And off we go again...
Christmas is behind us and we're already into the first days of January. The seasonal wheel has turned once more and slowly slowly the days are lengthening. It was not possible to garden during that snowy and bitterly cold week just before Christmas, and I'm guessing few of us were thinking of doing so over Christmas period itself. But now it is time to shrug off that gardening inactivity and get cracking out in the garden once more, because the turning of the seasons waits for no-one.
Our first job is to carefully and sensitively deal with any plants that suffered during those frosts. Over the years we have come to the conclusion that many mature plants are actually hardier than you might think, especially if they are planted in free-draining soil like we garden on here at Langdale, and after a bad frost the best thing to do is to leave them to their own devices until you can see if they are going to come back or not, but clearly a little tidying up can be necessary - for example Agapanthus will not thank you for leaving mushy foliage lying around over their crowns.
As many of you will know, when it comes to hardiness we garden with essentially three types of plants here - (1) those that you would consider completely hardy in even the coldest of UK winters, (2) those that are completely tender and will stand no frost at all so they go into a frost-free greenhouse for the winter, and (3) those that we might refer to as borderline hardy in that they will survive some frost, say down to -5C, but it is pretty touch and go if it drops lower than that, but they do have to stay out in the garden all the year round and take their chances. So we are well and truly into touch and go territory now, and for sure we will have losses, but for now we are leaving them be to see what they do and we are keeping our fingers crossed. We always say of ourselves that we garden with borderline hardy plants knowingly, and accept that on occasions we will lose some, but the risks are worth it because in general they are some of the most exciting plants we have in the garden. This year is that "once in a while year" where we get to put our words into practice!
I suppose it is a question of outlook. You can let your day be spoiled by what the frost has done to for example Aloe striatula (picture left), or you can enjoy the many things out there which are just getting on with it such as the newly emerging shoots of the lovely Crocus olivieri 'Orange Monarch' (picture right) one of many bulbs we have planted up in terracotta pots so they can be brought out onto the patio where we can enjoy their bright flowers from the house in just a few short weeks time.
Happy New Year and happy gardening!