Wednesday, 21 February 2018

winter weeding

I ventured out after lunch to do some weeding.  One advantage of gardening on the light soil of the front garden is that it dries out so rapidly after rain.  I didn't fancy squelching around in the back, because I object to crawling around with wet shins, and I didn't want to compact the borders by treading on them, but the long bed in the front already felt fine to walk on.  The winter flowering cherry is producing another flush of flowers, at least until next week when the Arctic Blast arrives, and the buds on the pink Prunus x blireana are swelling, and it would be nice to see them blossoming and the spring bulbs emerging over a neat blanket of Strulch, instead of amidst a muddle of last year's fennel stalks and tufts of grass.

Looking up the name of the pink cherry on my gardening spreadsheet made me realise how slowly it is growing.  Both were planted in 2011 and are still very much works in progress, whereas a Malus transitoria planted only two years earlier by the end of the wood now looks like a proper small tree.  The soil in that bed is very mere for trees, even with periodic doses of blood, fish, and bone, compost, and Strulch.  Still, they are toddling along, and I don't want them to be huge.  I had a winter flowering cherry before in the back garden, but the water table rose under it and it drowned by degrees, suffering from hideous dieback until I lost patience with it and chopped it down (or probably asked the Systems Administrator to take it down with the chainsaw).  The stump, contrary to my normal practice, is still there because I lacked the energy to dig it out by hand.

Growing in front of the pink cherry are hyacinths, which are showing the tips of their leaves and flowering stems above ground but have prudently slowed down their emergence as the weather turned colder, and a rather nice little pale blue thing with an icy turquoise tinge which I think must be Scilla mischtschenkoana.  It was a toss-up deciding whether it was that or Puschkinia libanotica, which I have also planted in the bed, but the Scilla flowers earlier.  I wish I were better at keeping track of the names of the bulbs scattered around the garden, but it's impossible to label a scatter.  I should need loads of labels, they would look terrible like a demented pets' graveyard, and before long they'd have got kicked over, dug up, or broken.  The Scilla is very pretty and perhaps this year I should buy lots more to make a drift further through the bed.  It is a pity I didn't manage to weed around them before they came out, since now I've dropped earth on the petals.

I was going to prune the buddleias as is traditional in February, but with the freezing forecast for next week I thought I'd better leave it for now.  I don't suppose it would do them any good to have snow blowing down into the cut ends of their hollow stems and freezing there.  I do hope the weather is not going to be as savage as some of the more ghoulish forecasters are predicting.  I don't have as many borderline hardy shrubs as I had going into the two cold winters around 2011, having replaced the lost Pittosporum, Corokia, Leptospermum and Cistus in large part with less tender alternatives, but I could still be looking at some nasty losses if the thermometer really plummets below minus five and stays there, with the added chill of an easterly wind and snow.  Ah well, we shall get what we get.

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