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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 – December 2017

I decided to post my final Garden Journal 2017 post for my Christmas post this year. I hope you enjoy it. Have a great Christmas time!

Here is the final episode of my 2017 Garden Journal, my entries for December. I have already been to my art suppliers and purchased books to become my 2018 Garden Journal. As usual I have changed the size and gone for a larger landscape bound drawing book. But for now let me share my December pages.

I began by looking at the bird-life feeding in our garden in December and in particular the characterful Tawny Owl. I did a painting of these wonderful owls using fine fibretip pens and Japanese watercolour pens.

 

I wrote, “Birdlife in our garden in December is generally quiet. Squeaks of Dunnocks sneak out from the shrubbery and Robins share their watery liquid winter song. Winter migrant Thrushes soon fill the garden with chatter.

Most noisy of all are our Tawny Owls who call loudly when the light fails and darkness overpowers the garden. We open the patio doors to listen more intently and drink in  the atmosphere these owl calls create.”

Turn over the page and we find a double page spread looking at garden editing and seedheads and I include a great quote from one of my favourite garden designers, Dan Pearson.

“December for us is a key month in our garden editing period. It is when we move plants, take plants out that are past their best and completely re-design and re-plant some areas. I was so pleased to read in his book, “Natural Selection”, that Dan Pearson thinks the same.”

“Editing the garden is a gradual process of  elimination, and I like to let nature take its course and for foliage to find its way back into the ground in its own time….. I savour many perennials for their winter seedheads,  form and structure, and this is what I edit back to so that there is plenty for the winter sunshine for the winter sunshine to fall upon.

Removing the clutter lets you see the things in a new light, but you need to retrain your eye in winter to see things in a more economical way. It is good to understand the structure of a garden  and to aim for it to be as handsome as it can be.”

“Seed heads of perennials take centre stage in our garden this month. When snow arrives our seed heads completely change their character. They appear strong enough to withstand snow’s weight.

Snow in December has become a rare occurrence in recent years as our climate changes. In fact we have not seen any December snow since 2010 and 2011. This year saw this all change. A foot of snow fell in a two day period and the garden looked weighed down, slumped and bent low”.

  

“We love to see how the snow changes the characters of our pieces of sculpture by strengthening their shapes and sometimes creating silhouettes”.

  

Turning over the page we meet lots of colour, winter bedding plants and our plant of the month.

I wrote “We like to use winter bedding plants in pots to add extra colourful, bright patches to our winter borders. Violas and Cyclamen are two of our favourites often linked with the gentle colour and textures of grasses.”

  

“Our plant of the month for December is Hesperantha which flower strongly at this time of year, glowing bright pinks and reds.”

     

My final page in my Garden Journal 2017 is all about the surprises that the garden treats us to in December, bright colours that lift the heart. You will notice that I have included more pictures in the post than were originally in the journal, but I simply ran out of space in my book. I hope you enjoy the extras!

“Red surprises in the winter garden can warm the heart and souls of the garden and the gardener alike. Joined by splashes of oranges these colours warm us up nicely.”

The reds and oranges are provided by coloured stems of shrubs, odd blooms on roses, the berries of Iris foetissima and the late colours in Acer leaves. So much colour to end the year.

       

It is good to finish my year of reports on such a positive colourful note. My Garden Journal will return next year!

 

 

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After the Storm – snow in December

Mid-December saw the sudden arrival of snow a rare occurrence in recent years. The last time we can remember having any appreciable snow fall in December was back in 2010 and 2011. Sadly I am still recovering from my surgery so really haven’t been able to get out there and enjoy the white stuff. However it did give me the chance to send Jude the Undergardener out with my trusty Nikon, so this post will feature all her photographs.

 

They are pretty good for someone who says she can’t use a camera! Methinks the lady objects too much! Jude the Undergardener has such a good eye for a picture!

Seedheads of perennials gain caps of snow and ice, and light finds places to make sparkle.

        

Twiggy skeletons of shrubs that had lost their leaves managed to catch balls of snow in their branches.

 

Evergreen trees and shrubs gather much more snow and ice around them like thick duvets.

 

Sculptures scattered around the garden change as they absorb the snow.

     

Surprise flowers add tiny patches of colour among the whiteness, roses throwing up surprises through to the end of the year. Similarly the colours of fruits and berries pop up from the snow like “jack-in-the-box”, but this will only last until our winter thrushes consume them.

       

Structures that blend into the background for the rest of the year come to the fore when winter arrives but even more so when snow covers the garden in white. These structures include trained fruit trees, trellises, evergreen climbers and pollarded trees.

    

Looking out of the garden into our borrowed landscape showed that the countryside too had put on a new coat. Looking into the garden there are very special moments in time to catch. This leaf may at any time fall to the ground in a gentle breeze.

 

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colours flowering bulbs garden photography gardening ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire spring bulbs spring gardening Winter Gardening winter gardens

A Bouquet for March

Here is this month’s “Bouquet” post. The first photo says it all!

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There are in fact two flowers visible – both yellow. Our Cornus mas is still in bloom and the flower buds of daffodils are spearing their way through their white duvet.

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Let’s hope our April Bouquet is a bit more impressive!

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Allotments under Snow

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Today we braved the snow and floods up at our allotment site and went for a walk around to look at what turned out to be a very different world to the one we usually see. The pictures illustrate just how long it may be before we can get any gardening done up there. We still have root crops in the ground – in December it was too wet to get on the soil and now it is all under the white stuff.

Here is the actual green bench that inspires the name of my blog.

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The scarecrows remain on duty whatever the weather and shrug off the snow and ice.

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Wheelbarrows wait patiently.

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The plots have a forlorn look but beneath the ice and snow the soil is waiting – waiting for a little more light, more heat from the sun and plenty of evaporation to lessen the moisture content.

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The Winter Garden is full of interest.

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The contractors preparing our site extension in the adjoining field were toiling away in the snow, ice and waterlogged soil. They are putting in drainage and clearing out an old pond to create a wildlife pond for us all to enjoy. The ground they overturn presented birds with a rich feeding ground. Blackbirds, Redwings, Fieldfares, Jays, and Thrushes both Song and Thrush revelled in a fresh supply of worms and ground creatures.

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Melting

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Snow is a bit of a novelty when it arrives and I always enjoy watching it change the atmosphere, character and look of the garden. But after five days I have had enough of it so got excited when the sun came out for an hour or two this afternoon and the snow and ice started a steady drip, drip, drip – melting gently.

A new challenge for me and my camera! See what you think.

Poor old Matilda has melting snow running down her forehead and she does not look pleased!

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As the sun gives a rare January appearance, the snow begins to melt and for a while takes on a transparent look and glows.

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The greenhouse begins to lose its duvet of snow.

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The tallest stems away from shadows melt first. This pair of rosebuds is clear of snow and ice but their yellow petals, exposed where the bud has tried to open, have suffered from this attack of January weather.

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Do snowmen travel by bus?

Sometimes things happen in life that make you ask hugely important questions, life-changing in fact. Today as we drove to the local garden centre we saw these characters waiting at a bus stop. I had to stop and snap up a photo. And this experience brought one of these massive questions to the fore.

Do snowmen travel by bus?

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Sadly, the character on the left got fed up of waiting and fell asleep.