Fog today, with not very much visibility. It catches in the fine network of birch branches and drips silently down. The blanket of fog makes it feel mild and damp, even though there was a low of -3 last night. It neutralises colour, leaving everything looking flat and dull.
The fog rounds the edges off things so that sharp objects like the seed heads of these Leonotis leonurus look soft and spongy (they really aren’t though).
In the gloom of this foggy day there’s many reasons for celebration; for instance the dogwoods and salix are looking amazing. At this time of year when growth is starting to stir the stem colour reaches ultimate intensity. Of course it would be a lot more impressive on a brighter day.
And there’s snowdrops. Al brought some inside and they opened up immediately in the warmth.
The excellent Mahonia x media (hopefully I have got that name right) fills the surrounding area with a lemony fragrance.
And suddenly there’s lots more dwarf iris too; things are starting to look better already.
Recent works on the railway line at the top of our field has resulted in deep vehicle tracks across the damp fields. The works consultants are very apologetic and have promised to return things to the way they were. I’m sceptical. I think these tracks can probably be seen from the international space station by now, and I don’t know if covering them up will work. Another option may be to use recycled road (not the technical term – I know), which is crushed and compacted into the channels, leaving a semi-permanent hard standing that the grass will eventually grow into. I’m coming around to this idea, especially as it seems like the access is going to be needed on a regular basis when the nursery takes shape.
Did I just say nursery??
Vehicle tracks as they were on Friday – they’re a lot worse now..
Today January returned with a vengeance; sideways drizzle and gales. And darkness. The trees mostly shrug this treatment off, letting go of a few old branches now and again. This old sycamore has stood solid against the strongest of winds for at least a century. Lets hope it lasts through the 50+ mph winds forecast to hit us tonight.
Yesterday was a day of horizontal sleet, blustering cold winds and dark skies. Today is the opposite; blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind. The perfect chance to see what has changed in the garden, make some decisions about configurations and to do some general moving around. Time flies in the garden and all too soon it was too dark to continue outside. Longer days: bring them on.
The first snowflake Leucojum vernum – a very welcome sight
The first dwarf iris Iris reticulata emerging through fallen beech leaves
I’m not usually a massive fan of double blooms but this hellebore is quite impressive
I have always been fascinated with seeds; to me they are packages of hope. I’ve gone slightly obsessive this year, starting this year’s seeds off in October – the best time for some perennials and grasses. Now there’s a whole fridge drawer full of stratifying tree seeds. Then there’s the cold frame and the cool greenhouse. The heated propagator is in action too. One of the most exciting things is the daily checking to see what has germinated. The only drawback of early germinations is keeping them from becoming etiolated or ‘leggy’. Daytime storage in the poly tunnel seems to be working, keeping the new seedlings out of direct light, although they have to be brought inside from the cold overnight. Nurturing seeds while they grow into new plants is an incredibly rewarding experience.
On the coldest, darkest, wettest days of winter it is really uplifting to see changes happening – and sometimes a relief to see that the plants are still alive. Changes take me by surprise at this time of year; suddenly things are starting to happen and if I’m not attentive they will pass unobserved.
Tufted saxifrage, Saxifraga cespitosa – a favourite species, covered in buds
Algerian iris, Iris unguicularis – very happily flowering at the base of a wall, as recommended by my plant guru Nick
Daphne bholua fills the area with an exotic scent – like most winter flowers the scent is much intensified by sunshine on the flowers
Helleborus niger (hybrid) buds have emerged. Which reminds me that I need to plant some of these where they can be seen from below – their best aspect.