December. What a month. Lulled into complacency, I had only just begun to tidy up the garden for its winter snooze. My last post hinted at cold weather and I had to decided it was not the weekend to do much in the garden. By the Sunday evening I had succumbed to the lurgy from hell and the garden was covered in six inches of snow that was to last the whole week. Temperatures were around minus four to five all week and my smugness at never lifting the dahlias may well be misplaced. I coughed my way through another week in the run up to Christmas and although an amazing turn around in temperatures had once again revealed the garden I was still not inclined to venture out. So far December was dastardly. Today, still with the remnants of a cough, I finally took a turn round the garden. I was inspired. Yes there is much soggy browness to be dealt with but bulbs are nosing through, new shoots are braving it and the birds were signing as if it were Spring. Delightful is the final verdict. Here’s my six.
The first of the hellebores are opening up. This one is ‘Pretty Ellen’ white. The snowdrops will not be far behind
Tucked away in a corner by the shed and a water storage tank another ‘Pretty Ellen’ is getting ready to shine. Of course this is PE red.
The melica altisssima ‘Alba’ really took a bashing in the snow but it’s not giving up and new shoots are pushing through. This means I have to get out there and cut back the old growth. I just need a dry day now.
This clematis was cloaked in snow for seven days. It’s an armandii with a rating of H4 which suggests it is hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5). I thought it would be a gonna but these fat buds suggest all is well. Flowers for February I hope.
Viburnums are reliable at this time of year. I wasn’t at all worried about this one surviving so I was surprised to see that it also has a hardiness rating of H4. This one is just beginning to open up and will look lovely in a week or two. I inherited this one so can only say that it is likely to be a tinus variety.
This viburnum is a pink variety with lovely shiny black berries after flowering. Also inherited, I have no idea what variety it might be. It could be another tinus.
I am also delighted to wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. Let’s hope our gardens, pots, balconies, houseplants, whatever it is that we grow will work their magic next year and keep us all sane. Many, many thanks to Jim for taking on the SOS meme. Jim is posting sunny photos from Brisbane this week and hints at something interesting to come for the New Year. Many thanks, also, to all the SOSers who share their news every week. Roll on 2023, I think I am ready for you.
It’s the third day of frost here. Beautiful clear skies, frosted lawn and no doubt some amazing frosted perennials but I have not been down the path to take a look. I spent ten minutes in the garden yesterday afternoon. It was enough. Two bags of ornamental bark were emptied around the fruit trees and my toes and fingers were frozen. I quickly took my SOS photos and headed back to the warmth. Here’s this week’s six.
I’ve gone all abstract for this one. It is the solidly frozen bird bath testifying to the depth of the freeze. There are several more days of this to come. The birds are fluffed up against the cold. I broke the ice on the waterbutts and replenished the feeder. It was the least I could do.
Berries are the order of the day. I hope the larger birds can forage enough to keep them well fed. These are from a cotoneaster that always gets a mention at this time of year.
Cotoneaster horizontalis, the marmite plant. I know some who detest it. I inherited it here and wasn’t a fan, I have pruned it back into some sort of shape and it covers a fence and grows without further nurturing. That’s its clever plan. Keep your head down and I won’t really notice you and you get to stay forever.
Leave your dahlias until they blacken in the frost – that is the oft repeated wisdom. Well here they are, well and truly blackened. I don’t usually lift dahlias. The ground is now frozen so I won’t be lifting these. I will cut them back and cover them with some mulch. Crossing fingers sometimes helps too.
I added a cornus alba Sibirica to the garden last year. It’s had a tough year to deal with and hardly looks as if it has put on any growth at all. But the stems are wonderfully red. I will be patient.
This was taken around 9am on Thursday morning. Thank you to my neighbours for having so many trees that I can borrow from time to time.
The last time I checked the overnight greenhouse temperature it was minus 2.7 degrees. I think it was colder last night. I won’t be doing any gardening this weekend. I might dwell a little on which variety of potato to choose for next year. I will be checking in with Jim at Garden Ruminations, there are beautiful colours on show in his garden and of course all the SOS links to other posts are there too. Wrap up well for the Northern hemisphere, bask in glory for Southern hemisphere.
On the third day of December two turtle doves came calling. The weather has turned cold and the light, oh so subtly, has changed to a wintery glow. Heavy skies and mists are to be enjoyed as the last of the gardening jobs are completed. Last year’s leaf mould was emptied out around the gooseberry bushes. The drop in temperatures encouraged a few more leaves to loosen their grip and also made it abundantly clear to me that the agapanthus really must be wrapped up this weekend. Here’s six things from the garden this week.
It was my ambition this year to grow some cyclamens from seeds collected from the garden. As always I completely missed the moment but nature has obliged with a few self seeders. I am sure they are doing better than any I might have collected. Once again I thank SOS for making me look closely at the garden every week.
As you may have noticed a mushroom is photo bombing the cyclamen. Yet more were found in various spots around the garden. Nature does it own thing again.
The pellies were despatched to their winter quarters last week, making space in the pots for some winter bedding. A layer of ‘Dolls Minuet’ tulips was the first step and then four bellis daisies topped off each pot.
The last place in my grasses spotlight goes to hakonechloa macra, so much more easily remembered as hak mac. Again only planted out this year, so it will be a few years before they truly bulk up. This one is planted in a very shady spot and I have used others to fill pots that stand on concrete access points to the soak away that runs down the side of the garden. Those are an experiment, but I am persuaded that they will grow in pots for a few years at least.
Last week I spotted a fox eating the windfall figs, but there will be slim pickings now. Here’s one that has rotted on the tree, looking rather like an early Christmas bauble. Taking off those that haven’t ripened is another job to do in the coming weeks.
It seems to me that the leaves have stayed on the trees for longer this year. This week it was the turn of the oak leaves to fall and as the weather looks dry for the weekend there will be another sweep of the lawn with the mower to collect and shred leaves.
What a relief it is that the rain seems to have gone away. Cold weather and frosts seem much more preferable. I’ve dug out the winter gardening fleece and am set to go for a few more weeks. Who know’s what can be found for next week’s six but I’m sure there will be something to reflect on as the year winds down. I happily refer you to Garden Ruminations where Jim hosts the links to the SOS gardening blogs from around the world and inspires us all with such a variety of plants. For me, this week it is the marvellous pea seedlings!