A weekend spent in the garden January 28, 2018 20:16

News from a waterlogged gardenThe sight of blue skies on Saturday morning had me out of zipping bed yesterday, with a spring in my step. With the immortal optimism of Fred Flintstone, I too had a "yabadabadoo" moment and wanted to get stuck in. Hooray!


Well, not quite 'sunshine', but definitely not raining. Which is a vast improvement on a very grey, soggy week. 

Wrapped up in my grubby old 'gardening' coat and welly boots, I headed outside with a cuppa to survey the damage. 

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Not in terms of a 'proper' winter - there have been very few hard frosts to speak of, so far, in our neck of the woods. And not a whiff of snow since before Christmas. But plenty of sleet, rain and high winds. All a bit grim. 

The result is a garden under water. Walking up to the back of the garden is a sloshy undertaking. The bare root willows I planted up there when we moved in are sucking up as much as they can, but they are sleeping, and so won't be hugely thirsty until the first leaves start to appear. They have help to improve things in the last few years, but our recent weather has been testing. The outcome is feast and famine - a garden that cracks and groans under the heat of the summer sun, and a swamp in our mild, grey winter months. Still, the cordons and dwarf apple trees putting up with it all in stoic style. The fruit buds look promising and this weekend, the girls have had their annual haircut - I've given the apple trees a light prune, removing the unwieldy branches that have been turning up on themselves, and the upstarts - looking to usurp the old leader with a new model. Or twelve. It's all been getting a little heated 'up top' on our oldest apple tree. So, the rebels have had a good talking to, and things have quietened down a bit. 

Because the ground is so soggy, I haven't been able to plant the bare root apple and cherry trees. I was hoping to train both as cordons, to disguise more of our v. ugly fence. These have had to be heeled in to the veg patches in the front garden: a temporary home while everything else dries out a little. I'll be honest, it is all looking a bit weird and dishevelled - trees in our teeny, tiny square patch of a front garden; a waterlogged trench around the back; holding out for drier days and the arrival of their fruity inhabitants.

Saracocca Confusa - Sweet box - winter flowering and with berriesWhile the incessant rain has been bad news for some parts of the garden, other areas have prospered. The moss and lichen around the pond has never looked so glossy and healthy. Another happy camper is the celandine, which looks ready to open up for business any day now. I'm trying to embrace it. Celandine are traditionally at home in damp ditches, woodlands and hedgerows. And, as it happens, our flower beds. Once they get hold, it's hard to get rid of them. On the plus side, celandines are a great, early nectar source for queen bumblebees and other, (though not quite as posh) insects. And they do add a splash of colour. They turn up looking like a bit of an upstart, against the slightly aloof, pale hues of saracocca confusa and viburnum. So, for their anti establishment connotations alone, the celandines can stay. In moderation. When they start to get bit boisterous and take over, I have a tendency to oik a few out. Just to keep them in their place. 

All of this has made for a wonderful, grounding weekend. In terms of Denys & Fielding, things are a little crazy -  in full flight, finalising a new range of products for Spring, which we'll be sharing with newsletter subscribers late next week for an early peek. I'll also be packing them all up and heading up to Birmingham for Spring Fair, a big old scary retail trade show in just SEVEN DAYS TIME!! Eek! So, in true distraction theory style, it has seemed entirely appropriate to hide in the garden for the weekend. When it comes to finding a 'legit' distraction, I am an expert. Now, where is my head torch, I'm sure I can do a little more pruning before the weekend is out, and reality really does take hold... 

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