Iris danfordiae

Above: Iris danfordiae

Garden diary: January

19 February 2009

Maybe the excitement of the first signs of springtime growth is greater after a more severe winter. We've had more cold and more snow than usual, and I've not been out in the garden much, only dashing around one afternoon trying to prune some clematis that needed it, indeed doing only what was needed - ie the minimum - for months. This afternoon I was out there for about five hours, on the first proper gardening day this year.

It took me a while to get started - it always does - but not long before I was remembering how much I love this small patch of land and all the things that grow in it, and the smell of the soil, even though it's still cold and clammy after all the cold and snow. Small points of green are pushing up through it. The akebia and clematis stems are showing those tiny points of growth that seem to appear overnight, at the first sign of milder air.

The birds have been giddy with the scent of spring for some weeks now, and a dawn chorus is building already. A dunnock, I noticed, had started to build a nest already in the akebia's tangle, but I think it was perhaps one of those practise nests some birds seem to build but never actually nest in, as it's been left unfinished, though the pair of dunnocks are still around, bobbing about, all shuffling wings.

A couple of nights ago I realised that things really were shifting to spring when I saw a couple of frogs, at the top of our street, when I was on my way to the shop. In the dark I still recognised the shape of the squat little creature sitting on the pavement, and identification was confirmed when it hopped, on noticing my approach. A metre or so away, another one. How exciting. There they are, on the first damp and slightly milder night after all the recent freezing ones. Both of them were up at the far end of our street, so I'm not sure where they were heading, but they were both pointing towards our house, and the mini-pond.

Apart from the iris pictured on the home page, there's not much bright colour in the garden, apart from the mahonia, cheery yellow. Particularly splendid, if not colourful, are the tassels of the Garrya elliptica, which seem particularly long and luxuriant this year.

Today as I was gardening and tidying I had to sort through a collection of pots with plants in - plastic pots where I'd put various things dug up in autumn. These had been dug up for various reasons. I wanted to keep most of them, and so had carefully labelled what they were. Or thought I had. There's always one, isn't there. In fact there were a couple of unlabelled pots that looked like whatever was in them was dead. This is always a little disquieting - is the dead plant a favourite? - or just an annual I forgot to throw out earlier? Should I throw it away now, or wait a bit longer to see if it grows? I was poking a stumpy thing that looked decidedly rotten, but put it back in the pots collection anyway - you never know.

Exciting how many things were growing, when I got out there and looked properly.

Back to February highlights and diaries


Iris reticulata

Above: Iris reticulata

Garden diary: March