotinus and beech.
Recent visits by the heron have depleted the pond but there’s still life in there.
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.
Poppy. You will be missed.
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.
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.
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.