03 February 2013

Good fences...

St Brigid's Day (1 February) marks the first day of Spring. At Last! I don't think I remember a longer, darker or drearier January than we had this year. It's so great to feel that Spring really is on the way. The garden still looks an awful mess, but there are irises and crocuses getting ready to come through, an early daffodil will surely open this week and some of the hellebores are blooming.

Hellebore and Hamamelis 'Jelena'
Never boring
And yesterday, bizarrely, I found one loganberry blossom open for business, its white petals surrounding a host of stamens - ready for any bee that might be out and about (like the one on the Mahonia last week; and I notice that Michael Viney was discussing the same thing in his column on Saturday this week).

A lone loganberry blossom opens in the earliest Spring sunshine
One of those irritating winter colds has kept me indoors for much of the weekend, but I had to get out to the greenhouse in the rare sunshine yesterday. I checked the fruit garden on the way (with a little help) and muttered darkly to myself about having to tidy up a bit.

Checking the fruit garden
The strawberries are looking okay and I'm looking forward to their fruits in July. I have been very remiss about looking after the raspberries (and rhubarb) this year - all it takes is dumping some well-rotted FYM on them in November, but even that I haven't done. Not sure why... there have been many autumn/winter tasks that got neglected this year, but it was a tough enough year. Maybe next year will be better. Already I've had kind offers of help with work on the allotment for the coming year (you'll notice the allotment hasn't had any mention here for ages...) so perhaps things will get going again soon. In better news, the alpines *do* seem to be in recovery mode, so perhaps I haven't ruined them after all!

I've been doing a bit of that 'well since it's winter you should look at your garden to see what changes need to be made' thing. And I think a small stand of tiny apple trees (the Coronet ones) might well go in, in place of a collection of Miscanthus zebrinus and Inula hookeri, plus some ivies growing over old tree stumps, all of which have been there for a long time (I always like to have some rotting wood in the garden, beetles and other beasties love it, and the frogs hibernate in and around it too). There's also a forlorn trellis on the wall nearby that's hiding behind some quince and an unruly mildewy honeysuckle that never blooms much, so there'll need to be work done there too. The quince has to stay, but the rest can go. Somewhere in there, there's a Blue Moon rose, a Zepherine Drouhin, and there used to be a Passion Flower until the winter of 2010.

Walls and fences are often the make or break of small suburban gardens; quite apart from the fact that good fences make good neighbours, they're the ever-noticeable boundaries to a small space. And when they're made of dull breeze blocks as they are in my garden it becomes ever more important to get them right. And I so-o-o-o haven't. One I covered in ivy for years (H. helix Buttercup) and the sparrows, blackbirds, wrens and robins loved it. But my neighbour on that side really didn't and when he 'cut' it a couple of years ago while pulling out hedging on his own side, he essentially damaged it enough that it had to go. I haven't solved that side since. The other side, with the quince, roses etc. sounds better here than it looks in real life so it'll need a bit of attending to this year. How shall I fit in the botanical painting, the allotment, the rest of the garden, oh and the day job, with all of that? We'll see...

Have a good week all.


  1. You modestly omitted jam making, wild mushroom risotto cooking, jolly hostess being, informed geographical/geological/botanical/scatalogical conversationalist whilst a long walk partner, lover not a fighter...the list goes on

  2. Thanks m'dear. (though you may have scared people off with that 'scatological'... i'm still trying to figure it out: was it otter spraints? fox?)

  3. I want that Hellebore - and I think I need your climate. The very notion of a daff in bud makes me feel queasy. The only reason I know we have daffs in our garden is that the lawn is bumpy underfoot (and quite honestly, that could be anything).

    I'm sorry you've had a cold - I hope you're fully recovered and that you're getting help with the scatological issue.

  4. Fully recovered now thanks! Hope the weather in Norfolk has improved. Daffs will be on their way before you know it.