Seasonal notes…

HonestyHaving finished all the winter work on the fruit trees and bushes, this last couple of weekends we’ve been pushing on with tidying the herbaceous borders in the Walled Garden.

I’ve been removing the fallen leaves that have wedged themselves in under shrubs, and been cutting back the stems of old perennials that have been pushed down by the wind and rain. The aim has been to try to keep some interest in the seedheads and stems that remain, rather than ‘clear-fell’ the borders. I’ve left seedheads from things like Phlomiswpid-20121118_122125.jpg, foxgloves, lupin and astilbe. They look quite good now that we’ve removed the rather ‘sad’ material.

One of my best value purchases a couple of years ago was a packet of Honesty (Lunaria) seeds. I grew up with this cottage garden biennial with its mass of cheery early spring purple and white flowers but we’ve never had it here. Flowering in its second year, we had an excellent show last summer but it’s at this time of the year, mid-winter, that it really comes into its own. The Good Lady took a picture of  its tranlucent, penny-shaped seed heads a couple of weeks ago and it positively glows on sunny days. When I was clearing the fallen leaves round the old Honesty plants last week, I was pleased to note a rash of new seedlings under each one, perpetuating their existance here in the garden.

At the end of February or March, I’ll revisit the borders and cut back the remainder of the old stems, so that they don’t detract from the flush of new herbaceous green that we’ll start to see then. It’s quite a while, though, until the spring and it’s nice to have some form and structureimage to look at when wandering round. This really comes into its own if we get some really hard frosts, where each stem and seedhead becomes ‘sugar-coated’ with hoar-frost, bringing a whole new dimension to the garden in winter.

As you’ll have gathered now from my fellow UK bloggers, last weekend saw a real touch of spring in the garden, with temperatures in the double figures Celsius – most unusual for early January. With high overnight temperatures too, there’s been quite a lot of growth with polyanthus, primulas and tree paeonies showing early buds, and a flush of fresh green on the grass. While I was working outside last Saturday, I noticed the first Winter Aconite (Eranthis) flowering – a real harbinger of spring, and then during the course of 3 hours or so, a whole host of these cheerful yellow flowers started pinging up – one moment, there’s nothing; the next an instant flower! Are these the fastest growing flowers in the world, I wonder?

wpid-20121201_103753-1.jpgThis week, the temperatures have returned to normal (low degrees Celsius) and, in the cold light of dawn, I see white frost on the lawn and the greenhouse roof. Some snow is forecast for the early part of next week, and the sky looks threatening…

12 thoughts on “Seasonal notes…

  1. I’ve been admiring the forms of astilbe and sedum seedheads limned against the snow in my Maine garden. Like you, we also had a warm-up last week. (We usually get a period of warmer temps in for a few days in January, known here as the “January thaw,” but these were warmer than normal.) Now we’re back to the Maine winter, with new snow that fell yesterday and temperatures tonight expected to go below 0 (F).


    • Wow, 0F is seriously cold, Jean! It would be very rare that we get anything like as cold here, although I think it did almost reach those levels two or three winters ago. This week the snow has arrived here. Only 2-3 inches, though. I’ll be putting some pictures up on this weekend’s Blogpost. I think the snow is Nature’s ultimate winter garden adornment!


  2. I found your blog through Blotanical. It is very informative. Just the thing I need as I work on a new garden in a completely different climate (dry prairie to temperate rain forest). Loved reading about Honesty. I was fond of it when living in England, I will have to see if I can grow it here.


  3. Sounds like you are having similar winter weather to Central Virginia–US. VERY warm and dry here and bulbs are pushing up, while buds of willow are swelling. Much too early for any of this. I share your affection for Honesty, yet it began to be thug-like here. Just yesterday I noticed a jar full of seeds and you may have just inspired me try them again. My myrtles need thinning, yet I am making January my be lazy month, where I curl up on the loveseat and enjoy garden books. Cheers, your garden is awesome. Diane
    I invite you to stop by my blog…the drop down menu by month will take you to any season.


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