Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gardening in January


I don't think I can ever remember being able to work in my garden in January before but the last week has been almost springlike in my part of the country and I haven't been able to resist the temptation. Of course when I say working in my garden I really mean that I've started clearing the debris from last year. Normally I would be able to garden well into December but the snow and freezing temperatures put paid to that last year. There are plenty of signs of life around already the most noticeable being the lovely yellow stars of the winter jasmine.


There are all kinds of gardens, people have rose gardens, herb gardens, Japanese gardens and so on. In my case I have a particularly fine example of a dead stick garden.


In many areas the dead sticks are greatly enhanced by the artistically arranged heaps of dead leaves!


The piece de resistance - a magnificent white plastic football takes pride of place in this border:)


Removing dead leaves revealed crocus' pushing through even though the earth was still frozen earlier in the week. The new green leaves of the cowslips are appearing too.


I decided to begin by giving the woodland area at the bottom of the garden a much needed sorting out, it hasn't been touched for two or three years and was badly in need of attention. There were what appeared to be three or four little groups of snowdrops poking their noses above all the dead leaves by the beech hedge. As I raked and cleared it turned out to be a positive swathe of them which will be lovely in a few weeks. You can see how deep the leaves were as many of the snowdrops spears are yellow from the lack of light, hopefully they will turn green now. There are some daffodils in here as well and it's also where my comfrey grows though there are few signs of it at the moment.


The snowberries are especially ambitious if left to their own devices for too long and the long whippy branches bend over and root in the surrounding soil. I have raked and pruned and filled bag after bag with offerings to go to the local rubbish dump. I have filled my own capacious leaf container to the brim and the local council composts all the green waste so I don't feel too guilty about. Yet another jewel lay under all the mess, a plant I'd forgotten was there - the beautiful bud of the winter flowering cyclamen coum. I shall pay a visit to a local nursery and buy some more of these to add a little glowing colour to the winter days. I've so enjoyed being outside and hopefully shall get a few more hours in before the forecast 'light snow' appears on Thursday. It will give me a head start on spring which will be especially useful this year as I'll be in South Africa in early March.


Special thanks go to my little companion and helper who has been cheering me on enthusiastically as I revealed more and more nice soft earth full of fat, juicy worms:)

25 comments:

Janet said...

How wonderful for you! I'm sure you enjoyed spending time in your garden and getting a jump-start on spring. We are having some beautiful weather, too and I expect to begin seeing some budding trees in a couple of weeks. I had a good laugh over your dead stick garden....that's the kind I'm good at!

Piecefulafternoon said...

It is mild here too - but I've not gone out to clear anything out of the yard yet - soon I think.

Love the little friend bird. Great photo.

Wanda..... said...

You have me yearning to clear debris from my yard and garden, Rowan...but it's all covered with snow at the moment. Our first signs of spring don't appear until March.

ChrisJ said...

Oh, spring is definitely on its way. Please be sure to post the snowdrops when they are in full bloom. I love them and they don't grow here. The perky robin is such a joy. Again , our robins are so different -- more like a thrush with a red breast. Thanks for the breath of fresh air.

Valerianna said...

Goodness, I can;t even IMAGINE spring right now! With feet and feet of snow and going down to -20 (-28 C) degrees tonight.... with a wind chill of -34c! But lovely to see things pushing up through your ground. I think it will be many months yet until that happens here....

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- it must be like spring if you have a bird AND sprouts! Nary a sign of either here -- we still have lots of winter here. You made me laugh with your stick and leaf garden -- I'll bet your garden is gorgeous in the spring!

Hildred and Charles said...

I too have a garden of sticks, adorned with golden straw we used as a mulch to protect the tender plants in the place of the snow that hasn't come this year. Sunny days are conducive to poking around and finding the odd green leaf, or a nub of Hellebore just starting to poke through the thawing earth - nice promises of spring.

Diane said...

What a great way to spend an hour or too Rowan. I keep feeling that we are being lured into a false sense of security though. xxxx

Rosie said...

