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My Garden Journal 2019 – February

Here we are visiting my garden journal for the second time in 2019 with my February entries. My first double page spread was all about the week that spanned the last few days of January which delivered snowfall and the first few days of February which gave us a heavy frost.

The photos on the left hand page illustrated some of our winter flowering scented shrubs topped off with a layer of deep frost. I wrote, The last few days of January shared a week with the first few days of February. It was a cold week cheered greatly by the appearance of flowers on our winter shrubs, which also delighted with their rich scents.”

“The delights of scented winter shrubs. Food for winter flying moths.”

   

Opposite my photos showed the effects of snow on our sculpture, both man-made and created by Mother Nature, the seedleads of grasses and perennials.

“The snowfall that came and went all within a day.”

       

Over the page my next two pages concerned with a period of strong winds and the earliest of bulbs to flower in our patch.

I wrote, “February 9th delivered gale force winds overnight so firstjob on the 10th was inspecting for damage. Luckily very little was to be found just a few minor happenings.” 

  

“One broken stake of a support trio. Plant labels blown around the garden. 

“Part of an insect home blown down. Plant protection bags blown off delicate shrub Loropetala.”

 “Collapsed Calamagrostis”

On the opposite page I wrote, “February sees the first of our bulbs coming into flower.”

 

“A pale crocus and an deep purple Iris reticulata.”

  

“Snowdrops have bulked up nicely.”

 “Winter Aconite give winter gold”  

“Cyclamen at the base of our Field Maple.”

The next double page spread is all about Hellebores and we have so many.

I wrote, “Hellebore hybrids and self-seeders are blooming throughout our garden.”

    

“Euphorbia foetidus grows to small shrub proportions in the rich soil in our patch. Its acid-yellow bracts sit well against its deep green deeply cut foliage. It has a rather unfortunate common name of “Stinking Hellebore”, but is also called “Barfoot”.

“Even more of our Hellebore hybrids.”

     

Turning over the page one more time I looked at some indoor gardening related jobs and wrote, “Wet days in February afford us the opportunity to catch up on indoor tasks such as chitting potatoes, starting off Dahlias and Cannas as well as sowing seeds of perennials and a few annuals.”

      

I continued, “Meanwhile outside we continue to tidy up border by border. Sorting our gravel garden, the Chatto Border, is a major task so we do that work on days when Ian, our part-time gardener is around to help us. We also dug up and divided Day Lilies.”

   

About Crocus I wrote, “Whatever the weather, sunny or overcast, the gold of Crocus shines through, even the purple coloured varieties have spots of deep yellow, almost orange.”

Turn over and I share the surprise of a wildlife visitor, about which I wrote, “There is a surprising amount of wildlife activity in our February garden. Recent sunny, warmer than average days have encouraged our resident birds to start singing and calling. The Song Thrush calls loudly from first light along with Robins, Dunnock and Wren while overhead Buzzards and Red Kite mewl as they soar. As the light levels drop Tawny Owls called for long periods of time. Sunshine also brings out Bumble Bees and Honey Bees to feed off early flowers of bulbs and the first butterfly of the year makes its appearance. A stunningly beautiful Red Admiral rests on a wall taking in the extra warmth of the sun on the bricks.

 

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My Garden Journal 2019 – January

Back with my new journal for a new year, my Garden Journal 2019. January is often described a s a quiet month in the garden and gardeners are often told to keep inside in the warm, order seeds from catalogues, clean their sheds and sharpen bladed tools and clean up all tools. But in reality a good garden is a good garden for 12 months of the year and a good gardener keeps his bladed tools sharp continously, all his tools are cared for througout the year and there is plenty to look at and enjoy in the garden and plenty of interest to be found in plants.

I begin my January journal entries with the words, “What is in flower in our Avocet patch early in January? A quick wander around on a calm, dry day with camera in hand provides the answer. I thought I wouls be out in the garden for 10 minutes or so but there was so much t lok at that it was three times longer.” 

I shared a set of 8 photos showing “Violas, Cyclamen, members of the Primula family and even an adventurous Rose.”

     

I then went onwards with my camera into the greenhouse which is not yet heated at all, so we are simply keeping things ticking over. Soon we will put heat on and the heated propagating bench in readiness for the exciting task of seed sowing. I wrote, “The greenhouse is a busy place in the winter full to overflowing with over-wintering sensitive plants, autumn seedlings ticking over and cuttingstaken late in the year.”

Examples of these sorts of plants are shown in the set of photos, including seedling Achilleas, Fuschia thalia and Sedum Matrona cuttings.

On the opposite page I looked at some of our many grasses that shine in January and shared a set of pics. “Grasses come into their own in January both deciduous and evergreen. Carex are exceptionally valuable winter grasses.”

 

Carex elata aurea                                                Carex elata aurea

Calamagrostis “Northwood”    Miscanthus sinensis         Carex “Evergold”

Carex elata “Evergold”                             Uncinia rubra       Carex “Frosted Curls”

 

Carex elata “Bowles Gold”                                Anemalanthe lessoniana

 

Calamostris brachytricha                                                        Carex buchanii

On the following double page spread I moved on to look at some of our berries and foliage plants giving interest in January. On the first page I wrote, “Throughout the winter birds especially members of the Thrush family enjoy gorging on the berries on our trees and shrubs. We grow berrying plants for the birds to eat as well as for our own visual feast. By January a few are still left over.”

 

Guelder Rose                                                Mahonia “Winter Sun”

 

Honeysuckle berries                                  Malus “Admiration”

 

Native Holly                                                  Iris foetidissima

Cotoneaster                                                    Libertia

Sarcococa confusa

We can now look at the opposite page and consider some of our interesting foliage, where I wrote, “In January interesting foliage catches the eye, variegation, dusting with silver, glaucous or ruby coloured.”

