Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Washing birches

Sunday was wash time for the birches as well. We have over twenty white stemmed birches Betula utilis 'Grayswood Ghost' which gather green algae over the year and when we get the power hose out to clean the paviours, (prior to our winter open day, this year on Feb 14th) we also take the hose to the birches and with a powerful jet of water they come up as good as new. It takes about ten minutes a tree, and I get soaked. Its a good job I have wet gear on, but the trouble is the taller they get the higher I have to go with the spray; and you can guess its not a warm job in January!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Wash Sunday! Bird boxes

Have you heard the birdsong recently? The air is warmer, the birds are singing away and we thought it was time to wash all the nesting boxes. Five out of six had been used last year so thats good news.

It will soon be Valentine's Day when its Open House for birds and all our NGS visitors! For dates and times see

Our Winter Walk is beginning to wake up at last with snowdrops and aconites and daffodils beginning to push through the dark earth while up above the cornus stems are a gorgeous fiery orange.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bee News

Sunday was such a lovely day to garden after all the horrid winter weather we have had over the last three weeks. We were itching to get out and managed to cut down all the japanese anemones in the wisteria walk, plus the late clematis on the arches there and in general weed and tidy it all up...a full days work for the two of us.

And in the middle of it all, along came Chris Lewis with a jar of honey. He had come to inspect his two beehives which he left here in August after our swarm last May (see earlier honey bee post). The snowy weather had stopped him checking before Christmas but now he thought he would see how they were, and, give them some verroa mite treatment.

We were pleased to see that both colonies seemed alive and well and had obviously survived the cold weather. Now we have to wait til spring to see if the hives are then healthy. All very exciting; a whole new world for us to learn about.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Chinese Snow Lanterns

With or without their snow hats, these Chinese lanterns bring a lovely warm glow to the garden. We could call them Chinese Snow Hats! They grow on a corner of the drive with winter jasmine behind them and the two make a great late autumn/winter combo.

Friday, 8 January 2010

My very own Igloo

We had thick snow for a whole week before Christmas and with this last blanket predicted to go on well into next week I think I will call the Winter of 2009/2010 the 'Winter of the Igloo'.

This 'Solardome' is over 30 years old, we inherited it when we bought the house. With a 16ft diameter, it is brilliant for housing all my summer tender beauties including cannas, fushsias, tall aeoniums, geraniums, dasylirions etc.etc.

Mind you the heating bill is going to be large. Should I ditch the lot and go back to having only hardy plants??? It might be better for global warming.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow Chop, flop or Leave

The previous set of photos showed a set of frosty sedums. Here are the same sedums with a covering of snow, although now they are in reverse order.

Look closely at the Hepworth garden sedums (with birch trees and grasses behind and sculpture wood) which are weak and weighed down with snow, those are the ones I chopped in May. Now if you enlarge the photo you will see some have flopped badly near the path yet others seem to be upright behind. This is because when I cut them the outer ones were bigger and the central area was smaller so I left those; so the ones I chopped have collapsed, the weaker ones I left have remained intact.

The ones that have split are old clumps which have just been left alone.

The ones with the grasses and house in the distance were planted in 2008 and are bolt upright. They could cope with the heavy snowfall.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Chop, Flop or Leave

My Sedum specatible in the garden is at various ages. This is a significant factor; so is our heavy clay soil which means everything seems to grow much bigger than any dimensions ever given in an RHS book.

In its first three years here at Stevington, it grows superbly and the winter picture is magnificent whether it bears frost or snow. Year 4+ it splits or flops and looks like the waves of a sea.

Last May I decided to give the Chelsea Chop to one main bed of it, actually part of my Hepworth Garden based on her painting called Green Caves. It quickly re established itself but the flowers were not as big as before nor the stems as strong. This meant that in the December snow they couldnot cope with the weight and twisted and collapsed...quite sad. Now in January with yet more snow they will be even weaker.

Not quite sure what the answer is; maybe the Hepworth weak growth which I chopped last May, will have weakened the plant and I can just leave it alone next year. I know at Coton Manor they weaken the roots by lifting them slightly with a fork. So far I havenot tried that heavy sticky clay soil is not easy to manage like that.

Truth be told I am enjoying the new planting of 2008 best, its not yet reached that flop stage!

Perhaps we have to replant every three years.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Festive table

This is a festive table decoration with a difference; the eggs are planted with house leeks and other succulents and then brought inside for the Festive Season along with Chinese lanterns and tangerines. It certainly made a colourful centrepiece for all our family breakfasts.
Happy New Year everyone!