Sunday, 18 February 2018
I have to say that February at the nursery can be a bit overwhelming: everything looks such a mess and customers will be arriving in March. Old, loyal customers won't mind but, what will new customers make of it all! Our beautiful grass carpark, that in summer is full of clovers and buttercups humming with bees, is a treacherous, boggy mess. It is in desperate need of cutting. The fronts of all the compost bins are disintegrating. The willows, are natural poly tunnel shading, need pruning. Fallen leaves have accumulated under all the benches and moss seems to have grown everywhere! But, today was a beautiful day. So in the words of Eric Robson, "Onwards and Upwards."
I spent the day scraping moss from the top of benches. Beneath the benches it had formed a soft lush bed, which needed to be hoed and raked. Crazily, I found myself apologising to the moss. Up close, it has a truly beautiful structure. Not helping assuage my guilt, every time Andy walked by he said, "Sorry moss."
A beautiful miniature landscape.
This came from one bench - so had to be done!
While scraping away, I couldn't help thinking that we gardeners and nursery owners, do more damage than good. Let's face it, the only truly wildlife friendly garden is a totally wild one, with brambles, nettles and the wonderful, late flowering ivy spilling everywhere. I console myself with the fact that we don't import plants and diseases from abroad, we grow everything here from little seeds, cuttings or division: just the two of us. Our plants are not full of systemic poisons harming every creature that lands upon them, filtering into our soils and leaching into our waterways. Each pot is hand watered and weeded. Oh no! I've just reminded myself of my next job: weeding all those pots. I'm afraid that this is what goes on in my mind in February. I flip from, "It's all too much" to "Don't worry. It'll all work out" in quick succession.
While I scraped away, Andy removed our make-shift poly tunnels. We always hold our breath at this point. The tunnels are left open-ended to allow for good air flow, thus avoiding the conditions for mould and the like, so we have been able to look in and get an idea of how the plants are growing. But, it's not until the tunnels are fully removed that we get the true picture. Today, it was a joyous moment, when we stood back to view all the plants looking green and healthy.
Hooray! All looking fit and healthy
Even though it was a freezing day, the sun was hot enough to burn my face. The little pots in the large poly tunnel need to be watered. To water, or not to water that is the question. Most of our plants can survive the cold. It is a mixture of cold and wet that generally kills plants. With no electricity and hence, no heating, we have to get the watering right. So far, all the little pots have survived this winter, growing slowly their foliage is tough and healthy. Today's sunshine and our watering may spurt the plants to put on new soft growth. With an expected cold snap ahead, that new growth could be damaged. But if we don't water, they will surely die. It is always a dilemma at this time of year. Andy decides to water. Fingers crossed!
Notice the black tubs. We fill them with water. The sun heats the water. Plants get a little extra warmth.
Some people would just love to have my worries right now. When I get overwhelmed with so much to do, I remind myself that I could be living in a high-rise block of flats, with no garden; be on a zero-hour contract, with little prospects of change; or a whole load of other things too depressing to write here. It is easy to lose sight of the beauty in our lives: "You don't know what you've got, 'til it's gone" (Joni Mitchell). As you can tell February is not my finest month. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to March, when we can get back in touch, have a good chat, and my spirits are lifted. Here's a picture to brighten all our lives: particularly mine!
The robins are pairing up.
Sunday, 18 February 2018
A friend once described February as the morning after an all-night party: it's half past four in the morning, you're tired, hung-over and would really like to go home now, and the wait is so boring. This is such a good analogy of how I feel right now. I just can't wait for the new season to really 'kick in'. However, it does give us time to walk around the garden and take stock. Throughout the year we take photos as a reminder of areas that worked well and planting schemes that didn't match up to our expectations. Over the winter months we review theses photos and make plans for any changes needed. Hopefully, you have done this also and can now think about re-designing some of your borders and ordering seeds. Now is a good time to prepare sweet-pea beds, and in sheltered spots, erecting the supports. If, like us, you didn't manage to find the time to remove all the old leaves from Hellebores, do it now! Take care to avoid the new and emerging flowers. Not only does it mean that you can better view the flowers, but it removes any diseased foliage.
