Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Richard's Late January 2013 Garden Notes

Snow’s gone and it’s the morning after the night before. Pure perfection gives way to a tide mark of dirt. Trapped leaves, dust, soil, worm casts, fallen detritus from vehicles are all left in conspicuous positions. It’s a case of brush, blower and ‘billy goat’ for the tidy up. The mulch of snow can hold things up; although most of the major bed work was completed before Christmas; hiring a ‘cherry picker’ and its associated work at height (health and safety!) distracted us; but what fun, we got to wear helmets, harnesses as well as high vis’ waistcoats! All the house pruning was done as well as the Laburnum Walk, a particularly troublesome ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ on the office, and all the trees on the drive had their crowns raised; took me back my tree surgery days.

We really must push on now and complete Bed 4, the major job here being the digging up of a massive clump of Crocosmia and replanting it as a more reasonable sized grouping. Ed and I have nearly achieved the digging up process and once this is done and a few more new and old perennials added it’s done. The few Tulips we have not yet planted are in small pots ready to transplant, they will keep until they get to their destinations.

Bed 3 needs to be cut back and quite a bit of re-jigging; a lot of this will have to be done next ‘close season’; but this is all part of the rolling programme of prioritisation in any garden. Beds 1, 2, Cornus mas bed, Broad Border, Pond Garden are all complete and set up for the next few years. All that is needed now is the application of mulch which varies from our own leaf mould, spent mushroom compost and municipal compost. The Pond Garden has a mulch of mushroom compost, the last operation after having its Roses pruned and Blood, Fish and Bone applied. All our Hellebores get a dressing of Blood, Fish and Bone too after they’ve had their old leaves cut off, this shows off the blooms that are now starting to open.

Dark Hellebores
‘Hillpoe’, ‘Augustus’, ‘Straffan’...its Snowdrop time! I wouldn’t dare say we hold a collection of Snowdrops; but we are justly proud of the ones that grow in the garden. ‘Hillpoe’ is an elegant double, ‘Augustus’ yet to really show itself is quite stocky with silver streaked strappy leaves and ‘Straffan’ is one of the green marked varieties, it grows under the Broad border Holly. Galanthus (Latin) elwessii has been flowering all over the garden since before Christmas; it has quite large silver grey leaves. ‘Atkinsii’ has ‘propelleresque’ outer petals and grows in the Winter Walk and Laburnum Walks, with gardener assistance it will colonise the nearby Bob Dash Beds very soon. ’Arnott’ as well as the natural Galanthus nivalis and its double relative can also be found at Barnsley. It also goes without saying that the Winter Aconites are now out on the drive, we have them for sale at £3 per 1 Litre pot, some Galanthus elwessii at the same price too. The Aconites we are selling come out of Bed 3, they have been growing through the Crocosmia. Ed has been busy propagating and we about to start selling various plants pertinent to the garden in our own home made compost, things such as Foxgloves, Nigella, Tree Paeoni, Hesperis, Variegated Strawberries and a few other bits and bobs. The point of sale will be one of the polytunnels, the staging made from recycled floorboards out of the house.

Galanthus elwesii
On mild breathless days the Wintersweet on the wall of the house can be detected; but in almost any weather the Christmas Box (Sarcoccoca) emits it’s honey scent, I love it; some people don’t. On the subject of woody plants the Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood) is wider than its high due to its long, lowly placed limbs. It also has flaking bark very similar to a London Plane; it is flowering now and this year is the best year I’ve seen it, full of blooms. This is not a gaudy display; but you won’t be disappointed if you take the time to inspect it, small dark sable buds open to reveal many short fingers of cardinal red, almost like a small sea Anemone. The Parrotia can be found on the way to the Spa, in the Wilderness, next to a Blue Cedar.

Parrotia persica

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