First Frost

The first hard frost has intensified the autumn colours and the Liquidamber ‘Worplesdon’ is spectacular today.

The dahlias are blackened and will be mush by tomorrow. The climbing fuchsia ‘Lady Boothby’ is now five years old and going strong, shrugging off the cold and continuing to flower well.


Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ has berried up well and is attracting the pigeons which balance precariously on the slender branches to gorge themselves.

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What Sort of Winter Do You Call This?!

086                                                                                                                                          Well, here we are on 21 December, the first day of Winter and the shortest day of the year. Cathy is wrapping up the last few prezzies and I have been outside washing down the paths and tidying up. The weather has been unseasonably mild and I have actually been looking for jobs to do outside rather than sitting indoors. The weather pundits are predicting a long hard winter which will delay Spring and confuse the heck out of the garden again. But, already the bulbs think it is February! The weather guys might be right though because I have never seen the trees and shrubs so laden with fruit and berries, a sure sign of a hard winter to come…..or so the old wives tale goes.Sorbus hupehensis

The little Rowan tree, Sorbus hupehensis, is bent double under the weight of it’s luscious pinky white berries and the Blackbirds are perching precariously on the spindly young branches to get at them.

Sloes

The Blackthorn tree, Prunus spinosa, is covered in ribbons of juicy sloes, so heavy that the branches are likely to snap. Already, the road beneath is stained blue with the remains of squashed fruit and I am amazed the foragers and gin-makers have not discovered it.

Wormery

The wormery, which is normally asleep by now is still active and busily taking all our tea bags and veggie peelings to turn into next years ‘special’ addition to potting compost for the very best plants. It can’t last….something has to change soon to send the worms burying for cover deep in the lower trays.036

Even the fish still think it’s summer and expect to be fed twice a day! Get down and go to sleep I say! The pump is off and the food is packed away until next year!003

In fact everything is cleaned up, tidied up and packed away. The cold frame is empty and ready for a bit of essential maintenance to the lid, the cheap plastic ‘overflow’ greenhouse is full of pots and trays..all washed and cleaned. Where is the snow? I’m ready!Leaf composter

The compost bins are full to bursting with leaves and herbaceous shreddings and, apart from a few last minute weeding jobs, the autumn clean-up seem to be finished for a change.006

All the tulips are planted and the only thing remaining to go in the ground is a tray of Cyclamen hederifolium purchased, believe it or not, from our enterprising milkman who buys them in from Pershore College. Two pints of semi-skimmed and a tray of Cyclamen please!

I hope you all have a jolly good Christmas and a wonderful and productive New Year.

Snow!

Garrya elliptica catkins in the snow

Garrya elliptica catkins in the snow

After 3 bitterly cold days, it warmed slightly and the snow arrived. Not much, 10cm or so, but enough to keep us indoors. Most low lying shrubs and emerging bulbs are now sleeping under a warm blanket but tall shrubs like the Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ look even more stunning when the long catkins are covered in snow.

Eranthis hyemale, the Winter aconite

Eranthis hyemale, the Winter aconite

These little aconites are reliable early winter stalwarts, emerging before everything else and gradually spreading to all parts of the garden. I must have disturbed them during the renovation because they are appearing in the strangest places. I think this one must have been in the root ball of the primula I transplanted last year.

The woodland path!

The woodland path!

Just outside our bungalow, the one you can see in the distance in this photo, there is a lovely woodland path which winds it’s way up the hill on to Charlton Kings Common and then into the old stone quarry and beyond. Most of the year it is an enjoyable, dry and interesting walk but in recent winters, and particularly this one, it has turned into a stream bringing flood water and debris down from the hill and depositing it on to the road. More worrying is the fact that the first storm drain it reaches is the one outside our drive, 200 metres from the end of the path. By the time it reaches that, it is more of a raging torrent than a stream. So far it has not caused any significant damage but ……….. we’ll see!

Echinacea seed heads stripped by the birds

Echinacea seed heads stripped by the birds

I only saw the finches a couple of times but it seems they made a meal of the  Echinacea purpurea seed heads I left in the front border. We also had some strong winds which must have blown more away to be eaten by the Wrens, Dunnocks and Pied Wagtails which are always scratching around looking for stray seeds. Who knows, some may even germinate and give me some free plants.

Frost

Frosted Echinacea

This image is not one of mine but I thought it was nice to end this piece. I guess this must have been taken in a place which suffers very early frost because all my Echinaceas lost their petals weeks before our first cold snap in October. It reminds me of crystallised fruit dusted with icing sugar!