We are just two weeks out from the biggest turning point of the gardening year – the shortest day. Perhaps it is a delusion of mine, but once we get to the 22nd December it feels like the worst is over and the only way is up! This time of year can be challenging; cold, dark, wet and at times completely frantic. There is little time for the garden when we perhaps would benefit most from it. Challenging too to write a garden diary when it almost feels like the garden has gone into hibernation. Nevertheless I have just about managed to come up with six things this week as part of the propagators regular ‘Six on Saturday’ global communal diary…
1) Christmas presents
I have nearly packed away all of the dry dahlia tubers in the shed. To be honest I should have done this some time ago but with a bit of luck they will avoid any major cold or wet damage until the spring. Like a belated Christmas present they will be wrapped in boxes and hidden away not to be opened until March.
Another present that won’t be ready until after Christmas the forced hyacinths are only just now coming in to bud. Thats ok though as it will be nice to have something floral to look forward to in January in February after all the Christmas hoo-ha and before the rest of the garden wakes up.
Earlier in the summer I found some old willow stems and completely forgot about them until recently. The idea is to bend them into wreaths but first they will need to soak for a few days in the bath to make them pliable. I think I will try and make a garland with whatever I can find in the garden (holly, ivy, pine cones) and wrap this around them. Apparently dipping leaves in beeswax keeps them from withering when they are hung as decorations.
4) Beech hedging
Last year I excavated a dead hedge that was grown along the top of a wall in the front garden. Over the years it had become a scaffold for a collosal sinking mound of ivy. I replaced it with some bare root beech hedging last winter but it didn’t do well. Like all bad gardeners I blame my plants – in this case I think the whips had dried out too much between field and garden. After mulling it over I decided to lift out the weaker / dead looking ones and replace them with healthier specimens. As I expected, some were dead and others had very poor root systems. Some of them I will heal in to the veggie patch and if they come into leaf I will keep as ‘back ups’ next year but the replacement hedging (which was all sourced locally) already looks a lot more sturdy.
Perhaps a slight sing of desperation on my part to include a houseplant, but at this time of the year you have to appreciate all the flowers you can get! Like this long flowering streptocarpus, grown from a leaf cutting at the start of the year and flowering on and off right up until Christmas.
6) Definitely the last bulbs……probably.
From chilli seeds in January to the last handful of bulbs in December there is always something that can you can find to put in the ground, a pot or a tray, 365 days a year. I am fairly sure these will be the last few bulbs to find a space in the garden – a couple of packs of tulips, some crocus and a few alliums. Unless I happen to see one or two forlorn packs in the bargain bin the next time I am passing…..
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