It’s been a cold winter so far. Often, the weather is quite kind running up to December, but this year we’ve had more ringing frosts and more flurries of snow. And several more falls so far in January.
Nothing of course compared to what’s been going on in the US recently, but enough to put pay to the over-wintering pelargoniums and give the agapanthus a good fright in the greenhouse. Interestingly, 4 elderly and very prickly cacti, also resident there, are hanging on, demonstrating, I suppose, that deserts can be as cold as they are hot.
And yet, despite the cold, plants are starting to move. Our large Mahonia in the walled garden has been covered with yellow, lightly-scented blooms for some time now. It is now approaching 12’, though, with most of the blooms in the upper half and some of the branches starting to bend over with their weight, so when the flowers are over, we shall cut it back to more manageable proportions, as it is shading out the pillar apples growing behind it.
The bulbs too are really starting to move. I noticed our first winter aconite out on January 3rd in a sheltered corner of the walled garden under an apple tree – surely a sign that spring is on its way.
In the woodland, too, the snowdrops’ bright green noses are starting to poke up through the leaf litter. When we cleared the woodland of shoulder-high nettles some years ago, we discovered a couple of nice hollies, a Philadelphus (Mock Orange), a Viburnum bodnantense, and a rather nice dark-red tree peony, all waiting to be rescued!
As well as a lot of snowdrops which we think may have been growing quietly there for well over 100 years. I always get worried, though, about standing on these delicate little harbingers at this time of year. So, a winter project this Christmas holidays has been to mark out a path through the woodland, which will provide a framework for us to plant some more woodland-dwellers into during the spring, as well as ensure that the current residents aren’t trodden on.
Only a few weeks to wait until the first snowy pearls appear!