1 February 2021
Soggy seems to be the best word to describe our garden In the middle of January. I know we are not supposed to walk on it when it’s in this condition, but I must admit I’ve thrown caution to the wind and ignored that advice just to be out in the fresh air and doing something useful. Of course there is the endless collection of mucky boots, trousers with wet and muddy knees and cold, stiff gloves when it freezes but I’ve been happy to get out there some days despite all that. Not that I blame those who choose to hibernate, that is probably the much more sensible option!
Spring bulbs are, for me, a real positive mood changer, we have thousands here at Charnwood. I’ve done some pots this year where I’ve cheated a bit and bought bulbs from garden centres that are coming into flower and planted them gently into a bigger pot. Covered gravel they look more convincing; they don’t seem to mind that rather rough treatment and it means we are getting flowers several weeks earlier. This year I ordered some pink hyacinths for a change, these were planted by me at the proper time and are starting to come through. Fortunately the squirrels don’t seem to find them tasty so that’s a real bonus. The cage that Peter built to keep the little critters off my expensive tulips has worked so far, so fingers crossed they stay away when I put them on proud display in a few weeks time!
Remember that if you do buy a pot of spring bulbs you can plant them in the garden when they have finished flowering. Most bulbs like a well-drained, sunny spot but don’t be too worried, snowdrops especially seem to thrive and self- seed all over the garden here. Thinking about it, you don’t tend to see either bluebells or snowdrops outside woodland settings do you? Dead heading them is a good idea for better blooms next year, but don’t cut off or tie up the leaves, they are crucial to feeding the bulb for next year’s flowers too.
Now is a good time to take stock and see where you may want to make any changes to your outdoor space this year: it has been said that a well -designed garden can be spotted even in the depths of winter. Good garden design is subject to endless debate as you will be well aware, it is also extremely subjective. We love a relaxed and ‘natural’ style at Charnwood, but of course even the ‘naturalness’ is really contrived and takes a fair bit of work. It does have the big advantage of helping wildlife by not being too tidy and regimented though.
Our front boundary was planted out 30 years ago after we got rid of some gloomy Leylandii we inherited when we moved here in 1987. It was getting very congested and not really working. So we pushed the boat out and had it cleared and I now have some gaps, exciting! A trip to Moores last month saw a purchase of three Dogwoods: Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’. These will be planted out once we get a milder spell and will, I hope, make a lovely winter display with their brightly coloured stems for years to come. Dogwoods seem to love our heavy clay soil so, although it was a decent financial outlay, they are lovely, strong plants I’m confident it is a good investment. Surrounded by snowdrops, then daffodils and then bluebells I’m sure we will be featured on Gardeners World very soon!
Stay safe and well everyone.