Winter planting

I’ve been taking advantage of the mild weather – with soft soil after all the rain it is the perfect time for planting. Today’s session started at first light around 07:00, was interrupted by heavy showers all through the day, and ended at 15:40 sunset. In a productive day like today I can plant about 60 trees. So far this year I have planted about 190.

The process involves the removal of 2 square foot of turf, digging, dipping the tree in a gel suspension of mycorrhizal fungi, planting, wrapping the tree with a bunny guard and then staking it with a cane. This weekend I planted alder buckthorn, lime, wild pear, paper bark birch, silver birch and jacquemontii birch.

These are the jacquemontii birch, grown from seed this year. There’s 62 in this (future) thicket.IMG_1168


Hopefully they will grow as fast as the silver birch which seem to do roughly 1.5m a year at Snakesbury.

This is a (future) avenue of small leaved lime.IMG_1170

Here’s some bird cherry, spindle and wayfaring trees.IMG_1176

It’s good to have these planted in December before the ground gets frozen. And although it’s more like a plastic woodland at the moment within a few years it will start to turn into a real woodland. The journey is wonderful and I’m grateful every day to be doing this.IMG_1166


Winter: now here

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.IMG_1140The last of the medlars, bletted, now frozen, soon to return to earth.IMG_1138The long borders are being shaped by the frost.IMG_1154Leonotis seedbeds will persist through the harshest winter weather.IMG_1150Gunnera is not nearly as resilient.IMG_1163The 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..


The snow appears to have moved on to other parts of the UK, replaced by ice. The ice rain makes a layer on top of the snow, sealing everything below. It freezes onto the widows – instant obscured glass.


Our kind neighbour helped out again, ploughing the snow from the driveway so we can at least make it out into the world. Kent has been transformed.


The most recent forecast is for “less cold” over the weekend. Hopefully spring will start soon.

Snowday IV

The combined devilry of the ‘beast from the east’ and storm Emma have held temperatures below -5 overnight, blowing the snow into knee-deep drifts.


All this snow doesn’t seem quite so exciting today. Maybe the novelty is wearing off. Certainly the grey skies and howling wind don’t help, but I didn’t want to be outside for very long. Even the pond is slowly being assimilated into the whiteness.IMG_3681

The summerhouse stands in high contrast to the white field.IMG_3682

And Tommy-all-alone is looking quite…alone.IMG_3683

We are snowbound; our car has been immobilised by the cold and the driveway is basically one big snowdrift.IMG_3676IMG_3680

Thankfully our very kind neighbour has offered to do some essential shopping for us. We have a big pile of logs and we’re going to use them.

Snowday III

Another blanket of snow last night – and an electric blanket in bed. I woke up at about 4am; deeply quiet outside, -7 degrees, fairly chilly. The new snow is more crystalline and in the morning sun puts a sparkle on everything it touches.

Now there’s a good covering of snow on the ground most of the smaller plants are covered, which makes the trees really stand out. Here’s the mulberry looking even more amazing than yesterday.IMG_0842

And this one shows the quantity of snow – we think it must be about 5 inches by now.IMG_0830.jpg

This one will make a great Christmas card.IMG_0383.jpg

Catalpa taking the strain.IMG_3652.jpg

This larch looks quite stately.IMG_3666.jpg

Delivery update: our driver ended up in a ditch (he’s OK) just up the road from us. We drove up to see if we could decant the plants but the pallet they’re on is too large and can’t be split for procedural reasons beyond my comprehension. Unfortunately the rescue party couldn’t make it down the hill either, so we are waiting for a reschedule. Hopefully the hedgerow plants will be OK in the back of a van somewhere until then. We wouldn’t have been able to plant anyway with all the snow and frozen ground, so things will probably work out for the best in the end..(to be continued)..

Snowday II

We woke up to find a real blanket of snow this morning. There’s a quietness to the snow, it seems to absorb most sound. And everybody has stayed home. The garden has been re-modelled – plants take on new forms where they poke through the snow.


The underlying structure of the garden is laid out in stark white, a useful way of seeing how the individual areas work with the overall design.IMG_0774IMG_0773IMG_0764

The mulberry tree has caught snow in a fabulous way.IMG_0772

Out at the pond it started to snow quite heavily.IMG_0777

I thought I’d wait it out, but instead of slowing down it got heavier. I started back to the house following my earlier tracks that were quickly being covered by new snow. It seems a bit unlikely that our delivery will happen today..IMG_0779


Snow swept in this morning. Not the predicted killer blizzards but rather a light dusting. It lies on top of the frozen ground for a bit and then blows away into small drifts which look like burst beanbags. A bit of an anti-climax after all the dramatic warnings and stockpiling of food. IMG_3557

The pond has an impressive covering of ice – now and again you can see one of the fish moving around slowly in the freezing water. Not quite thick enough for dancing on ice.IMG_3561

There may be more snow on the way and in between flurries there will be opportunities to prepare for tomorrow’s delivery.┬áIn the meanwhile its an indoors day; Netflix and chill.