Iris danfordiae

Above: Iris danfordiae

Garden diary: January

5 February 2003

The viburnum has been flowering since November. This shrub, and other evergreens, brave the freezing temperatures we've been having this last week or so.

The garden, covered in snow, looked beautiful, undisturbed mainly, but with criss-crossed footprints of cats, birds and me along its paths. The birds, looking for food. Me, putting out the food. The cats, doing nothing much except wandering about checking for impostor cats.

The surface of the pond has been frozen over on many days recently, and I'm concerned about the frogs. Though obviously they know how to cope with winter, by going into a kind of semi-comatose, slowed-down hibernating state. I think I might be in it too . . .

20 February 2003

Spike the cat has just appeared on the wall at the end of the garden, having been on the prowl round and about, territory checking. My quick wander around the garden just now revealed that as expected he and his feline friends have been taking advantage of the large areas of unplanted soil in my winter garden, which they see as a large cat litter tray.

That aside, the garden is full of interesting green shoots already, as the snowdrops are flowering and the Hellebore orientalis are full of flower buds. This winter has seen many nights of freezing temperatures, so I'm hoping everything has survived.

The overall impression of the garden at this time of year is "small and rather flat". The height in the central area which obscures the bottom half of the garden is a result of annuals like sweet peas and runner beans, so in winter when they're gone, the centre of the garden looks rather empty. I'm wondering about creating some more permanent height with another trellis screen, but need to think carefully about its position so as not to block too much light from the rest of the planting. I have enough shady areas and don't really want more.

At this time of the year the house itself blocks the light from the garden, as the sun is still too low in the sky. Still, the last few weeks have seen the days becoming noticeably longer, with daylight lasting until well past 5pm. If it weren't so cold I'd have been out there making the most of the late afternoon light, but the warm house has seemed so much more inviting, and there isn't much you can do when the ground is frozen solid.

I dislike winter and though I've tried to update the site with poetic descriptions of frosted plants and the like, I've not felt in the least bit poetic or inspired through January and the first part of February. I don't like the cold and the short days. Still, the birds are beginning to sing, and soon the brown stems of the clematis outside my window will be covered with the creeping green of new growth.

22 February 2003

It's a while since I've spent a whole afternoon in the garden and I'd forgotten how good it is. I finally emptied the compost from the bottom of the compost heap, and spread it about as a mulch on the flowerbeds. This immediately made me feel better as it made the garden look cared-for, rather than a bit neglected, as it had been doing.

I pruned the thick bushy ivy that runs along the garden wall, as I realised last summer just how large a girth it had developed. This means that for a while it will look brown and ugly, but I know from previous years that it soon greens over. I also know that if I don't do it now I risk upsetting the birds' nests that are usually built in the ivy each spring.

Woodland Corner is full of snowdrops. I can see that many of them have sprung up in places where I didn't plant them, presumably a result of the earth-moving involved in making the pond and then building up raised planting areas in Woodland Corner.

The weather was mild enough for me to do a lot of that type of gardening I like best: standing about, drinking tea, and planning. The first day this year I've felt connected again with the garden.

Back to February highlights and diaries


Iris reticulata

Above: Iris reticulata

Garden diary: March