Iris danfordiae

Above: Iris danfordiae

Garden diary: January

9 February 2002

The days are noticeably lengthening now, and growing buds that I had to search for a month ago are now visible points of green, visible even from the windows of the house as I look out onto the garden. The Iris danfordiae started into flower as February began, and are now joined by the Iris reticulata.

Snowdrops, a little later into flower, are about to open in Woodland Corner and in the other shady area near the kitchen.

A thorny issue

A major task this last week has been to tackle the roses Madame Alfred Carriere and Paul's Lemon Pillar, growing on either side of a trellis archway over the path by the back door of the house. These roses have mingled with an early-flowering clematis and a Clematis montana growing up the house wall.

Madame Alfred Carriere looked as if she was in danger of pulling down the trellis archway, so needed painstakingly untying and retying, with some pruning inbetween. Some pieces of trellis appeared to be no longer nailed together, and though this was initially alarming, I was glad of it, as it meant I could take some pieces out, arrange Mme Alfred's long branches in a better framework, and then reassemble the trellis pieces around the branches. I've tried to retrain some of the branches against the house wall, having heard from a gardening friend (Hi Lynn!) that Mme Alfred is more thuggish than her name suggests, and needs a sturdy support to grow up.

Gardening tends to be seen as a rather sedate and relaxing hobby. Tangled up in the branches of Mme Alfred Carriere this week, I realised that it could, at times, qualify as a dangerous sport. There will no doubt soon be a government pronouncement on the dangers of it. However much you think about ladder safety issues, and check your ladder for solidity before climbing, there is always a moment when you find yourself precariously balanced on the top of it, twisting awkwardly to one side, hanging on to an unstable piece of wobbling trelliswork, with a piece of twine hanging out of your mouth and a large thorny rose branch stuck in the arm of your jumper, with another one stuck in the back of your head.

My hands, afterwards, looked like I'd been dangling a toy mouse in front of an enormous gang of overexcited kittens. I know I 'should wear gloves' to prune the roses, as people who haven't tried to prune and tie in roses while wearing gloves will often tell you . . .

It is satisfying to look out of the window and see that all those rose branches that were waving about in mid-air are now attached to something, and no longer attached to bits of me.

Back to February highlights and diaries


Iris reticulata

Above: Iris reticulata

Garden diary: March