January Diary Notes

The outside Christmas lights still need taking down (don’t worry, we’ve unplugged them) but there’s still three full bulk bags of compost and manure sat on the drive untouched. Guess which one I’m going to work on first? The winter season is a dormant period for most plants and that gives me a chance to work through a list of of items before spring whirls in and whisks me off my feet. The terminally unsettled winter weather, where we have heavy rain one day and gorgeous sunshine the next, leaves me dizzy and makes planning impossible.

Two roses and a tree left in the “temporary” bed

One thing on the list I must deal with are two trees I have in a temporary bed, they’ve been in there for the last two years. Now is the time to get them moved to their final location out in the garden, if only I had the ground ready. There is a Prunus Serrula: a Tibetan Cherry with the most incredible polished smooth red-brown bark that gleams in the sunlight, and a Laburnum Waterei Vossii, which is essentially a wisteria in tree-form but yellow.

Border dug and Laburnum planted, with watering pipe

Moving the trees now while they are asleep means they won’t notice the transplant and should grow away happily in Spring, it’ll be like waking up to find you’ve arrived at your destination (or the terminal stop, anyway). I’m continuing to do winter clean up chores such as taking out the dead perennial growth as bright new green shoots are emerging, neatening the border edges and mulching. Ideally cutting back the dead stuff and tidying up should be done later in the spring for the benefit of the wildlife but for a garden with such large borders, there simply isn’t enough time as Spring brings with it its own list of demands. For me, starting the clear-up now means there’s a chance I can get the Spring stuff done in Spring and not Summer.

Emerging Clematis shoots (another pruning job)

I have to admit that the large semi-circular border is intimidating me, it’s so expansive I’m not sure how and where to start. I actually don’t mind if it’s not started for another year as for 2018, I want to have the borders around the Landing Pad done and some more rubbish cleared. The semi-circular border may be the final part of the garden to be addressed and what a final project that will be!

A most formidable border (and still to be extended)

Meanwhile, back on the patio, it continues to remain bare, devoid of the nomadic patio pots that pool over the summer. As I step out of the kitchen doors into the bracing wind and rain, I often remember the patio at the height of summer, with the barbecue, parasol, bistro table, sun loungers, large terracotta pots and exotic plants. Add in a jug of Pimms and a Victoria sponge cake, and it’s not far from being on holiday. If we’re lucky we’ll be able to start sitting outside in April or even late March, it’ll be much longer before the sun loungers are back out though.

An empty patio longing for Summer

I’ve not been working on the half of the garden that remains in permanent shade over the winter, it’s just too cold. The in-shade part is all of Fruit Avenue and most of the crescent border. Being a fair-weather gardener means the parts of the garden that remain in sun in the winter get the most attention. In the coming months the sun will climb higher in the sky and the shadow will draw back, making working in this part of the garden a much more civilised experience. That won’t be for some time yet though so in the mean time, as the sun has just cleared the trees and the corner border is no longer in shade, I’ll be off to grab the wheelbarrow, shovel and start working on those bulk bags that are still sat on the drive.

6 Comments


  1. Sunil, I know just how your patio feels! I was looking out at our deck the other day in the miserable cold weather, thinking about warm temperatures, drinking wine and cooking on the grill. It seems a long way off at this moment! In fact thus far, we’ve had the worst winter since moving to the mountains in 2011. But time will pass and we’ll be back out there listening to music and watching for flying squirrels before we know it. Cheers!!

    Reply

    1. Hello Lynn, exactly, I have the perfect photo of the patio in the hazy summer sunshine, with the table set, chairs, parasol, barbecue and of course the nomadic patio pot collection surrounding it all. It’s still several months away from seeing and experiencing that again!

      Reply

  2. Your fruit avenue is in shade – I thought fruit trees wanted full sun? As for me, I have been AWOL as far as gardening goes. I could be out there catching up on pruning, I suppose.

    Reply

    1. The border ground of Fruit Avenue and the fruit tree trunks are in permanent shade in the winter because of the hedge, but it all comes into the sunshine from spring onwards. The tree canopies are in sun, even in the winter as they are taller than the hedge.

      Reply

  3. Will your cherry tree keep that red color as it matures? I have a native Prunus pensylvanica that has beautiful red bark, but only on young wood; as it matures, the bark turns rough and brown.

    Reply

    1. Hello Jean, yes it will, the colour doesn’t fade or change with the age of the tree, this particular variety is famed for it. We’ve seen large specimens in winter gardens that have the same bright polished bark as ours is developing. It gets better as it gets older!

      Reply

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