We use a lot of natural supports throughout the garden borders: Hazel being the best. I'm always cursing, in the summer, as I never seem to have put in enough. This year I will have plenty. We have cut, collected and stored Hazel from a fallen tree in the wild area.
Tried to get a romantic picture of me walking off into the setting sun!? My fingers were frozen and I'm covered in mud. Ah! The joys of gardening. But on the walk back to the garden, I did make time for a quick tree hug.
This beautiful Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) was planted in the late 1700s. It always comes into leaf later than the other Horse Chestnuts and perhaps that's why it seems to avoid the dreaded leaf miner that has become such a problem. Exceptionally attractive when covered with its stout candles of flowers, white with a yellow then red blotch. Providing the familiar conkers of children's games in autumn.
Sunday, 28 January 2018
It's the time of year that many of us choose not to go out in the garden. But trust me, if you can drag yourself out there, wrapped up warm, on those dry, crisp days. it lifts your spirits. At Cheriton Cottage the Crocus, Eranthus, and Ipheions are emerging from their dormancy and there are thousands of Galanthus (Snowdrops) everywhere! Close to the house wall, we spotted two of the highly-scented Iris unguicularis (commonly called Iris stylosa).
We have been busy finishing the winter pruning of shrubs, thinning out and removing diseased and dying branches. The young, straggly shoots of the Wisteria have been cut back to within three buds of the old wood. We finally finished the Apple Tree pruning last week!
We try not to be too tidy in the garden, always leaving some dead tops on herbaceous plants in the borders and small piles of leaves here and there. Many beneficial insects and their larvae take shelter here over the winter months. In our own garden, we leave everything until late spring, especially hollow stems for the ladybirds and lacewings. But it is time to tackle those early annual weeds, and to start digging out those persistent perennial weeds: a job done now means less work in the summer.
The Cornus alba 'Siberica' (Dogwood) gave a glorious autumnal show in October.
Once the leaves had dropped the beautiful, red stems brightened the winter months.
In March we cut the stems back to the ground and the Leucojums come into full view.
Tuesday, 2 January 2018
Apologies to those of you who looked forward to reading the blog: it didn't happen! Last year proved to be the busiest we have ever experienced. The benefits of a five minute slot on Gardeners' World has been unbelievable: there has not been a minute to spare. My New Year's Resolution is to try and write at least once a month.
At the moment we are starting to update the website. The Events Page is almost done and we will be starting to update the Plant List in the coming weeks. We are hoping, beyond hope, to start Mail Orders in April - watch this space!
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
Kalimeris mongolica v Eurybia divaricata
There seems to have been a bit of a mix up in the editing of our little piece for Gardeners' World. Many of you spotted the glaring mistake. Andy was talking about Kalimeris mongolica and the image shown was of him holding Eurybia divaricata (formerly known as Aster divaricata). We had purchased a small pot of Kalimeris mongolica (Ghengis Khan Aster), back in early spring, from the lovely Jack and Laura of 'Wildegoose Nursery' home of 'Bouts Violas'. We potted it on and Andy took cuttings and it went on to perform beautifully. This plant promises to be a real 'good doer'. It started flowering in July and went on into Autumn and there were no signs of the mildew that often attacks Asters. So to eliminate any confusion.....
Toward the end of summer we were lucky enough to be visited by a budding daisy expert, Maddie. On holiday, from Australia, she called in at the nursery to put the record straight. Like many of you, Maddie did get distracted by our beautiful unnamed Helianthus. The one that we dug up and gave to customers who were determined to have it, even though it came with a 'severe, thug warning' from us.
Like many of you, Maddie mesmerised by the bright yellow Helianthus.
Maddie, with Eurybia divaricata, but still mesmerised by the yellow Helianthus.
Finally, Maddie gives a big 'thumbs up' to Kalimeris mongolica
We do hope that Maddie has helped to put right any confusion regarding Kalimeris mongolica and Eurybia divaricata (formerly Aster divaricata).
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Roxana Fraser, Garden Designer & Our Photographer.
Common Blue in Nursery Wild Area
Poly tunnel at The Nursery
Painted Lady Butterfly on Buddlja 'White Profusion'
Peacock Butterfly in Nursery Wild Area
Knot Grass Moth Caterpillar in Wild Area
Busy Bee on Symphyotrichum