While things have been quiet on the blog front, it’s been busy in the garden. I’ve been trying to complete all the winter jobs before, well, the end of winter, which is about now. I have still quite a lot to do though and I’m puzzled as to why I have a sudden glut of winter maintenance work this year. I’m secretly hoping it’s not going to be a repeat every year.
A major job has been the renovation of the beech hedges. This is going to be a multi-year project to bring them back to a tighter, denser and more manageable form. The one in the back was getting particularly tall and blocking the light to Fruit Avenue so this winter I took the opportunity to run the chainsaw along its length at head height. It doesn’t look great but the new top should reform just above this. From looking at earlier pictures, the hedge has grown significantly in width as well and so when it’s recovered from this trauma, I’ll be going along the sides to reclaim some of the space we’ve lost. We’ve not had hedges before this garden and they’re funny things, they grow so slowly and imperceptibly but you turn around one day and suddenly you’ve lost half the garden to it and you need a large cherry picker to reach the top. While ours isn’t that bad, it was well on the way and it has been a learning exercise in using power tools to start bringing it back under control.
Major hedge renovation in progress
Another piece of work is the pruning of the roses. I’ve not quite finished this either and they’re already beginning to sprout. The climbing and shrub roses need to be pruned each year in late winter to set them up for a good show the following season. I’m still not entirely sure on whether I’m pruning right. There are lots of guides, how-to’s, tutorials and videos online when it comes to pruning roses but for me, there’s a still a strong element of “gut feel” when making the snip. I distinctly remember the pruning last year where my hands ended up shredded tying the rose stems to their arches and obelisks, thankfully it’s not been anywhere near as bad this year.
Some areas require health and safety management
The final and biggest piece of work is the winter mulching of the borders. I began this towards the end of this year and there is still a lot of ground to cover even now. The small borders around the house are done, the corner border is done, the middle island border is nearly done but only a bit of Fruit Avenue is done, leaving it’s whole length needing attention. I’m not sure how many bulk bags of compost and manure I’ve already got through, but there are currently five sat on the drive and I’m not expecting a great deal left over by the time I finish. It’s a formidable job and one that I have to gradually chip away at, one barrowload at a time.
Mulching not quite finished
In between working these jobs has been the usual winter clean-up of cutting back the dead parts of herbaceous perennials, getting the worst of the leaves off the grass, keeping the greenhouse plants ticking over, neatening the border edges and making sure the birds have food and water in the worst of the weather. Usually I hibernate over the winter as the garden lies dormant but this year, I feel like part of a hotel night crew, doing the cleaning and getting the breakfast on ready for the first guests waking up.
Clematis pruning? Too late for this year
We have had some cold weather and snow recently, but it’s not stopped the crocus and Camellias from flowering nor the roses and Clematis from shooting. While I haven’t completed all the winter work, there isn’t much left in the grand scheme of things and it won’t be a disaster if I’m still mulching Fruit Avenue in May. I know the next major job on the horizon is cleaning and re-sealing the patio, ready for the Nomadic Patio Pot collection to gather again in April, when it should really start warming up.