Last week I referred to hedge work that I’d hoped to complete on my Tuesday work day, but all hedges on my arrival carried a pretty (if challenging) topping of snow. Some clearing up of cut material was possible in the snow shadow of the dense yew hedges but this was only a minimum, and so hedge work was paused until Friday whilst I took, among other tasks to giving a wayward willow arch a lockdown haircut – after some snow clearing of footpaths.
I also took the opportunity to research some of the orchard fruit so that I’m better prepared when their pruning days come around. This involved checking the listed heritage varieties against written information in my trusted apple bible, as well as some online work to fill in knowledge gaps.
There are some fascinating stories connected with the discovery and breeding of some of the heritage varieties, and hopefully I’ll get to write more about that in the very near future when I start working my way through the orchard trees – but for the moment my focus is on the type of trees I have to deal with, so that I can start to build a knowledge bank for this small but perfectly formed orchard at Sulgrave Manor.
Friday’s workday came around all too soon and finally I was able to hit the hedges and move them closer to completion. An hour of trimming was needed to finish the tops but it was soon on to the task of clearing up whilst squelching around the edge of the orchard. The sunshine broke through perfectly though and but for the odd pause to grab some pictures, I tried hard to make hay while the sun shone and was perfectly placed at the top of my ladders to chat to folks walking by whilst on their exercise walks.
I shall leave the hedge chatter there for now, as whilst I managed to complete trimming and top-clearing on Friday, I’ve yet to complete the ground clearing which will be waiting for me on my return – and whilst I’m doing that I’ll be dreamily looking upwards across the orchard to the fruit trees and their much needed pruning.
Flower wise, whilst daffodils continue to push their pointed leaves up to the light, I can’t leave this post without mention of the snowdrops and winter aconites, many of which are at their winter peak just now. Tight to the ground they’re built to withstand the worst of the weather, and as a case in point they’ve been through the full works this week alone with snow, warm sun and copious amounts of rain – and there’s barely a mark on their cheery faces.
I was admiring both snowdrops and aconites at Charlecote Park earlier today, growing as they were beyond the line of the distinctive paling deer fence and in the safety of the churchyard. Naturalised in swathes amongst tussocky grass, they offered a welcome shot of colour after the relative blandness of the grazed parkland sward with piles of decaying timber; themselves offering an altogether different level of interest.
Briefly looking forward to the first week of February and beyond, and in addition to the orchard work, I shall be delving into the seed order required to get the Tudor Veg’ garden underway, and to finalising a list of annual flowers that will need to be sown soon. Having said that, the glasshouses are already full with overwintering and young plants, and I know a degree of sorting and creativity will be required to squeeze it all in – but an exciting challenge for sure, and a promise of some more sessions sifting through supplier images of dazzling summer plants – just what the doctor ordered!
At this point I think I’ll leave this week’s journal there, as my concentration is waning and being overcome by the sounds of a groaning Wookiee crying out from Star Wars V playing in the room – it’s incredible I’ve got this far to be honest!
Until next time then, thanks for dropping by and getting to the end of another Gardening Ways Journal entry. I hope you’re well and looking forward to ploughing through the last and very short month of winter! Best wishes, Gary