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February, Highs of Fifteen


It’s meant to be the coldest month of the year, but it doesn’t feel like it. We’ve had some really stunning, warm sunny days. I’ve enjoyed looking at them from the comfort of the office, while gritting my teeth at the forecast that predicts rain at the weekend and re-counting the list of gardening jobs my head one more time in the vain hope it might actually reduce the work load.

We’ve had two “weather phenomena” that has led to a mild deep-winter. The first was from a blast of hot air from the South, courtesy of a high pressure system that cleared much of the cold air out of the way. Shortly after came a “Caribbean blast” from the West. Weather from the west in winter typically means rain as it hits the cold air over the UK but it didn’t happen this time, we just had clear skies, cool nights and lots of sunshine.

Right now though, we’re waiting for Storm Doris to come across from the Atlantic. The worst of it should last for about an afternoon before moving on. From the “whooshing” of the tree-tops, it sounds like the vanguard has arrived.

With the weather not being so great at the weekend and not enough daylight after hours during the working week, I’ve been very limited in what I can do in the garden. At this time of year, the winter clean-up is on my mind and so plants are being cut down or pruned and borders are being mulched. It’s not terribly sexy stuff. The “Great Wall” of Delphiniums and Verbena Bonariensis is being cut down for this year’s re-growth, which is already sprouting. The rose bed at the front has been pruned and a thick mulch applied to bury the Rose Leaf Black Spot spores. Fruit Avenue has a wonderful collection of daisies (common daisies) that I will transplant into the grass. The sweet peas have been sown and I haven’t got round to cutting the Clematis back before it’s started sprouting, so I will just leave them for this year. I’m grateful they’re alive, to be fair, pruning them might be pushing it.

Oh, and my book is being proof-read.

The only major development is the flowering of the crocuses that were planted in the corner border last year. They’re looking a little sparse and there are meant to be two other varieties apart from just the yellow. It’s been difficult to get a good picture of them as they close up in dull weather and almost disappear, so this one will have to do:

The eagle-eyed will be able to spot the plug-hole in the middle of the border. The piled up manure on the left is protecting the ginger lily. I’m hoping that in subsequent years, this will turn into a vibrant carpet of crocus before the Alliums emerge, followed by the Dahlias. This is the first year that we have a “mass” flowering before the Camellias. The Camellias have always kicked off the new flowering season but these cheery yellow crocuses are blooming away while the Camellia buds are only just beginning to show colour. The crocuses themselves followed the Sarcococca, which is still flowering, though these don’t really count as they’re still small plants.

There’s a polite reminder of imminent work in the form of four bulk bags of compost sat calmly and patiently on the drive. I can feel them judging me every time I go past. While we worked all the new borders over with a rotator and dug down to a couple of spade depths, soil settling has meant the borders have actually sunk several inches and so the compost is to “top-up” the levels and re-gain a little more of the border contours.

If only the weather would give me a bit of a break and stop being so foul at the weekend, or perhaps that’s precisely what it is doing..?

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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casa mariposa 26/02/2017 - 3:56 pm

Our winter has been crazy warm, too, and my garden is about a month ahead of schedule. It’s nuts!! But, there’s not much I can do about it, even though I don’t have any real tasks I can do this early except keep my seedlings alive. I wish I could pop myself back into your garden this summer to see it again. 🙂

Sunil 02/03/2017 - 8:14 pm

Hello Tammy, I’m looking to seeing the garden in midsummer too, at the moment I’m doing summer bulb planting, 300 Crocosmia just went in the ground this evening. I could have done with having glow-in-the-dark bulbs to help me plant them as the light was rapidly fading!


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