Iris danfordiae

Above: Iris danfordiae

Garden diary: January

28 February 2005

In the entry below at the beginning of February I referred to the cold weather that was forecast. I'm not sure if the cold weather lasted for the entire month of February, but it's beginning to feel like it's been going on for at least a month, if not longer. I suppose it's only been a week or two, but still, no gardening has been possible, and everything's been covered with snow several times.

The area in front of the south-facing wall remains generally snow-free, and here the winter-flowering iris - Iris unguicularis - is producing a continuous display of beautiful pale blue/lilac flowers. It took a while for this plant to establish, and for a year or three it was merely a clump of grassy leaves. Now it appears to be making up for lost time, with flower after flower unfurling, despite the winter cold.

In front of it are some purple crocuses, which I must have planted at some point though I don't remember this and have no record of the variety. They looked beautiful when the winter sun encouraged them to open fully, and I'm glad I captured them on camera, as since then they're looking a bit bashed about.

Crocus, flowering in winter sun, February 2005Crocus, February 2005

3 February 2005

Hurrah! It's February! The birds are zipping around beginning to look for mates, and green points of growth are appearing on the previously dead-looking clematis stems.

Last night I finally got around to uploading the January updates, and noticed that I'd sounded rather morose and irritable. It's something about January. Silly really, as it's not as if, overnight between 31 January and 1 February, everything shifts. It's slow and imperceptible, the change, and probably the cold weather that is forecast for this weekend will see some stalling of the current growth, and the birds may quieten down a bit. But once the move towards spring begins, it builds momentum so that gradually everything is greened over. The first signs of this are always welcome. I've been writing this online journal of the garden for some years now, and feel like there's some inevitable repetition. Though the writing may become repetitive (and if it does, I apologise) the experience of the movement towards spring growth is always new, like seeing it for the first time.

Now, at the beginning of February, the growth is still small, and the flowers of this season are small too, but perfectly formed. In pots on the windowsill the Iris danfordiae (pictured above, left) began to open as February arrived. Today I noticed that in the pots of Iris reticulata (above, right), the thick green shoots have elongated over the last day or two, and are already beginning to split open, to reveal the first hints of sumptuous purple.

Today I managed to escape from work for a few hours, long enough to spend a few hours gardening. A Clematis cirrhosa had to be hauled out of the branches of the Sorbus (Rowan) tree. I must remember not to encourage enormous climbers to grow up small trees.

Elsewhere, the old bath, still not planted properly with permanent planting, needed a coat of paint along its top edge, which I'd left undercoated, but without a top coat, about a year ago. As I suspected might happen, it had begun to chip off. As the old bath has been there a year, and I think I've at last decided that I don't mind the look of it too much, and have almost decided what to plant in it, it really did need a proper coat of paint.

The garden really does need some work, mainly the path areas. I was panicking a little about the amount that needs to be done on some neglected structural elements (like the paths), but have realised that I was being melodramatic, and that it can be tackled in stages and fit around other work. Working from home, it's hard to ignore how shabby it's all looking, as every time I look out of the window I see muddy gravel and brick paths that need repointing.

But today it all seemed manageable. Today, with brightness in the sky and spring in the air, and the afternoon noticeably longer, now we're so many weeks past the shortest day. The last part of the day had that spring-like quality, with the light rather more golden, and stretching a little further across the garden than it did in mid-December.

Back to February highlights and diaries


Iris reticulata

Above: Iris reticulata

Garden diary: March