Seasons Greetings from Keith and Moira

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Another year draws to a close in the "mud, the slush and  the darkness" (Frank Mansell, a Gloucestershire poet)  that typifies December. In most ways for us it has been a memorable year: 2 special birthdays, our new and much used conservatory, the Jubilee and Olympics, more outings than we have had for a long time, some unforgettable talks particularly Medwyn's Masterclass Weekend, and the best dieramas, kniphofias. and hemerocallis we have ever had.

Dierama pulcherrimum in early July.



A marvellous apricot hemerocallis - cultivar unknown



Set against all the good things, 2012 will go down as one of the most challenging years in my garden life as it has been for nearly everyone that we have met. We gardeners are made of stern stuff however and always look for the positives: in spite of all the bad, unseasonal weather there were a few highlights. A really good autumn show with herbaceous plants in particular dazzling until late October, Waterperry Gardens in mid September with its overwhelming display of asters, and some late but very welcome root vegetables at last!

Freshly harvested celeriac looking like an extra from Doctor Who! A very tasty, versatile and easy alternative to celery. Mooli radish the long thin one much used on the recent BBC2 series Masterchef the Professionals. Fairly hardy for autumn and early winter use, with a nutty slighly peppery radish taste but more subtle than the summer varieties. 


We are looking forward to 2013 and already there are the first signs of early Spring. A few helleborus x hybridus are in flower (no  niger  - "Christmas Roses" yet), emerging spears of snowdrops under deep blankets of leaves, some early cyclamineus hybrid narcissus are just breaking through and there are a couple of Dorset lambs in our neighbours field. If this isn't enough to get the juices flowing the Chiltern Seeds catelogue is just days away and from Sunday onwards the days will start to get longer.

After the Texel ram a couple of months ago some of our better looking neighbours!!- especially the sweetie lamb. (Sorry Ifor!)




An interesting month so far with rain and wind but plenty of cold clear frosty days with some wonderful all day hoar frosts last week, very low temperatures and 7 consecutive nights of frost Min -8C. Daytime temperatures struggling to rise much above freezing. Tingling, great to be alive weather, and ice on the Paddock Pond for the first time this winter

Hoar frost on an umbellifer - it is one of the main reasons why I don't cut back the herbaceous plants until February.



A quick trip to the Cambrian Mountains just 15 miles away on very icy roads!



Garden Update

Maintenance work continues all over the garden, cold frame now rebuilt, pathways raked and rotting retaining boards to be repaired or removed, Vegetable garden tidied, greenhouses and polytunnels cleaned and all overwintering plants cut back. Helleborus x hybridus leaves to be cut back in the next week or so, more important than ever this year with so much blackspot about owing to the wet weather. A nice job to work off Christmas Lunch! The rest of the garden is enjoying its winter rest.


What's looking good?

Not much!! In fact I am struggling to find anything to write about! So I won't!! I guess it is the same in many gardens throughout the UK. I feel that December is the only month where momentarily things stand still and we all have the chance to draw breath.

But then I went into the large tunnel and saw this solitary flower on justicia carnea, a native of Brazil in the depths of winter in Wales!



And this Italian chilli pepper looking just like a Christmas decoration



Wildlife and countryside

An exciting event last week (minus camera!) On my usual nightime rounds I saw a young otter playing in the river at the bottom of the garden. Quite oblivious to the strong LCD light it played in the river for a few minutes before taking off. Too close to the Paddock Pond for comfort I quickly put up the electric fence around it just in case. 

Flocks of chattering,warbling starlings are an everyday occurence in the fields and trees around the Lodge. I love starlings but they are by no means as common here as they were 10 years ago. The patterns they make in the sky are breathtaking and their flying displays even eclipse the Red Arrows! One of the great winter sights of the British countryside.

My pet robin is getting bolder as the days get colder and wherever I am in the garden he is never far away, but get the camera and he's off like a flash. Like the Mallen Streak blackbird I am determined to get their pics one day!

Holly berries are scarce here this year especially after last weeks cold spell, but I managed to find a few berried branches for decoration.


Visits and visitors

Bookings for talks and visits are still coming in so please get in touch if you would like to arrange a visit or talk. For details please see the appropriate page of this website.

 Talks re commence in February with Llandysul Winter Gardening Weekend on 22 - 24 February one of the highlights.


Christmas Quiz result

In last months News I set a challenge to identify which of the pictures  was not taken with my new Nikon camera. The answer is the one showing a range of tender plants providing winter cheer in one of the heated tunnels. Sorry no prizes but well done if you got the right answer. 

Finally may we wish all our supporters, friends in gardening, and past and future visitors to both the garden and the website, all the blessings of the season and a happy, healthy and memorable 2013.