Colder winter days...

Help! May has suddenly disappeared and it's June. That means colder winter days, frosts on the ground, and thermal underwear on the gardener.

 I like to gather these for the log fire.
pine cone in the sun

Saturday 2nd June

Where did May go? June is much more seriously a winter month. This week we've had some good frosts (which will hopefully kill off any lurking bugs who are trying to winter over in my plants). I've only spent a few hours outside today, poking around planting daffodils. I tried to weed, but parts of the ground were a little frozen. I am worrying about the cannas, too, and I need an action plan which does not involve molly-coddling or digging anything up.

I have also collected pine cones and have cleared more of the Hump. Now I'm inside, and the log burner is warming me up. It's dark by 5.30, and it's difficult to garden before 9am. So much to do... so little daylight!

Tomorrow I promise to be better and finish planting the daffodils. Then I will allow myself to go to the bulb farm (which has a 25% off sale sign out) as a reward.

Sunday 3rd June

It's 8am and I'm ready to do some serious gardening, but it's still a little cold out there. Gardening conditions have definitely taken a quantum leap towards winter, and I might have to wait until the morning sun strikes the Stables seat. To fill in time I will make a thoughtful and serious list, which follows.

Thoughtful and Serious List

Time to put on tramping fleece and new thermals and get serious!

200 daffodils, 3 trailer loads, 1 fire and 300 gorse and broom seedlings later...

The sun is grazing the tops of the Hump trees, and I am about to go apres gardening in navy blue. I'm tired and feeling a little unenthusiastic. Must be winter.

 A carpet of gold in the grass.
flowering cherries losing their leaves

Monday 4th June

Today is an official holiday!!! It's the coldest morning so far this month, and I'm about to clear some more rubbish from the Hump and have a fire.

I've read some more gardening articles which talk about 'gazing balls'. They are Victorian. I'm tempted to be cynical, but something stops me. I spend a lot of gardening time gazing at things, like the water running by, or favourite stones, or sometimes just grass. I sit inside in chairs by the windows and gaze out at the winter borders. I might try and find a suitable river stone. Back soon.


The Hump is clearer, but not completely finished. Nothing to report as regards gazing balls. I think I am more a casual gazer. I have planted half of the remaining daffodils on the fence-line. This is becoming quite a mission, as I now realise just how long our front fence is. Humph...

Saturday 9th June

Crunching frosts all week, but the weather is so much milder this morning (it's warm, shirtsleeves rolled up, definitely no thermals required). As soon as I've checked in and said happy birthday to younger son I might wander outside with my camera. It is now two weeks until the shortest day, and the garden has slowed down. I love the shapes and lines that are only seen in winter, and the flaxes which glow in their beds.

 This is one of my 'small' red flaxes...
flax in winter border by patio


It's time for action. I have under 200 daffodils left to get in the ground, then I am allowed to visit the bulb farm sale. I have a glass-house in disarray. Wonder if any cuttings have rooted? I have leaves to rake and plans to make...

Hee! Hee! I am allowed to visit the bulb farm WITHOUT finishing planting the other daffodils. Gardens should be expressions of freedom, unshackled by rules and regulations. Unless, of course, the rule is a fire ban.

Later, apres gardening...

I've worked hard until fading light, and have finished the fence-line planting. I've started clearing and planting the new bulbs in the 'Oak Grove'. It's quite hard to call this area by this impressive name - oak groves in their initial planting states are totally unimpressive, with new trees like bare stalks hardly big enough to see. Anyway I took some photos, and hopefully I can enthuse over developments in 3 year's time. I feel silly taking photos of nothing, but my imagination will be rewarded.

Sunday 10th June

How silly is our weather? Yesterday it was 21 degrees. Now today a southerly has struck and we are huddled inside (with 7 degrees outside). I have not yet done any gardening today, but I have been reading a great new book - Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden.

Beth Chatto Book :
This is one of the best garden books I've read. I'm certainly going to read it again and again.

She writes very descriptively, AND she uses the correct names, AND she knows so much about the plants she grows. She is often given new plants to try out by her friends head gardeners. Hmm...

