Six On Saturday: Mid January

I have three definites for today. I am hoping that by the end I will have been inspired and will have discovered three more. I know this is not how the professionals go about it. Planning for weeks ahead, caption writers fully briefed, photos crisply in focus and revealing bountiful seasonal colour, and by professional I am referring to my fellow SOSers as hosted by The Propagator. I can only admire and aspire. Here are my offerings.


The so called warm weather forecast for last week came heavily laden with rain and those days that were dry were cold. But I did have urgent pruning to be done and so I climbed the ladder and pruned the vine. I peered enviously into my neighbours garden, full of greenery from their fabulous selection of shrubs. There was a feeble resolution to plant more shrubs on this side but in reality I prefer the big bang of summer perennials. Back to the vine. It was a joy to prune as I had the right equipment – more later – but there is still plenty of dead wood in there. Another year has passed without the grapes amounting to anything edible but the summers stems provide a shady corner.


How wonderful it was to receive a smart new pair of secateurs for Christmas. I’ve struggled on with several old pairs for some time, never managing to achieve a truly sharp edge despite many attempts with the whetstone. With these I was able to slice through the vines with absolute ease and probably cut them back more rigorously then I would have done with the old faithfuls.


Whilst I was up the ladder a flash of reddish brown caught my eye not more than two metres away. It was a fox jumping the fence. I had noticed the same fox earlier in the morning roaming around the garden paths. I cleared up the cut branches and returned inside to warm up. At this point the shouting started, a vixen in the middle of lawn calling for a mate. The original fox turned up pretty sharpish and for I was treated to a full on display of foxiness. In the middle of the day, so much for foxes being nocturnal animals.


Ah, I have remembered one more thing. Just before the latest of the lockdowns I met up with a friend who returned an earlier favour, I had shared some hollyhock plants and when they grew on in her garden they flowered in a wonderful shade of burgundy. I was bemused as I had collected the original seeds from plants that I thought were burgundy but mine had flowered as pale pinks and yellows. Somewhere in the seeds I had collected were the burgundy ones and now I have them back again. I’m hoping they come true.


Ooh, getting difficult now. We had our first snowfall of the year overnight and I was planning on finishing up with some snowy scenes but rain followed and the snow has now been washed away. The snowdrops are just beginning to appear but are not quite worthy of a photo but here’s a rain soaked crocus!


Finally, please accept this as proof that I am getting round all the roses. I still have many more to do. I was encouraged by the latest Dig Delve newsletter to be more ruthless with the pruning, and aided and abetted by the new secateurs I went to town, so of course the pruning took a little longer. I had actually set out to cut down the autumn fruiting raspberry canes but I had to pass the roses on the way. This distraction meant that only one section of raspberries were cut back and only two blackcurrant bushes lifted. At least I have some gardening jobs to get me through the second half of January.

12 thoughts on “Six On Saturday: Mid January

  1. Your vine looks like it has quite an age and I am just a little bit envious. However, I love the fox photos most of all. How wonderful to be able to capture them on camera.


  2. Snap! I had a lovely pair of Niwaki secateurs for Christmas too – just need to make sure they don’t get lost on the compost heap like I think so many others have gone over the years. I was woken about 2am a few mornings ago with foxes barking and remembered this is the time they like to find mates – I hate the noise. Never been too keen on foxes since they trashed my garden in Worthing clearly after a party!!

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  3. Santa also brought me senators, but they are not Niwaki. On the other hand, they cut efficiently ( so far…)
    Concerning the grapevine, have you already had decent fruit? I see that you leave a lot of stems and perhaps it would be necessary to remove a little bit of wood, that the stems bearing the clusters are more vigorous and less numerous.
    First crocus : Ooh, you’re ahead of mine!


    • Interesting to hear your thoughts on taking out a stem or two. That is just what I was thinking about this year. I am pretty sure one is completely dead so I am going to watch that one to make sure. I also have a long new stem coming up from the trunk that I have trained up and over so it would be good to take on of the old ones out.

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  4. I was also going to ask how many buds you cut back to on your grapevine. I agree with Fred that the closer to the base, the better for fruiting, at least that’s what someone advised me. I also give mine a good feed of bonemeal as that really seems to stimulate fruiting.


    • I vary between one or two buds and this year I really tried to stick to that rule but I know I get tempted by a really fat bud that is three along! Last year I lavished seaweed feed on it, but bonemeal is a good idea too. I use that for the other fruits in the garden.

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  5. Grape production may be lacking because of the dormant pruning technique. Some grapes prefer to be pruned to spurs, like yours is pruned. From these spurs, they produce new canes that bloom and produce fruit. My main grape vines happens to do that, so is very productive regardless of how it gets pruned, but lacks production if not pruned enough. Pruning stimulates the vigorous and productive new growth. However, some grapes prefer to be pruned to canes (leaving lengths of cane rather than short spurs). Sideshoots from these canes bloom and produce. Without such canes, they are unable to bloom. New canes that grow in the same year will not bloom in time. The difference is that some cultivars bloom on new vines, and some bloom on old vines from the previous season. If yours prefers to be pruned to canes rather than spurs, it may not be able to bloom.
    Also, those spurs are too gnarly. Even if it is a type that prefers to be pruned to spurs, the spurs should be pruned neatly back to a bud or buds annually, so that they do not get so gnarly. All those decaying stubs have potential to promote rot within the spurs. Each spur needs only one or two or three buds at a time.
    Now that it has been pruned, it can not be pruned to canes. However, if you like, you can try pruning to canes next year.


    • Thank you for your comments on the gnarly bits. I inherited it as a gnarly vine and this is often where the dead wood is. I was wondering about how ruthless I could be. The new canes do produce some grapes but they tend to split before ripening. I’ll try leaving a few canes next year to see if they will produce the following year – oh the patience of a gardener!

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      • Grape pruning is aggressive anyway. They respond vigorously. Over time, the dead stubs rot and fall out naturally, which eliminates some of the gnarlyness. If you dislike the gnarlyness, you can prune it out as new canes develop elsewhere. Most people believe that grapevines are more appealing while gnarly.

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  6. Your freshly pruned grape is everything a winter grape vine should be – muscular trunks, tidy curtailed branches full of promise for the spring. I can definitely relate to the transition from struggle and messy, splintering imperfection to crisp, clean cuts – and the difference shows in your photo.


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