Intimations of Mortality

img_0201Well, dear old Bill Wordsworth had quite a bit to say about getting older, and, only a day after yet another pesky birthday, I’m in full agreement!

Yet the garden, which has looked deader than that poor bird (dodo), is starting to put out brave new shoots through the heavily frosted ground. This should also be the start of our repotting marathon, but it’s impossible to pot on, or split, plants that have a close resemblance to a house brick! We did go down to the nursery in the early part of January and cut back the towering columns of Miscanthus, looking gorgeous rimed in frost. However I paid a painful price for my fortitude – 11 chilblains in almost every finger joint!! I couldn’t bend my fingers for several days.

Even the dogs have suffered, well , Milly has. Being 10 in human years, Milly and I are now the same age, more or less. So, after she had declined to come out for a walk or a visit to the nursery a couple of times in the cold mornings, I thought it was time for her to have some extra warmth round her tiny body, especially as she is practically hairless on her tummy. So I managed to put her into a beautiful, red, Equafleece coat when the morning temperature hovered at -1. Unfortunately for her scores of loyal fans, I have no picture of her modelling it as she is thoroughly hacked off with me and refuses to look at me when she’s wearing it! I will keep trying though. I’ve got masses of failed shots of her retreating back or her dashing off with only her bottom (red-coated) visible. Being an old lady doesn’t go down well with her and, heaven alone knows, doesn’t go down well with me either!!

Still, looking forward, as we all must, I have brought my lovely, big propagating tray into the utility room, plugged it in, and am now happily beginning to fill it with pots of seed I saved from the garden last summer. So far I have sown Baptisia (tricky), Nepeta and Echinacea. The Echinacea seed is collected from our new Echinacea raised bed where I put a selection of species and varieties last year. I’m hoping for some unusual results – who knows? This is one of the joys of own seed collection. It’s enough to cheer me up, but I doubt it will do anything for Milly’s temper. Only the onset of warmer weather and the mothballing of a certain doggie-fleece will do That!!

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Midwinter Blues…. treatment for

Well we’ve reached the time in winter when I can’t bear the lack of gardening & flowering plants. It happens each year just at different times depending on the severity of the winter and the access (or lack of same) to garden programmes , magazines  or any other garden-type substitute. The treatment for this problem is to buy plants, preferably in flower, from where ever you find them . Failing that, armed with computer (& credit card) I start “surfing” the net. Not

necessarily instant gratification but there are photos!!! For anyone similarly afflicted I’ve found Rose Cottage Plants & just ordered several stunning Dahlias following my epiphany in Monet’s garden last August. I also turn to one of my all-time favourite sites Charlotte Chamitoff’s http://www.daylilydiary.com where , amongst other things, she has her GOTW Garden of the Week. This features gardens from the USA, Canada & Europe and next week it features us! We’re really excited to be featuring along with so many lovely gardens & I hope that other people who suffer from the mid-winter blues will find (like I have over all the years I’ve been visiting it)  great inspiration from Charlotte’s site. Now I think I’m going to the Strictly Daylilies site to order a couple of beauties that I have NO room for & then will surf some more to try to find that “must have” Hakonechloa I read about somewhere……..

My bank statement says roll on spring & so do I !!

Just some random photos from my garden that remind me that we will see flowers again!

R. and R.

As we speak, I’m just back from walking Milly and Maisie. Being a cloudy day, it is also pitch dark. I have a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle spread out on the dining room table, a fairly small number of back copies of the Telegraph with their cryptic puzzles waiting to be done and two new Kindle books downloaded onto my Kindle, one of which I read yesterday. Yes, folks, this is rest and relaxation!!

Today saw the beginning of the end for all that. We went down to the nursery and completed a survey of plant numbers ready for the coming season, and I noticed that quite a few pots are showing new shoots. It’s a bit of a juggling act between now and the end of March because, although it’s still full early to be dividing plants, in ten weeks time it will be nearly too late.

I’ve never counted exactly how many plants we have for sale, but I don’t think 1,500 is a very far out estimation. In ten weeks all 1,500 will have to be handled in some way. Some will just need dead foliage removing and given some feed for the coming upsurge. Some will need pruning for shape. Some will need to be potted on into a larger pot, but a good two thirds will need to be split and re-potted.

None of the split plants can be put back outside immediately because of the uncertainty of the winter weather. So they have to be kept inside for a short while to recover. However, leave them in too long and they’ll have made so much unseasonal soft growth that they won’t be able to go outside until May when there’s less chance that a heavy frost will kill them!

So, this really is it. The jigsaw puzzle won’t get finished before August. The back numbers of the Telegraph will reach up like a tottering tower and downloading books to my Kindle will only be useful again in August. Break over!!

 

Happy New Year

All good wishes for the new year….lets hope its everything we want it to be.

Today there is solid rain here but earlier in the week it was cold but dry and the foliage plants were really earning their keep. Cornus Midwinter Fire with Rubus thibetanus behind and the dwarf variegated Cortaderia in the foreground really don’t get much notice in the summer but this time of year they shine!dsc_0045