Journal 21.2.21

It’s journal time for me and as I think through my week in the garden, I have to say that winter does seem to be fading away. Temperatures have risen, frozen solid ground has turned to the consistent dampness we’re more accustomed to and most importantly – there are green shoots most everywhere I look.

I speak though with a touch of hesitation, for whilst I’ve enjoyed twelve degrees of February warmth whilst walking and working this week, I really know that from a gardening perspective there’s a long way yet to go – at least I hope there is, as I have much winter work yet to do!

Rosemary flowering on regardless with its delicate violet flowers amidst aromatic foliage
Rosemary flowering on regardless

Traditionally though I often do tend to shy away from the vigour that emerging plants show, from the swelling buds on trees and the flowers that revel in winter light. Don’t misunderstand me, I do love to tune into the colour and vibrancy that occurs just now, but in the same breath I sense, almost mourn, the loss of a season which offers a more subtle kind of beauty – equalling that of any other season to my mind.

Garden Journal 28.12.19

Welcome! Join me here regularly to catch up on my gardening endeavours through this #GardeningWays Journal. I spend much of my time gardening professionally for Rachel de Thame at Broadwell, in Gloucestershire, and my journal picks up on progress there plus other horticultural highlights that might pop up during my week.

I use the #SixonSaturday meme that continues to blossom on social media, as a way to channel my gardening week images and writing, and the text below aims simply to give a little more background for each of the images I’ve chosen.

A Monday sunrise, garden archaeology, orchard mulching, composting, hedge trimming and a book for Christmas

This particular Christmas week, in summary would have to fall into two distinct halves, prompted largely by Christmas Day falling right in the middle! Mixed weather continues to be the norm but it threw a couple of wonderful sunrises and sunsets our way, which combined with the odd hanging mist made for a beautifully atmospheric working week, and one where a few tasks were ticked off the list.

In the image below the sun seemed slow to rise, indeed I think it waited on purpose until I could get in and sorted. This picture taken looking through one of the southern doorways to the walled garden.

Sunrise over Broadwell
Sunrise Over Broadwell

On Monday morning, it felt as though I was bailing out of the usual Christmas preparations as I headed to Broadwell to start the working week. In all honesty, I was happy to be avoiding the last minute shopping mayhem I was hearing about on the radio – if indeed it happened at all?!

In this short firethorn hedge image below, I’ve finally given in and taken to giving it a light trim. It has been teasing me over the last few weeks and I just haven’t made time to get give it a cut, every time I walked past it was saying “You know I need a trim, just do it already!”

For my tardiness, it left me with a tip of a thorn in my thumb for the rest of the day…

Hedge trimming a thorny bush
Trimming the thorny bush..

I’m guessing the useful berries had already been picked off by birds, for there were but a handful left on the whole hedge. You’ll have to take my word that the finished hedge was somewhat tidier…

The next image shows what was a brief step into the world of garden archaeology, I guess, carried out simply to learn more about the garden paths that I hoped would be just below the surface. This shallow scrape is on the inside of a walled garden that has been left fallow for some time. I felt lucky to have found a simple, cambered gravel path surface, although no flagstones or smart edging as dreamt of! More of this to come in due course…

A touch of garden archaeology
A touch of garden archaeology.

Well, in connection with my previous image of digging in the walled garden, I just had to select the following image of a perfect Christmas gift from my good lady MrsRuthieWebb – who thought I might need a little more guidance on Walled Gardens…

Thus far I have only scanned its rich gallery of images, and I’m sure this will keep me entertained and informed over the coming year at the very least – especially the list of restored walled gardens that are open to visitors!

Walled Gardens by Jules Hudson, National Trust Books
Walled Gardens by Jules Hudson.

The next photo simplifies a physical but very rewarding task – that of managing the compost heaps; the energy source for any productive garden. On clearing out the time-served bins, I found that cardboard had been layered too thickly in places causing dry areas beneath, and the general weight of each stack had also compressed lower layers to the point where the composting process had broken down somewhat.

Worms found on a piece of cardboard in the compost heap
Compost corner.

I have therefore gradually emptied each of the four bins, and reworked each. We now have one bin that is ‘open for business’, along with three very full, freshly stacked bins of layered material that include: grass, some older compost, twiggy sticks, shredded, rain-soaked cardboard, and lots of worms. We also have a gardener whose arms and shoulders are glad now to be enjoying a long weekend rest!

Lastly, an image taken part way through a mulching exercise in the orchard. The tangled mass of grass has previously been tightly strimmed to bring back in hand, with the cuttings freshly removed away to the compost heaps.

Ideally I’d have cut beds around each tree, but we’re unsure how this area is to develop so for now, a thick mulch will suffice, to be reviewed in spring. The mulch was finally raked to a rough level, and is now left to the worms and frost to take care of the rest. Pruning will be undertaken over the coming weeks.

Composting trees in the orchard
Orchard composting.

Well there we have it, a journal entry I didn’t expect to post in this odd week between Christmas and New Year. But still, even in the midst of winter there’s lots happening in the garden that I can recall – the generally subdued images hide a wealth of colour and infinite detail that continues to keep the garden a fascinating and engaging place – I do hope you’re able to get out and visit an open park or garden over the Christmas break.

Bye for now, and all the very best for the coming New Year! Gary

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