Hasn't it been a good week for the garden? Like you I have been clearing up last year's debris. How lucky you are to have snowdrops I'd love to be able to grow them but they just don't like our soil.

Granny Sue said...

You give us hope that yes indeed Spring will come. What is the vine flowering on the fence in the first photo, Rowan?

laoi gaul~williams /I\ said...

lovely!
swampy has been clearing the front garden and found lots of green pushing up through the earth under thier blanket of oak leaves~it really cheered us up.
the back has been too wet to walk on so thats a mess right now...however we did find out why flynt came in so muddy one night...two holes dug in cody's bed and our silver birch sapling pulle dout :O
the birch is back in and doing well.

Mac n' Janet said...

Lucky you, time in the garden is always the best time. Other than moving pine straw to look for bulbs coming up I haven't done anything yet, I'm definitely a fair weather gardener. Your little companion is too sweet.

Tea with Willow said...

What a lovely post! Cheered me up no end to think that someone else has a "dead stick" & general debris garden!! Yes, can't wait to get out there and start on all those clearing jobs that got put back because of the snow & ice!

Willow x

WOL said...

What would help my garden (such as it is) more than anything right now is to hook the hoses up and water them. It has been dry as a bone for almost 2 months now, and if I don't water, I won't have any irises to speak of. I have drip hoses in all my beds. I really need to get out and clear away all the debris and deadfall from the neighbors' trees and leaves, etc., but it's not going to happen until Feb. What a lovely crop of dead sticks you have -- lol! Mine leave a lot to be desired, alas. .

Rowan said...

Granny Sue, the plant on the fence in the first photo is winter jasmine (jasminum nudiflorum). Usually it's a mass of flowers in January but the extreme cold during December upset it and it isn't as good as usual. Still a nice splash of colour though.v

Jane said...

Gorgeous pics. I am in Alberta and drowning in the fluffy white stuff (the city crews were just in - finally - and now our snow piles are bordering on 8 feet high in some spots!) Soon enough though, we'll all be complaining that it's too hot :)

The Summer Porch said...

Oh be still my heart! That's what your garden looks like now? Well would you like some white fluffy stuff and -30 weather please???
I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your gardens as the spring approaches. For now, I'm out to shovel a pathway for my mailgirl she gets all bent out of shape if she has to walk knee deep to my mailbox.:))))

Have a great week,

Rosemary...X

Jean Reid said...

I enjoyed reading your post and looking at the photographs.In about two or three weeks, I am hoping to go to Hodsock Priory to see their snowdrops...I cannot wait and I will be taking my camera!

Mary said...

Of course you know we are all ready to rush over to your neck of the woods (as they say in these southern parts!), join in celebrating the Springlike weather, and help dig in your garden!

Lovely Rowan - snowdrops will be welcomed here too.

SouthernHeart said...

Loved this post of a promise of Spring. I enjoy days spent like this...

Blessings,
Dianne
www.mysouthernheart.com

The Early Birder said...

It has been far too wet in my garden but I have just started on a similar task of clearing up rubbish and leaves etc. Surprising what gems of delight are hidden away just waiting to provide us with some late winter colour.

Dog Trot Farm said...

How lovely for you to see first hand the promise of Spring. To think there is a Jasmine that flowers in the middle of January in England no less, sounds unusual to me. The only thing growing in my neck of the woods are icicles! Thinking of you from the snowy State of Maine.

Purple Flowers said...

You have me dreaming of my daffodil, tulip and crocus bulbs all snug well below the snow.
You are very fortunate at this time of year to be able to clean-up the garden abit and come so close to the Spring earth.
Thank you for commenting on my blog.

rel said...

Rowan,
A nice spring break to ease the winter doldrums is always welcome.
My garden, however, is still sleeping under a foot of snow.
rel

Carolyn said...

It is hard not to get a wee bit envious of being able to work in the garden already and those welcome signs of life!

Carolyn