Hellebore niger
Hellebore niger

Perversely I like this time of year in the garden.  Every half hour stolen seems like a bonus and a treat.  For a change I have actually done all the jobs I need to do for the winter and so everything I do now is a bonus. The weather is mild, although a little damp, and it is a relief to get outside for a bit of fresh air and exercise.

Saturday saw me finally finishing mulching the front garden with chipped bark.  I didn’t think I would get a chance to do this before the ground froze but somebody was on my side and hopefully the mulch will help with locking in the moisture and keeping the weeds down.

I also removed the leaves from the majority of the hellebores.  I have done this for a few years now but I can’t remember the logic for it any more and I find myself wondering whether indeed it is the best thing to do; something to research.  I was pleased to see emerging buds on all the plants including those I bought earlier this year from Ashwoods but I was especially pleased to see two buds on the Hellebore niger which I have been struggling to establish for a few years.


Although the forecast for the next week indicates that the temperatures aren’t going to drop much lower I decided today to use the time to put a little more protection around my borderline hardy plants.  Last year I covered the crowns of the three Melianthus major with straw and they came through the winter fine, although of course it wasn’t as hard a winter as we had in the two years previously.  As I had some straw left over I have done the same again this year and also protected the Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ which has thrived in the Big Border and the three Watsonias which I am risking in the border as they are just too big for the greenhouse now.

2013_12150030I was reading back through my garden diary last night.  It was satisfying to see that some of the things I planned to do this time last year have been achieved but it was also amusing to see how my son’s woodworking hobby and the need to house it thwarted at least two projects; at one point I think we were on Plan R! On the plus side it meant I had to get on and dig up the lawn which I had been procrastinating about for a while.  I am still thinking about a focus for the Big Border but my instinct is to go Cottage Garden style but with a mid-late summer focus.


The last area that really needs a winter clean-up is the sunny end of the slope.  This area has seen the most upheaval this year due to the workshop going in.  All my Asters from the slope have been shoe-horned, along with other late summer perennials, into a tiny space about a third of the area they were in before.  I really don’t feel that the way I planted them, admittedly in haste, has shown them to their best so I am thinking that I may clear the slope and relocate the plants into the Big Border.  I also need to finish staining the fences and the workshop but we are still waiting for the green wood to dry out completely – the glass in two of the paves has cracked due to the sides of the workshop shifting as it dries.  The work never really ends does it.

Meanwhile in all the border there are signs of bulbs pushing their noses through the soil which makes me feel that Spring really isn’t that far away.