Garden Blog - Blog Post

Starting Without Me


It’s been mild and wet recently.

That’s a statement that would validly apply to the weather here at any time of year, not just at the end of January as we are at now.

Winter hasn’t bothered to impose itself strongly and while we have had occasional storms and heavy showers pass through, as well as clear nights with frosty mornings, there’s been nothing to be overly concerned about in my neck of the literal woods.

I’ve been doing the winter clean up chores and border edging during the sunnier and milder periods (when the ground hasn’t been too wet) and I’ve noticed that with the mild weather, the garden has decided to start on the new season early, with many plants emerging from the ground or starting to swell and open their buds for the coming Spring – before we’ve even reached February.

This has meant that I’m not going to be able to mulch without burying the emerging shoots. I’ll also have to be much more careful cutting back old plants so that I don’t also chop the new growth coming through.

It feels like a year-round flowering garden means it’s also a garden that never sleeps. While there is far less growing activity happening in the winter, all the winter-flowering plants are, of course, active. Bulbs are busy growing under the soil and plants like Arum Italicum and crocuses are also in full swing.

I, however, do need a break sometimes, even if the garden doesn’t, so I am gradually learning to simply accept that no matter how ahead or behind I am with my gardening chores, the garden will simply start without me. The clematis and roses will shoot before I can get to prune them. The bulbs will emerge before I have chance to mulch the border and the Delphiniums and Crocosmia will sprout before I’m able to put up the support structures they will need in the summer.

In some ways it’s liberating knowing the garden will simply continue on and let me catch up at my own pace. In some ways it’s annoying that I’m easily out-paced by plants.

Either way, I will eventually catch-up in my own time and that might mean I have to skip some jobs like mulching, or do them at a less-optimal time of year, but there’s no negotiating a start-time with nature. February may slow things down, with the coldest weather withering a lot of the new shoots, but they will simply re-sprout as soon at the weather becomes mild again, and they’ll just keep going and going.

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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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Lynn Hunt 03/02/2020 - 3:07 pm

Sunil, I have learned not to be lured into pruning before the forsythia blooms here. We have some lovely February days then March swoops in with a vengeance! If I prune early and then the roses die back, I will just have to prune again. So I will patiently wait for the “real” spring! Take care.

Sunil 04/02/2020 - 9:22 am

Wow Lynn, that is very late! As I have quite a few roses to get through (I’m sure you do too!), I’ll be trying to get a few done at a time so the last ones might be finished when our forsythia is out.

Jean 04/02/2020 - 1:04 am

It’s too soon for new growth here in Maine, and the ground is still covered with snow; but we’ve also been having mild temperatures for this time of year, and I keep thinking it’s March instead of early February. Before we know it, the real spring will arrive! (I love how fast the days get longer at this time of year.)

Sunil 04/02/2020 - 9:24 am

Hello Jean, I expect you’ll have snow cover for a while yet, especially with February still to go. I’m with you on noticing the days getting longer, all of a sudden, it’s light at 5:00pm and it is also starting to lighten up on my morning commute so I won’t have to drive in the dark for much longer.

susan maclean 04/02/2020 - 11:17 am

Me too Sunil. My early daffs have buds ready to open and I noticed yesterday that my clematis are ready to go with new shoots. Roses, yes, the same. Blimey, surely Winter does not stop until March??!!!

Sunil 04/02/2020 - 12:01 pm

Winter’s supposed to be until March, but it’s currently taking a break, so Spring is filing in the gap. It’ll come back later, when it’s supposed to be Spring and then it’ll be like the cat at the door – half-in, half-out, not sure which is better.

gardeninacity 07/02/2020 - 7:14 pm

I try to cut back the Clematis in February, and to prune the roses. If the weather is nice I may start on the spring cleanup. We have a couple of inches of snow on the ground right now.

Sunil 09/02/2020 - 10:39 am

Hello Jason, it’s tough (impossible) to garden when there’s a layer of snow and ground is frozen. I know there’s certain jobs that need to be done at certain times but I can’t help but work on “one border at a time” so I can see progress – as opposed to one set of plants at a time. At least I have the coming years to see what works best and I might even get more efficient at it.

casa mariposa 08/02/2020 - 3:47 am

The garden dances to its own beat, whether we join in or not. I have sobaria in my garden, too. Mine haven’t leafed out yet, which I’m thankful for. Too much warmth is scary. The planet is just boiling so cold days are reassuring, even if it’s a false reassurance. I’ve already cut back my roses because they’d started to grow in December!

Sunil 09/02/2020 - 10:42 am

Sorbaria runs like mint! I spend ages pulling up the runners each year as they disappear off in all directions. It’s a graceful shrub but has an evil way of spreading. My roses never seem to stop growing, they’ve leafed out quite a lot recently and we get get the odd flowers in December. I think David Austin roses would just continuously grow and flower all year round if there wasn’t a winter season in the way.


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