Garden Blog - Blog Post

January Running Commentary


In between my parents staying, rain squalls, storms, family get-togethers, baking and work, I’ve only managed to do little bits and pieces to advance the winter clean-up in the garden; so I popped out into the garden just now to take a few photos and I’m going to provide a running commentary on each one.

The early crocus are starting to make an appearance. Granted this is only one of two flowers that I can see at the moment, I’m hoping the others aren’t far behind. I’m not sure whether the crocus in the Corner border are spreading or dwindling, they just seem to be migrating to different areas as far as I can tell. Anyway, this photo is proof that the flowering season continues in the garden without break – no matter how feeble is it. I’ll be bolstering the winter flowering with the planned winter border – coming soon; but not that soon.

I took this photo as it’s one of those pivotal moments. This is Erodium Pelargoniflorum, from the previous garden. It’s evergreen, hardy, drought-proof, bomb-proof, attractive to wildlife, flowers beautifully and self-seeds prolifically. In other words, if I let this escape out into the garden, I will never be rid of it. I will either end up with beautiful drifts of this plant as it self seeds all over the garden, or I will end up cursing it as it smothers everything in its path. It’s contained in the patio wall at the moment, but I have a feeling it won’t stay confined there for long.

In this small strip of border and around the Landing Pad at the bottom of the garden are these grass-like shoots emerging from the soil. They are definitely not grass, nor sedge nor chives, but Narcissus Bulbocodium Conspicuus (Yellow Hoop Petticoat daffodil) that I planted a year ago, this will be their second year and they appear to have bulked up, which is great as I love the flowers. They’re not the traditional daffodil type – they’re highly stylised, but they don’t seem to be weak and feeble like some over-bred varieties can be, these are short, slender, elegant, spreading and above all, cheap! They flower late for daffodils (April) so I’ll be looking at the green for some time yet.

It’s the time of year to cut ferns back to the knuckle, which is perfectly hardy to any frost and snow that may be yet to come. The ferns in the garden have been planted over the years and the majority of them have been grown from spores. To think that something smaller than a grain of dust has grown into this conglomerate of plants in just a few years is extraordinary. There are many more ferns in the greenhouse that are gradually bulking up and I want to plant them en-masse all the way along the bottom of the beech hedge that runs the length of the garden. The money we’ve saved is also staggering. Each knuckle in this picture could be the best part of £10 at a garden centre so it’s well worth trying to grow from spores. It’s not difficult, but it does take a long time and you’ll have ferns by the hundreds.

Here’s a small area of the garden I cleared earlier. Underneath the soil are Dahlias and I don’t know if they’re going to survive. They are planted deep, which puts them out of the reach of frost, but well within reach of soggy and cold clay soil. If the Dahlias survive, we’ll see the shoots sometime in May, which is a very long time for an area to stay empty. I’ll have to stud this patch with bulbs and other spring flowering plants that do their thing and are finished by summer, so won’t mind the dahlias sitting on top of them. I was going to put a group of three hydrangea here (despite there being room for about one). I may still revert back to that plan if the dahlias turn their noses up at the winter wet.

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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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Jean 20/01/2020 - 3:54 pm

Sunil, I envy you your January flowers, but I don’t envy you the 12-month garden season. Any garden chores I don’t get to by November get nicely buried by snow — out of sight, out of mind! Of course, shoveling said snow and hauling around wood for my woodstove makes up for the break from garden work. 😉

Sunil 24/01/2020 - 9:02 pm

Hello Jean, out of sight and out os mind sounds good sometimes, though shovelling snow is very hard work. Here the garden can been too wet or the soil too frozen to work with, which does give me some enforced time off, but too long and I start getting itchy fingers, a gardener’s “Cabin Fever”.

Lynn Hunt 20/01/2020 - 5:48 pm

Sunil, so glad your blog is re-emerging! And I’m glad you made some decisions that will pave the way to a happier life. We are having quite a strange winter. No snow at all thus far and temperatures reminiscent of late spring. I hope the roses don’t get zapped in March with bitter cold. I was interested to read about your dahlias. I find I am enjoying them more and more each summer. I have to treat mine as annuals – I tried the dig up and store method, but nothing survived. I might as well just put in new ones. Take care my friend!

Sunil 24/01/2020 - 9:07 pm

Hello Lynn, the blog had taken a break while I was coming to terms with making some big decisions. I can’t believe you haven’t had snow in the mountains yet! For the dahlias, the garden centres sell cheap “bedding dahlias” as annuals (typically small varieties that grow to around a foot tall) and then there are the more expensive, “proper” dahlias. I’ve been trying to overwinter the bedding ones in the greenhouse. For the “store” method, there’s lots of advice online on how to do it and what to watch out for. Perhaps try with a few dahlias each time/year until you get success?

aberdeen gardening 20/01/2020 - 5:54 pm

I am fine with running commentaries Sunil, as long as its about gardening. Crocus are just peeking through here at the moment, no flowers. Dahlias would not survive being left out here in the Winter.

Sunil 24/01/2020 - 9:10 pm

It’s always going be about gardening here 🙂 usually. I think I am taking a big risk with the dahlias here too as we have heavy wet clay and we’re mild, but not that mild – we’re always wet in winter, which is just about the worst combination for overwintering dahlias in the ground. In fact, I’m already thinking about replacements for if/when they’re a no-show.

casa mariposa 21/01/2020 - 2:16 am

I’m always amazed at your prowess with fern spores! I left my dahlias in the garden this year, too, after I wasn’t that successful keeping the tubers happy after I lifted them only to discover the tubers I’d overlooked and left in the garden grew beautifully. But I’m growing loads more dahlias from seed in case they all die out of spite for having to endure winter. For every plant that could grow in the meanest, driest spot there are those beautiful divas that seduce us with their ridiculously beautiful blooms only to demand 5 star treatment all year. If my dahlias are divas, they can die. I’ve already lined up a new group of starlets to take their place. It’s rough out there! Haha!!

Sunil 24/01/2020 - 9:15 pm

Hello Tammy, I’m not kidding when I say it’s easy to grow ferns, it just takes a long time for them to develop and grow into decent-sized plants so you’re having to look after them for a long periods. For dahlias, while I do like them, and particularly like some of the varieties on offer, I’m not going to go out of my way to mollycoddle them in the garden either. I did also read “starlets” as “harlots” so perhaps I should go away and calm down!

gardeninacity 25/01/2020 - 3:42 am

That’s a sweet little Crocus, and your Erodium sounds like quite an interesting customer. Nice to get a glimpse of your garden in January.

Sunil 26/01/2020 - 3:06 pm

Hello Jason, unfortunately that sweet little crocus is getting pummelled by rain at the moment. That’s what you get for being early. It would not surprise me at all if I started having nightmares about the Erodium, it’s such a lovely plant. The flowers are so pretty and the seeds are spread by the pod drying, twisting taught and then bursting open on contact, flinging the seeds out, which starts a chain reaction in any reasonable-sized clump. I can curse it and love it simultaneously.


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