Cold, cold and more biting cold, ice and snow!

Someone commented to us recently, that it must be a “quiet time”, in the garden right now. “Little to be done, over the Winter months”, they added, “especially with all this freezing weather?”.

Of course, all gardeners will know this is not the case and that in fact it is possibly, one of the busiest and most important of times. With a myriad of jobs to be done and a fairly short amount of time to do them in! Coupled with our bizarre climate changes, it is all causing new havoc and challenges to the emerging plants and Spring bulbs, as well as to the projects we have set ourselves for this productive time! One good thing we have noticed is that, a few of the usual suspects, hell bent on digging up and munching through an assortment of early bulbs and tasty roots in the garden at least, are not putting in their usual appearance…so far! Clearly, it’s too cold for them too!! The same cannot be said for our woodland, where possibly it’s a bit warmer in the undergrowth and the area resembles, a miniature, army disposal testing ground! Along the banks and to the side of the path through it, there are small mounds and craters of soil appearing at an alarming rate! Created by muncjack, badgers and possibly rabbits, foraging for the juicy stems of any new plant they care to take. Young English bluebells in the green, seem to be the preferred choice of each diner, currently? Heart breaking for us, having planted so many last year. Ah! Well, we have to live alongside nature here and it’s a lesson in ‘working with and not against it’!

 As you can see from the photographs, the ghostly structures of the Betula and the evergreens, continue to provide interest and form to the gardens. All our clay pots are wrapped up like ghosts. What is exciting is to look at the ground while you work and watch the colour gradually appearing everywhere, from within the grass to amongst the mulch and dried leaves along the Hazel path. In shade and sun new life and Spring plants are appearing at speed. Such a comforting and uplifting vision, after a long Winter, it never ceases to cheer us up!

One of the brightest of these is the tiny, delicate, Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen graecum, both flowering once in the Autumn and again now, tucked into the warmth of a natural mulch of brown leaves. In another warm spot, the extremely delicate Iris unguicularis with their paper thin, leaves are huddled up to the stone wall of the house and giving us great joy. They face south, but are exposed to every bit of biting wind and weather thrown at them. It never ceases to amaze  how their flowers survive in such conditions. Lovely in a single vase inside the house. They last for 24 hours though!
Of course, a myriad of crocus, are stealing the show and the usual primroses and hellebores are doing their thing. But to us it’s those tiny delicate flowers, like the emerging Scillas and the blossom appearing on the Daphnes including Daphne mezereum var. rubrum, the Stachyurus praecox and Oemleria cerasiformis that are the true stars here!

We have been cleaning the detritus from borders and continuing the Winter and restorative pruning. On Friday 16th March we will be holding a Restorative Pruning Masterclass for 10 people and we still have a few spaces available should you like to join us, see website under Masterclasses or get in touch via contact@theoldrectorygardens.co.uk or ring on 01832 733649.

Exciting times were had when we finally received our Welsh slate for the new dipping pond area. Each piece selected from a vast heap at the mine, for its shape and depth, then carefully laid around the edge of the water. The colour of the green slate matches the grey tiles within the paths of our Potager. Creating a nice flow through to the Twisted Hazel Garden which leads on from there. So now we just need to finish the planting around it and we are ready for the Spring Garden to burst into life.

Some of our upcoming Events and Masterclasses to be held within the gardens this year will include:-

Most importantly we have begun sowing seed, for an array of colourful annuals and vegetables but more of that to come in our March Blog. 
Here’s to warmer days to come!

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