The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

A Brief Respite

Before the next wave of winter arrives, I was able to take a wander around the garden to investigate what was new.  Whilst the light was not at its best, I am enjoying the lighter evenings.

Inside there are some new flower buds forming on the Christmas cactus.  

And the orchids are still flowering their socks off. 

It was Mother's day in the UK on Sunday and my wonderful sons bought me a Ceanothus "Italian Skies".  It did have to hide in the shed while the freezing temperatures hit to protect it, but once it's planted in the spring it should survive the average British winter.  

Hysteria from Siberia

The day the "Beast from the East" arrived, I heard a radio DJ whine that it wasn't all that bad. We had snow but nothing had settled...commentator's curse?

The following day (Wednesday) it snowed....and snowed....and snowed some more.  The schools were closed.  Buses were cancelled.  I managed to drive halfway up the main road to the village, but had to give up and walk the remaining distance home after work.

Thursday was a "snow day" as the main road was impassable so I spent the day with some movies and my stitching.  The only gardening to be done was clearing snow from paths, drives and evergreens.

And then the real Beast arrived in the form of icy winds.  Cutting through to the bone, the freezing temperatures continued whilst the UK came to a halt.

And now....the thaw.

Prickly fingers

A couple of years ago, Bumblebee bought a cactus or two from the Botanical Gardens.  Some of the tiny balls of cacti that had broken off in a bit of a mishap were potted up and took root over the last year. 

Last week he indulged in a few more from our favourite garden centre, and the owner very kindly gave him some gravel and sand.

Today he showed off his own green, if prickly fingers.  

His next project includes a couple of terrariums once we can find some charcoal.

I think you'll agree, he has a flair for design.

Budding up

It's a glorious winter's day. The sun is bright, the sky azure and the birdsong is developing a flirtatious key.  All around the garden, buds are breaking. 



Magnolia George Henry Kern 

Rosa Special Anniversary 

Clematis Royal Velours 

Rhododendron Christmas Cheer 

Hydrangea petiolaris

Sambuccus nigra 

Hydrangea macrophylla

Wrapping up in hat and scarf against the chill, the garden was calling. There were a couple of jobs to be done while the weather held today.  As the bulbs are flowering in the pots beside the patio doors, I'm gently teasing them out and planting out in clumps in gaps in the borders.  Today were crocus and some more snowdrops.  The crocus were yellow with a darker stripe and although their flowers are past their best, I've planted them in the patio arch borders for next year's display. 

This pot of bulbs above will receive the same treatment, but the hyacinths below are going to come inside once their buds begin to open so we can enjoy their rich fragrance.  They will then be allowed to die back naturally out of sight, leaving the strappy green leaves to feed the bulb for next year.

The other task was to attend to this acer in the Yen Garden. You may recall that it performed poorly last year.  I wondered whether there was insufficient drainage.  TMTC popped it out of its pot, improved the drainage with extra gravel at the base, along with more crocks over the single drainage hole and replaced the compost with a mix of John Innes 3 and a just bit of ericaceous compost, before replacing the pebble mulch.  Now we wait.

I titivated the soil a little, removing a few weeds and cutting back dead foliage to tidy things up a bit and allow the crocus, narcissi and snowdrops room to shine.  The papery heads remain on the hydrangeas all round the garden to help protect the buds, but one or two of the roses received their winter prune.  

In the next 48 hours the "Beast from the East" arrives, dragging freezing Siberian temperatures and snow our way.  

I'm not a winter person.

Christmas gifts that keep giving

I'm easily pleased.  Vouchers for the garden centre, a subscription to my favourite gardening magazine and a few gardening books make the perfect gifts.  Certainly these are gifts that continue to pleasure long after the wrapping paper has been recycled and the mince pies consumed.

I decided that the patio arch borders needed a little bit of winter glamour as they were looking a tad bleak from the bedroom window, what better way to cash in the vouchers.

We picked up some half price miniature daffs, some velvety purple crocuses and a few pots of snowdrops. TMTC popped them all into gaps in the borders either side of the patio arch to inject some colour.

The remaining clumps of narcissi were planted at the foot of rose Maigold in the front garden, to be appreciated through the front room window.

Staying cosy indoors, some of the orchids are also providing some winter colour

And a newly purchased African Violet.

Winter's not so bleak.


Not to be outdone by other emerging bulbs,  the snowdrops are beginning to peek out from beneath the dark cold earth.

First post of the New Year

Time constraints, poor weather and ill health have conspired against me during the last few weeks, coupled with the fact I can only see the garden at weekends at this time of year as it is dark when I leave for work in the mornings and is dark when I return home each evening. 

Despite the grey drabness of January, there are little pockets of colour around the garden, with lots of new growth including tightly packed shoots at the base of dried sedum stems, narcissi, crocus, snowdrops and hyacinths. 

Blooms are a joy during the bleak wintery days, and none more welcome than cyclamen, wallflowers and violas. 

And who could disregard hellebores? 

Vibrant viburnum tinus either side of the patio arch began flowering in autumn. 

These minute white flowers hidden among glossy green leaves that belong to the evergreen winter box or Sarcococca confusa have a glorious fragrance.

Foliage plays its part at this time of year too, from the various types of ivy in yellows and greens and variegated with white, to euonymus fortunei that glow in the subdued light of winter.  New growth on hebes as here is also a great way to inject much needed colour. 

The deep pink rhododendron's buds are swelling in preparation for its dazzling spring performance. 

However, the new winter flowering variety has yet to bloom.  I think the description refers to the time of year in more southern gardens that enjoy a milder winter to that of Yorkshire.  But then winter is far from over so there's still time.

Very few jobs have been necessary this month apart from filling bird feeders and replenishing the bird baths.  TMTC has pruned a few of last year's new branches on the staghorn tree to encourage a better balanced shape, and taken today's photos. 

Another way to use colour in the winter garden is with stems.  Cornus or dogwoods are one of the most obvious.  Above is c. alba 'Baton Rouge'.  Below is an unnamed variety, very similar in hue but much taller. It isn't a bad tie in with the red of our Yen Garden's pergola. 

 A garden can be very interesting in winter.