Eucalyptus parvula               Rhamnus aureomarginata         Eleagnus ebbingei

Coprosmia “Pacific Night”     Pinus mugo “Mumpitz”

Hedera helix “Long Trail Yellow”         Hebe 

Budleja “Lochinch”                                    Euphorbia lathyris

Over the page I wanted to share the disaster we had with our old fence that backed our Seaside Garden. I wrote, “I shall now report on the progress we have made with our winter projects and look at work in progress too. You will not be surprised that strong winds broke down the fence panels backing the Seaside Garden so this area neededa complete renovation. The old fence was soon replaced jointly with our neighbours and the new, better quality fence presented opportunities to put up vine eyes and wires. We planned to plant plenty of new climbers as well as renew and replenish the other plants and artefacts. We decided to include more plants this time.”

 

The new fence ………………….

 

The trellis goes back up and the vine eyes and wires are being fixed up.

 

The climbers are planted ……………. and grasses soon join them.

To finish the month of January off, we can have a quick look at what the finished revamped seaside garden ended looking like, ready for the growing season ahead.

I wrote, “We had great fun rebuilding the Seaside Garden despite cold temperatures made more severe by the icy cold winds. So, wrapped up well against this typical January weather we put up old fishing nets from Scotland, sea-washed driftwood from Devon and Anglesey plus shells and pebbles.”

    

“Avian des res!”

 

“House Sparrows”

“Titmice”

“Wrens”

 

“Meanwhile we continued to change the 3 beds around the back grass into a new hot garden. Sadly we messed up the grass so had to also prepare this for repair. We have now finished planting the new plants and repaired the grass area ready for seeding in March.”

 

So there we have my entries for January in my 2019 garden journal.

 

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flowering bulbs garden photography grasses ornamental grasses roses Winter Gardening winter gardens

12 Christmas Garden Delights

As a Christmas greeting to everyone I thought I would go out into the garden here at Avocet and take 12 photos that depict the delights of our patch on Christmas Day.

A dozen December delights!

xm-15 Out of season – Rosa Raspberry Royal.

xm-10 Cyclamen coum

xm-04 Sarcococca confusa

xm-03 Euphorbia wulfennii

xm-05 Hebe Great Orme

xm-09 Jasminum nudiflorum

xm-06 Cornus Midwinter Fire

xm-08 Carex elata aurea

xm-14 Winter Cyclamen

xm-12 Betula albosinensis Septentronalis.

xm-16 Physalis alkekengi (Chinese Lantern).

xm-17 One of our many ferns, Arachnoides aristata.

We have had a great year in our Avocet Garden with so much to enjoy, so many visitors to share our patch with and plenty of wildlife to share it too!

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Cyclamen for Autumn

Jude, aka the Undergardener aka Mrs Greenbench, and I love special plants that give extra interest at their own specific times of the year. The Cyclamen we plant in pots each autumn fall into this category and they give exceptional interest with their flowers and their foliage despite their diminutive size. We also grow their relatives in our open garden. They are all tuberous plants and enjoy being grown in partly shaded patches of our garden. We have to make sure the soil is enriched in organic matter so we ensure the areas around them are well-mulched each spring.

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Flowers and foliage are both unusual to look at, with unique colours, shapes and patterns. There are no two leaves the same on any plant, as they vary in shape, size, texture, colour and variegation. Their flowers appear like those of no other plant with fly-back petals giving an inside out look to each flower head. Can-can dancers!

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We plant them in all sorts of containers with various partners to give added interest and then position the containers where they can be seen from our windows or doors during the colder months. They are there to cheer the garden up and make us smile!

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Visitors to our garden are greeted by seasonally changing plant boxes and cyclamen always find their way here in the autumn. They partner up with the smaller growing grasses particularly well increasing the beauty of both plants.

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Again they give warm welcomes to visitors as they arrive at the front door of Avocet.

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Alongside the driveway we grow them in galvanised containers with bronze-leaved grasses and variegated leaved ivies.

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Where more of our Cyclamen grow than anywhere else is in the Rill Garden where we get good views of them from the garden room double doors. Great big smiles on dull overcast winter days.

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In the borders we grow both Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen hederifolium in lightly shaded areas to give bright patches of colour, with C.coum blooming in the spring and C. hederifolium in autumn. A few plants will suddenly stop you in your tracks when you realise you now have a spreading patch.

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Garden Cyclamen have an unusual relationship with our garden ants too, which adds to their mystique. We notice seedlings appear in the strangest places often several feet from parent plants and it is hard to find any pattern to their distribution nor rhyme nor reason to their chosen new homes. Ants are the force behind our moving Cyclamen. The appearance of fresh plants in bizarre places show that some other force is at work as the plant itself could not possible have the power to send their heavy seeds so far. The Cyclamen coats its leaves in a sweet substance that is irresistible to ants who carry them off several metres resulting occasionally in their sudden appearance in hanging baskets, containers and odd corners of the garden. This relationship between ants and cyclamen is called “myrmecochory”, a suitably bizarre word for a bizarre phenomena. The photos below show four of the Cyclamen plants that have been seeded by our garden’s ants.

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Although it is primarily the crazy pinks and reds of the flowers that make us buy them, they are also great garden plants because of their unusual foliage. It is often quoted that no two leaves of these plants are ever the same! Below is an assortment of foliage belonging to our Cyclamen.

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Sadly the cyclamen growing in the wild are endangered following exploitation by ruthless bulb hunters who flooded the plant markets of Europe and America with them. They are now protected and this wild hunting is banned. New methods of propagation means that we now have so many beautiful variations available to us and the wild populations are increasing once again. So their future is bright – bright pink!

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