POT'S GROWING ON? 19/01/24
We’re in the middle of this winter’s second freeze, reaching temperatures of -6C across the week and a blanket of snow. Our off-road farm track is now impassable and we just managed to get our car out to the main road with a helpful push from our neighbour and lots of sliding tires. The next day our water, from a spring, froze and another neighbour brought round a flask of hot water for us. We have the best neighbours. And we’ve all been treated to spectacular sunsets across the arctic scene.
Meanwhile, back in December I dropped my secateurs in the top meadow and despite retracing my steps countless times could not find them. I asked locally if anyone had a metal detector and…
… Ta da! Another neighbour lent me their detector! Within about fifteen minutes of sweeping and beeping…
… Success! With a bit of de-rusting they’ll be fine.
I thought it was worth sharing our garden like this with you because it shows just how cold our plot gets and how harsh it can be. Which tells you how tough the plants we grow are. By understanding the conditions plants can tolerate, it makes our lives much easier and our gardens easier to look colourful in summer.
Down in the main garden a small herd of roe deer have been nibbling the plants, which I don’t mind at all. I’d rather have deer than plants to be honest. I love seeing them. Though I do try and deter them from the allotment where I grow food.
I leave dead stems of perennials and annuals through winter as homes for wildlife, cutting and chucking some stems that have toppled. Leaving all plant material on the ground to decompose (premium subscribers can read all about this technique in the March 2023 premium newsletter). I won’t cut most things back until I feel the weather turn around end of February to early March, the point insects wake up. Though I actually find the wind, rain, ice and snow ends up doing most of the work for me anyway, as you can see in the above photo.
Down the meadow side of the garden I reduced part of the hedge to be able to see the meadow, I’m planning to extend this slightly with the remainder of the privet hedge on that side. If you look carefully in the above photo, it’s the blob of hedge in the middle beneath the sun. Which will open up the view under two old and gnarly-beautiful elder trees.
I love it when it snows and plants are decorated with ice, such as the flowers of witchhazel and…
… even moss growing on the stems of elder and rowan trees. Moss is the greenest thing in winter here.
Walking through the garden yesterday I noticed little stars glinting in the snow as I walked by.
Snowdrops are tough and don’t give two hoots about the cold, their toughened tips pushing through ice and frozen ground without a problem. February is their moment and they don’t want to miss it. Last year I moved hundreds of them from a clump at the top of the garden to spread them all around the place. I’m excited to see them all grow in their new spot in the coming weeks.
The view from my studio toward the garden as the snow arrived.
The pigsty always looks beautiful, no matter the weather with its cotoneaster thatch.
Our polytunnel has a thin layer of snow making it dark while also offering a little extra insulation for the winter salads growing inside.
I remember seeing icicles every winter as a boy but don’t really see them any more, so I was excited to see this tiny one on the polytunnel’s gutter above the frozen water butt.
It’s times like this that are the harshest, living in a remote location, and it is tough with various risks from slipping and being cut off. But with preparation and good people around you, it has moments of magic too.
p.s. are you interested in growing edible mushrooms? If so, take a look at my latest article about growing pink oyster mushrooms without plastic…