Friday, 6 January 2017

Gardening at Home in the Holidays

Echivera in the greenhouse

At this time of year the best interest and colour in the garden is in my greenhouses, especially the larger one which is heated. this is where all the succulents, tenders and cacti live. I like going in here in winter as there is always something interesting to look at and it's warm. Enclosed in bubble wrap it's easy to escape the world for a couple of hours while I tidy and water.

Look at those thorns

Symmetry in nature is great

Now that Christmas and new year are out the way it's time to think about the garden for the coming year. The first tasks for me are always lifting leaves, cutting back last year's dead growth and feeding and top dressing, in that order. Hard work but very satisfying once the job is done and you can then enjoy this year's first flowers emerging.

There was a lot of fallen birch twigs so I've been
experimenting with making them into rings or nests,
possibly for easter spring displays, not sure yet

New gloves, they didn't stay this colour
for long

Between Christmas and new year I had a dry day to myself and decided to spend it giving the front garden it's new year clean up. Armed with barrow, bucket, fork and secateurs I started at the bottom of the drive and worked back towards the house. I certainly didn't expect to get all eight borders finished and the lawn cleared of leaves (though I cheated there, more on that later).

The two small borders as you enter our drive are very shady and quite dry and so I planted these up accordingly when we moved here two yeas ago, you can read about it here. It was interesting to note the difference in the two sides this year as I was tidying. On one side the Geranium has done really well as I would expect, spreading out and covering the ground happily but on the other it is really struggling. There is no difference in soil type or level of light, they both the same, another one of life's mysteries.

The front border before

Further up the front garden the borders I planted up two years ago are really coming together and most plants are thriving. You can read about them here and here and here. There is some bishop weed in one of the borders but I seem to be keeping it under control by removing whenever it pokes it's leaves above the soil. Again a cut back, weed and top dress makes all the difference, a bit like when we get a new hair do! Once cut back it's interesting to see which plants have hung onto leaves and give us some interest through the winter months.

The Island beds before

After, all beds cut back, weeded, dug over, grass edged and compost from the compost heap
used for top dressing

I mentioned cheating earlier when lifting leaves off the lawn, I ran the lawn mower over it quickly, which did more or less lift most of the leaves, it also topped the grass which never got it's last cut of the season, two for the price of one I'd say. The chickens also enjoyed scratching through the grass and leaves I threw in, giving them something to do for a while.

Euphorbia Wulfenii is putting on a good display through winter

A week later found me in the back garden on a cold but dry and sunny day. There was a bit of a frost but not enough to stop work. Again, lifting leaves, cutting back and tidying on the patio. Another very satisfying job that also look great from the house once done. This year as at the nursery the leaves seem to have come straight down and not moved instead of blowing away, so there were a lot more to lift. Raking and brushing kept me warm, while tidying the troughs was rewarding when I uncovered emerging Snowdrops and the leaf tips of daffodils. 

It's all a bit of a winter mess out here

but doesn't it look amazing after a days work

I always feel I'm doing two jobs at once when raking leaves, moss removal from the grass too

I finished off the day with a bonfire, always good on a winter's day. there was lots of old boxes, the Christmas tree, fallen branches and lots of leaves I'd lifted. All that was missing was toasted marshmallows. For me it's good to get a head start on all these tasks at home while I'm on holiday.

I love a winter bonfire

Moon and sunset from the back garden

In other news. it's been a relaxing holiday, though I haven't got as much done as I'd hoped, always the way. We've done a couple of short walks and made more progress in wedding planning.  Back to work next week ad there is lots to do before spring so let's hope the weather is kind to us.

I hope you had an enjoyable festive break too, here's to 2017, see you next week.

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  1. Those gloves look interesting, I wonder what the idea is behind the patched areas being the shape they are...