The jobs I had planned for this week have been somewhat curtailed by the atrocious weather we have had over the last week. Howling gales and driving rain have kept me inside rather more often than I would like. Even when the sun does comes out, my garden is now so wet that there is little gardening to be done. If you look closely you will see that the lake below is actually a tennis court!
The snowdrops are surviving the daily beating they receive from the rain – they really are a remarkable flower, coping with anything the winter weather throws at them. I hate to imagine how my June borders would look after wind and rain like this. These snowdrops are always the first to open – I have a lot under trees that are only just showing colour, so I will have snowdrops for a while yet.
The hellebores are also flowering well. The combination of hellebores and snowdrops in the pergola bed is beautiful. Sadly I cannot quite see this bed from the kitchen window, but I head straight to it each time the dogs and I pop outside for a wander around.
Iris reticulata Harmony is flowering in lots of spots, but is not coping as well as the snowdrops with the weather. The delicate petals are quickly damaged by the rain. Sadly my early crocus tommasinianus seems to have been flattened before they have flowered. Some years I have a lovely show under the trees.
In February I usually start the process of working around all the beds, cutting back any perennials that are still standing, pruning and feeding the roses and spreading compost over the borders. This year this will have too wait a few weeks until the soil drains. I have managed the odd hour of weeding in my new winter bed as the land is drier there, but there is still much to be done.
I am, not surprisingly, on top of my seed sowing plan as the greenhouse is the only place where I can stay dry and reasonably warm. The second sowing of sweet peas is germinating, as are the broad beans, peas and spinach that I sowed last week. This week I have added hardy annuals to the propagator and hope that Ammi majus, snapdragons and dill will be germinating soon. The minute I see the shoots poking through the compost in the seed trays I move them over to the greenhouse staging and sow the next batch of seeds. I have also added lettuces and spring cabbages to my vegetable sowings. Sadly the broad bean seedlings growing outside in the Kitchen Garden are under water, so time will tell if they can survive the conditions.
As a result my jobs to do this week are short:
- Finish pruning the climbing roses and start on the bush roses, weather permitting.
- Sow the final batch of sweet peas.
- Continue to sow hardy annuals for the Cutting Garden.
- Sow tomatoes in small pots and place in propagator.
On Monday I promised you a job that I keep especially for Valentine’s Day. It is now time to prune summer flowering clematis and Valentine’s Day is a good reminder to get this job done. The small early flowering spring clematis should not be pruned at this time of year – if you do you will lose flowers. These can be tidied up after flowering if necessary. The large summer flowering clematis should be cut back to strong buds about a metre from the ground. If they were planted in the last two years give them a harder prune back to about 12 inches from the ground – always cutting the old stem off just above a pair of strong buds to ensure healthy regrowth.
Finallly I have an iPhone picture I took of the first outdoor daffodils I have seen flowering. These are King Alfred daffodils that I planted in October in pots outside my mothers house in a sheltered south facing position.
After the long and welcome winter gardening break throughout December and January, I am now ready to get back into some regular outdoor work. The weeds are growing and the bulbs are popping up all over, which all makes working on the beds harder. I am keeping my fingers crossed that conditions will improve soon so that I can get the borders weeded and tidied before they start to run away from me!