Welcome to my garden journal entry for February 15th 2020.
The Intro… I’m a professional gardener and post weekly to record my gardening experiences and activity. My main workplace is Broadwell Manor, Gloucestershire for Rachel de Thame, although this journal is independent and content does not necessarily represent views of my employer.
The past week was expected to be sandwiched uncomfortably between Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, so before the weather could move in last Saturday I nipped out for a quick stroll at the nearby National Trust garden of Charlecote Park, for some fresh air and a floral fix. I was certainly not disappointed with a subtle and pretty selection of late winter blooms on offer alongside the twining, log-edged paths of Mary Elizabeth’s woodland garden.
My first image below therefore represents the numerous hellebores that were informally placed around the gardens, with their hanging flowers just waiting to be delicately upturned for closer enjoyment. In addition to some beautiful hellebores there were many other blooms to enjoy including a variety of Galanthus, and Primulas, even a Bergenia.
Before long the garden visit, indeed the weekend was over and done with, and it was to Broadwell for me on Monday to start the week with a ‘storm walk,’ to check for any weekend damage.
Thankfully damage was restricted to twiggy offerings and most of this was actually dead branch tips that Ciara had helpfully lowered to the ground for us – although the next image is a reminder that even the softest of dead timber can cause damage if it falls in a particular way – so always be aware!
Despite the fluctuating weather patterns, the late winter flowers presently to be found around Broadwell Manor are looking magnificent just now. Sprinkled confetti-like in many lawn areas, drifts of snowdrops, early crocus and various primulas have perfectly seeded around. Throughout this week’s 26 miles of walking I frequently witnessed these flowers dancing comically in the chilly winds.
As if by magic, the clouds parted on Wednesday – perfectly timed for the first 2020 day of activity based volunteering at Broadwell. I was glad to welcome Alex and Mary, who joined me for a very physical and seemingly very long day of shrub removal that included shoots, roots and every scrap of energy!
The image below therefore, as an action shot, shows a well rooted trunk having its roots loosened. It previously supported a dense evergreen top that once removed left a wonderfully clear and newly illuminated space that in due course will be home to a glasshouse and cold frames – a new engine room from which the garden will grow and develop. It may be some time before construction begins, but I’ll look forward to sharing this in due course.
Now the next image illustrates the contrast in weather that many outdoor workers ‘enjoyed’ this week – the sun was shining and the rain pouring both at the same time. Crazy weather indeed but the atmosphere exhilarating and the light – just too good to resist a snap or three!
My last image record of the week was simply a pile of sticks, but a valuable pile of sticks nonetheless. The first thing to strike my mind on seeing post-storm the twiggy garden debris is usually ‘what a mess’. Yet there’s often a bright side on which to focus. On closer inspection you’ll see that much of the wood is decayed, and as nature-friendly gardeners will know they’re perfect if cleared away to a shady corner of the garden and left to decay slowly in dead wood piles.
Beetles, woodlice, ladybirds, fungi and more will quickly take to these piles and break them down on our behalf, so of all the sticks collected on Monday last, and probably on Monday next too, can all be used to support wildlife in the garden. Every cloud has a silver lining, as people say…
My week summarised included: debris clean up; moving two evergreen shrubs; rose pruning; shrub removal; area surveying; plant sourcing; tool cleaning; and the first proper mowing of the season. Yes, mowing in February!
A physically demanding but hugely enjoyable week with a real feeling of progress but, being another week closer to spring, the pressure to get more done in preparation increases now. Next week looks to again start with brash clean up, followed with more border renovation and more.
I hope your gardening week has been equally rewarding, and not too badly affected by the swirling weather patterns that keep gracing our forecast maps! Regards, Gary