WOW!! - Wintry Wales

Sunday, December 5, 2010

After "basking" in  mild and gentle weather for most of November  (OK this is Wales so there was some rain and gales too) the last week of the month turned overnight on 23 November and it's been mighty cold and snowy ever since. It brought an abrupt end to the wonderful late autumn colour in the gardens and surrounding countryside.  Fortunately I had done most of my autumn jobs with just a few clumps of herbaceous plants to dig up but that can be done later. Much of my time now is spent cutting firewood and keeping the 2 woodburners stocked, and my much admired woodpile is going down fast!

It is costing us a fortune for gas and electricity to heat the tunnels and glasshouses but so far there have been no obvious losses although time will tell. I have every length of horticultural fleece I own covering plants under cover - it really does make a difference.



This has been the coldest end to November I can remember - a frost every night from 23 November onwards with a minimum of -16.2C on the evening of Saturday 27 November. The 28 November 1947 was the coldest previous November day I remember - I was only a day old then but a tremendously gifted child for my age! I don't know what has happened to me ever since!!


Garden update

Very quiet now with little time in the day to do much but potter around. I never managed to get the autumn feed on the lawns or to do much spiking. Hey ho! It probably won't matter that much but it would have been nice to have done it. I have my lists and try to stick with them.

All plants except the hardiest are now under cover of some sort and the cuttings I took in September and October are growing away strongly. I at last managed to dry off and store seed from over 60 varieties of plants from the garden. I am particularly pleased with the quantity of lily seed produced from a few seed heads of martagon, pardilinum, pumilum, regale and priceii lilies. A little while to wait between sowing and flowering but well worth the effort. I have some large clumps of lilium martagon album growing away well at the back of the paddock pond in some fairly deep shade and this year they blessed us with the first really good flush of flowers after 5 years. The cost of flowering sized bulbs of this lily if you can get them is fairly astronomic!!

I still find jobs to do in the tunnels and glasshouses on cold or wet days and a few DIY jobs to do when the weather warms up will keep me out of mischief over the next few months . Incredible to think that in about 6 weeks time I will start sowing again for the next gardening year! And in only 3 weeks time the nights will start to get lighter again. I can feel the sap rising already in my veins!


What's looking good?

NOTHING!! The cold weather has put paid to the odd roses, violas, verbenas, sedums and saxifrages that were soldiering on earlier in the month. There were also some good flowers on 2 outdoor cyclamen, intaminatum and mirablie under the shade of the large beech tree by the polytunnels. Not as frequently encountered as hederifolium  or coum but good and reliable additions to the autumn garden.The vegetables to look pretty sick but fortunately I managed to get all the carrots up and stored before the weather turned. If you can think that far ahead, a winter savoy cabbage picked now might just have thawed in the stone shed in time for next weekend's roast! We hate buying veg but have had to resort to this over the last couple of weeks.

I was looking at some old garden records for 2002 and it's incredible to recall that in November of that year I counted over 30 plants still in flower after only 2 mild frosts! How times have changed!!



The owls are still active at night, the kites are everywhere looking for food and woodcock and snipe are regularly put up on walks at dusk along the river. It's usually too dark to identify them positively but I know from their flight and previous encounters that both are active in the area. My best garden pals the robins follow me around the garden looking for a chance snack and the wrens and blue tits think the polytunnels are the best place on earth on a cold winter night. How they get in is a mystery but there they are bright and bushy tailed next moring when I open up the tunnels. Nice to be able to help them through the winter. Plenty of foxes sighted too after dark in the torch or car headlights.


Visitors and talks

On the day of the heavy snow at dusk 2 cars came very slowly up the lane by the house and ground to halt up the hill, one of them unable to go any further. The occupants, 6 young ladies were looking for a holiday complex 10 miles from us but had lost their way. We do have some unusual visits but never one like this. All ended well and we were soon able to get them safely to their destination. Hopefully they will come to see us next year when the weather is kinder and there is more to see in the garden!

The talks season continues with just one in December at Brecon and District Horticultural Society for their Christmas meeting. Hope the weather improves by then for us and for all visitors to this site. Keep warm!!