February 2018: End of Month View

DSC_0169

Looking down on the Rose Walk and Knot Garden

Can this really be the first day of March, with my garden looking like this? As we struggle on in the winter cold brought about by cold Artic weather pushed further south (while the Artic itself experiences record highs), you do ponder climate change a fair bit.

DSC_0176 (2)

Looking down on the Vine Terrace pergola, with the Iris Terrace below

The temperatures during the past week have not been as icy as the prolonged cold spell last winter (down to minus 15-20 degrees C in Dec/Jan 2016/2017) – we’ve only hit about minus 10 this year! But, for goodness sake, it’s the beginning of March. What do I do with this white stuff when I’m supposed to be digging borders?

DSC_0167 (2)

Straight down on the Iris Terrace and vegetable garden

We’ve had months of rain (everyone tells me that during their time in this part of France the winters have become wetter, the summers hotter – my least favourite combination) and then, at the end of February when the sun finally came out, we walked, eyes wide open, into this icy blast.

Along the wet February path there were, of course, snowdrops, aconites and the start of the hellebores. Which reminds me, do your Galanthus ‘Sam Arnott’ take a year off? I seem to remember this phenomenon in the past. Last year was great, this year I have one flower. Sad, since he’s my favourite.

DSC_0129 (2)

Aconites

DSC_0125 (2)

Euphorbia rigida

DSC_0153 (2)

Semi-double hellebores which the bees DO like!

But there’s good, too, in the midst of this cold. I’ve really been enjoying (obsessing, almost), over the effect my new greenhouse has made with my dogwoods, planted for winter colour.

DSC_0150 (2)

The hazels in the Long Border have now all been chopped back, so a very different feel here …

DSC_0120 (2)

And next year there will be a decent mulch, thanks to my new compost bins!

DSC_0118 (2)

And this is the first year I’ve really been able to appreciate my knot garden as it was meant to be viewed: from the house above in winter. Virtually all of the box have been grown from cuttings taken elsewhere in the garden – I can’t experience the pain of box blight or box tree moth and the financial loss as well! It would be too much misery, so I prefer to make my own, and slowly. Also experimenting with yew hedging.

DSC_0181 (2)

The young plants were direct-stuck in the pattern I wanted over a 3-year period (there were some, although not huge, losses). I’ve done this in either June or September, and have noticed a better ‘take’ with the September cuttings (we have warm, long autumns, generally). I don’t fiddle with them – just trim the base neatly, remove the bottom leaves and push them in. (Confession: even dispensed with the tidying process last time – we’ll see in the spring).

I have now completed the entire pattern, although the smallest, youngest lines in the pattern are not really visible in the pictures you are looking at. I’ve also planted my three Ilex aquifolium ‘Aureo-marginata’ into the Knot Garden – they are supposed to be clipped into spirals. Will I live to see the mature specimens? We gardeners are an undaunted breed, aren’t we?

DSC_0175

This will be the second year I’ve indulged in a rare financial fling – a tulip bedding scheme in the knot garden. Last year I didn’t plant quite enough bulbs. This year I’ve doubled quantities. I chose 100 ‘Blue Heron’ (fringed, mauvey-blue – I’ve admired it for a while, but never tried it), 100 Cistula (a very pale yellow), and 100 Paul Scherer (a very beautiful dark purple, which looks to be a fuller flower than ‘Queen of the Night’). My plan has always been to bed out new tulips, try colour combinations, in this area (‘play’, in other words!) and then to lift the bulbs and replant them elsewhere (even wild areas) in the autumn. The plan’s a bit pricey! Maybe only 50% more would have been enough to do the job.

DSC_0172

Dahlia tubers, gladioli corms and seeds, have been pouring through the front door (whenever the delivery men make an effort to get here on the designated day). That’s because I’m starting to panic about the end of May and beginning of June. We are opening the garden to the public for the first time under the Jardins Ouverts scheme and I sure am nervous! Have a look/click on the link above. Even if you are not coming to my part of France in 2018, there’s bound to be a garden in your chosen area that pleases.

There is SO much to do in SUCH a short period of time and at the moment I’ve no husband-help in the garden. (Although he does plan to come back and make carrot cake for visitors.)

When we get into the beginning of April I will not only be cutting the grass once a week on my own, but also doing all the sowing, planting, etc.

DSC_0119 (2)

There’s an awful lot of pruning to be done in the next few weeks

And I am still bound and determined that my new orchard borders will be half-dug (I’m a past-master at digging new borders in June – there’s always too much to do earlier!)

Here the borders will definitely have to be completed by about mid-April, because it gets too hot and new plants in new borders need too much water in the summer months. (Autumn planting is not terribly successful on our heavy clay, what with wet winters.)

DSC_0174

Goodness – I am both excited and REALLY stressed just thinking about what I’ve got to do! Then I think about all the glorious colours of dahlias, gladiolus and tulip I’ve bought and I go back to the nicer kind of dreaming.

Have a wonderful March, and I’ll hope to catch up with you at some time in the midst of it all.

DSC_0166 (2)

 

 

12 thoughts on “February 2018: End of Month View

  1. Paula CLEMENTS

    Excellent report, yes the weather is crazy! Wonderful pictures. Good luck for the open garden.

    Reply
  2. susurrus

    Nothing highlights the structure of a garden better than a covering of snow. It’s looking beautiful – you’ll be back in it sooner than you can imagine.

    Reply
  3. Eliza Waters

    I know the timing is not ideal, but the garden sure looks pretty under a blanket of snow.
    The climate is crazy everywhere, which one would think would wake everyone up to do something about it, but all goes on BAU. Sooner or later, the piper must be paid… meanwhile it is accruing interest!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I know Eliza – I guess sometimes we like to pretend these are just meteorological ‘phases’! We’re in denial!

      Reply
  4. bittster

    Wonderful that you’re opening the garden. It’s amazing how far and how quickly it’s come along but I don’t envy all the work you’ve set ahead of yourself. I’m sure it will work out in the end, your garden is always beautiful, even in the snow!

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh how kind that you dropped by Frank, I’m such an inconsistent blogger. As to the work, yes, I’m feeling rather humbled by my plans tonight. Need to pop over and see your garden soon!

      Reply
  5. Anna

    I enjoyed your latest update Cathy. Fingers crossed that we’ve seen the back of this inconsiderate cold spell. The dogwoods are positively glowing and I look forward to seeing your tulip spectacular soon. Thanks for the Jardins Ouverts link. We will be visiting France at some point in the year so I will check it before we go 🙂

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      I’m so slow in replying/blogging Anna – but you are kind to take the time to visit. I do hope you enjoy your stay in France and see some good gardens. As a good gardener you deserve the best!

      Reply
  6. janesmudgeegarden

    Hello Cathy, I’ve just discovered your blog and would like to follow your progress in your wonderful garden which shows its bones so well in the snow. I’m in Australia and we have climate problems too… not enough rain, for one thing.

    Reply
    1. Cathy Post author

      Lovely that you stopped by Jane. I will be over to see how you cope with your lack of rain. Here it it is just endless this year (although this is not normal!) Take care and hope to visit you soon.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s