POT'S GROWING ON? 12/01/24
I love this time of year, especially for tip toeing through planting areas to see what shoots and seedlings are starting to turn up. Everything is still and quiet, but at my feet there is growth and it is special. Tip toeing is admittedly a little tricky in wellies.
The above scene might give some traditional gardeners the heebie jeebies because they feel out of control but to me it’s about watching a plant community mature and take on a life of its own. The very feeling of it going out of control is where the excitement is. If we choose our plants correctly, they should be able to outcompete the other plants that want to muscle in.
If I get a bit closer, I can start to see some real wonders. In the above photo you can see the tip of an allium and the young rosette of a self sown Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ informing me this plant is on its way to naturalising in our garden. Its parent was about a metre to the right, I had no hand in planting this one. Next to it sit various mosses and an expanding clump of London Pride, Saxifraga x urbium which was a tiny single piece I tugged off and plonked in this spot from the other side of the garden at this time last year. London Pride is a plant I used to think I didn’t like because of its leathery leaves. When we moved here I noticed how well it suppressed other growth, guarding its spot, and fell for its airy little flowers in early summer. I can see another allium emerging through it too. The Digitalis will not be affected by the London Pride, which will simply slowly grow around it.
In autumn I very roughly divided up a pink flowering Pulmonaria that was also already growing in our garden. Stuffing little pieces of roots all around, I’m happy to see they are all not only growing, this one is about to flower. And although it’s surrounded by creeping buttercup, I know it will outcompete these in time.
Last year I sowed the seeds of a variety of different Cephalaria species and planted out the seedlings. I’m delighted by how strongly they are all growing through winter, as you can see with the central rosette of the above picture.
Over the coming month or two, I’ll continue my winter patrol, studying the ground to understand which plants are multiplying and which have bulked up, with more growing shoots than the previous year. Excited with each new discovery or the return of a friend. In the above photo you might be able to spot the first miniature daffodils starting to flower, the shoots of snowdrops I moved from other parts of the garden last year, shoots of geranium and other plants.
I’m not worried about the unwanted couchgrass, creeping buttercup and excessive ox-eye daisy seedlings. The other plants will grow vigorously in spring, outcompeting them for sun and slowly the plant community in this spot will establish. I might pull out a few ox-eye daisy seedlings here and there.
It’s amazing how much grows in winter, nothing stops, it’s all growing in a different, smaller way - I find it almost more interesting than the abundance of summer.
What can you spot growing in your garden this week?
p.s. why not take a look back at what I was doing this time last year in the premium issue from January 2023…