I don't think I'm envious. One of my friends has a gardener. There is subtle domestic sabotage - her husband keeps sending the gardener home, saying he isn't needed that day. And my friend doesn't talk about her garden plans and dreams any more. She now has a guilt-free garden. I couldn't cope with that.

Saturday 16th June

Have I ever boasted that I garden every weekend of the year? I lied! Today I am house-bound, more from gloomy mood than by the weather (which is rainy and grey, but not too cold). I have chosen to wallow in a grump, after planning a dream visit to a summer garden somewhere nice (with someone unknown paying for the airline tickets). I have even been garden surfing the you-know-what, an activity not usually allowed to be mentioned in this diary (this may seem quite strange, considering the relationship this diary has with the you-know-what).

 Berberis and small red flax.
burning bushes


This is just not good enough. I am off to the glass-house to increase my Echeveria collection and to peer at my seeds and cuttings. I will walk past the flaming red berberis and the flaxes with tongues of pink-gold fire. I will be reignited.

Humph... I had no potting mix. Took a photo of the burning bushes.

Sunday 17th June

Off in the frost and winter morning gloom to get potting mix. I will report back this afternoon, proudly, with lots of garden accomplishments accomplished. Hmm...

And I can! Ha! Kicking the gloom of high winter's backside, I have spent 3 hours in my garden happily pottering. I've potted up scrophularia and penstemon and geranium cuttings, sorted out the Echeverias AND the pansy seedlings. I've weeded, laid more stones and laid more mulch in the borders by Duck Lawn. I want to stay home from work, to continue the momentum.

There was a gazing ball near the potting mix, too. It was gross - bright blue and completely unspiritual. Just before sundown we went to the river to wash the dog, and I hunted around for large spherical river stones (if I am destined to have a gazing ball it will be found here).

 The water looks very cold.
looking down the water race

Saturday 23rd June

It's past the shortest day! At 8.30 this morning I put on my gumboots and marched outside resolutely. Brrr... Marched straight back inside after one circuit. I've decided to pretend I'm on holiday by cooking myself a typical English 'Bed and Breakfast' feast. I will sit in the breakfast chairs with my new Beth Chatto book and think about England.

Eventually went back out at 10.30 am - it seems so late to be starting garden work, but at least the sun is up. I am doing some major shifting in Middle Border. This was originally designed to be a shrubbery, and while the rhododendrons were new I filled it up with clumps of perennials. It's time to get back to the original plan. I still don't know exactly how large the rhododendrons will become, but I remind myself that none came with labels. Any roses which were planted here in a moment of consumer embarrassment will be banished.

Later, Apres Gardening in Forest Green...

I weeded until I couldn't see any more. I am a winter gardening legend, but the end of Middle Path worries me, and I have tentatively asked Stephen about an archway (he showed an alarming lack of interest). The existing path seems to tip you out onto the grass, and is annoyingly direct.

Black Mondo Grass :
I do like Black Mondo Grass - I don't mean to be rude about it!

Winter gardens are quite brutal. There is no fluff, froth or foliage to distract the eye, and bargain bin gardeners are exposed as design frauds. They sit gloomily on formless seats, squinting at the mess and imagining a whole paddock of black mondo grass, or a large colony of agaves, or a grand sculptured dry river bed edged with 1000 stylish grasses...

Thursday 28th June

In exactly 16 hours time I will be on holiday (for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!). I will be totally organised, and will make every moment count. When I am not in the garden I will be happily reading garden books in a chair by a window.

Friday Night...

I am on holiday. Tomorrow morning I will get up at 6.45 (transformed into a serious gardener) and make a long list of mellow and interesting things to do. I am already wearing my favourite green gardening shirt, and I've got a new gardening magazine to peep at. Hmmm... There are lots of things to do... like build some steps to lead from the Plank to the grass beyond...

I love my garden.

Saturday 30th June

It's 9.45 and still there is heavy frost outside, though the winter sun is shining through the trees. I've been for a crunching walk with the dog, read the new gardening magazine, and am off for a holiday visit to the garden centre to buy some new secateurs. I feel so lucky to be able to live here, surrounded by fields and trees and garden borders. The bridges are icy, and even the weeds have the look of delicate lacework. Hmm... The poetry of frost.