Monday, 14 February 2011

Spring - a matter of life or death?

Inside the house is as cold as outside because the decorators are stripping the hall, stairs and landing and have flung open windows and doors with gay abandon. The living room (where my computer is) currently has no door at all, so I'm wearing several layers, furry boots and a fleece blanket too - trust me, this is not a good look for a romantic Valentine's Day. Good job Himself's away on business really!

Outside it's cold, grey, miserable and doing the whole rain/sleet/rain/hail/rain thing, so I thought I'd look at the photos I took yesterday during a very brief sunny respite from the rain!

It's been a funny winter so far (funny peculiar, not funny haha!) We had all that snow and intense cold in December, then lots and lots and lots of rain ever since. Several trees got damaged from the sheer weight of the snow, but it's only now that I've been able to see the full extent of the damage to the plants. Good job the wonderful spring life cycle has started up again then - although it didn't feel like it was going to at one point. Everything is a bout a fortnight behind!

Snowdrops on the rockery below the front terrace.

Wet Hellebore ....did I mention it had been raining here?!

Winter jasmine strangling the light at the top of the front steps - it's not a problem, the light doesn't work anyway!

Hellebore Nigra. I split and moved this one last year so I was really glad to see that it had survived under the snow.

The 3 phormiums haven't coped well with winter!
I'd been planning on moving the largest one (the one nearest the house) this spring as it had become way too dominant up there. At least now I only have to dig it up and it's only about a third of its previous size now!
Crocuses are poking their heads through the dead and very soggy remains of the geraniums. I don't know if they'll recover given that they've been frozen, buried, defrosted and drowned!

This is one of the branches that broke off the big fir tree at the side of the house under the weight of the snow. It's about 9" in diameter .........

and has left a big gaping wound in the tree :(
Another smaller branch fell off the same night and the tree surgeons have had to cut 2 more branches off because they were cracked and dangerous, but they reported that the tree remains intrinsically sound, so that's good news even if the tree does look a bit lopsided now.

We lost a chunk of fencing in the gales last week and I'm not convinced that the saplings have survived either - but I don't know what they are anyway, I found them in a border!
I'm planning on grassing most of this soon - once I've sorted the fence out

I don't think the Mexican Mock Orange is going to bounce back somehow - it's only tolerant to -5, rather than -15 and two feet of snow!

No purple sprouting broccolli this year either - and it was doing SO well :(

More tree damage.
These conifers were all weak spindly multi-trunked specimins that I wasn't particularly fond of, but I didn't expect them to collapse under the weight of the snow.

The tree surgeon said they'd had it and wouldn't recover, so all 9 - yep, 9 had to come out
.....mind you, much as I was saddened by their demise I have gained a large chunk of extra vegetable garden - once I've sorted out the manky fence !!!

I'm sure you're all fed up with my tales of the potting shed fire, but guess what survived the inferno?
Yep - the wood!
I'd stored a whole mass of kindling and logs in the back part of the building. It's all covered in soot and the plastic bags have melted, but it didn't burn! The wood was the only thing that the cleaning firm were able to rescue for me. Hope it burns on my wood burning stove!

I obviously didn't clear my new salad bed as well as I'd thought I did last spring given the number of crocuses that are popping up!

New buds on the blackcurrant bushes - lets hope for a monster crop this year :)

The heather bank is just begining to come into flower. Another week of torrential rain and sleet and it'll be perfect! Did I mention how wet it's been here of late?!

May spring be dry and bright where you are - 'cos it's obviously not going to be dry here! :)


Liz said...

Hi Liz,

Strange that you've had such different weather to us. Yesterday was a bit horrible but most days for a good while now we've had some sun at least. Today we had some lovely sun (and my latest blog post proves that!) although it did chuck it down around 4pm for half an hour or so and alternated between black clouds and sun since.

Sorry to hear about all the damage, I think many of us will only be able to see the true extent soon. My garden is well ahead of last year in terms of spring bulbs. My first were only just flowering now! Lots of work to do in the garden for both of us, fixing fences here, too and dividing and moving plants! :D

Hope you have sun soon, and an enjoyable week.

Woody Wilbury said...

Ey-up, Nutty. I think you've had it a bit wetter than us (lower down in Chezzie, that must be it!) but we've both had it windy. The top 3 or 4 panels of my fence, new in last year, now sashay gently to & fro in the breeze. I don't think there's any point trying to do anything about it until the ground hardens up a bit. Bring on sunshine!

And think of all those extra veggies you can grow.

Lindalou said...


So nice that you came by my blog for a visit and left such a nice comment. I love getting new visitors.

Sounds like your winter really hit your garden hard. We are still in the midst of our winter here in Michigan. Piles and piles of snow still.

How odd is it that the wood didn't burn in the fire. Strange.

I'm following you and I hope you'll do the same for me. (I've been stuck on 53 followers for so long, I'm beginning to think it's broken.)

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

You have had some weird weather. I hope most of your garden survived. The Mexican orange still looks green, maybe it'll pull through. We were supposed to have a snowy winter, but it's been mostly wet, wet and more wet. I'm looking forward to some warm dry days too.

Pondside said...

I spent last Tuesday picking up, cutting and burning all the windfall from before Christmas. A friend came in to cut up the larger trees and limbs for stove lengths for next winter - so much work! No snow drops here yet, but I'll have to go around and have a look at my witch hazel - it should be doing something!

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

Everything is a matter of life :)

Green Lane Allotments said...

You seem to have the same plants as we do. Our large phormium that was also getting a bit big for its allotted space is looking sorry but maybe not dead yet but our choisya - which I think is Mexican orange blossom is still very healthy. My sister has a baby yellow leaved one that was newly planted last year which still looks Ok too. WE have had very low temperatures so maybe ours are in less exposed positions.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Liz. Guess what?'s raining again - and I've just spotted another broken branch only this one is one a horse chesnut at the bottom of the drive! :(

Ey up Woody. I'd rather have nice dry snow than the soggy murk we've had here for what seems like weeks...does me old bones no good!
I think I'll plant spuds in the new bit - they'll break up the tree roots, hope fully.
If your ground is as soggy as ours, don't try fixing your fence yet - you'll sink!

Ruth said...

Oh the cruel weather of England. I sent you an email mum.


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Lindalou and thanks for following me- I've done the same for you and moved you off 53!!!

I'd love more snow. I hate being cold, but I can cope when it's very cold and dry when the snow is down. It's this damp English winter where it sits around zero and rains a lot that my body objects too!
I think the wood escaped because it was mainly protected by a dividing wall from when the building was used as an air raid shelter for 2 families. The flames stayed in the front part but the heat and smoke got everywhere!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Catherine - it has been a very strange winter so far and I'm not building my hopes up too much about an early spring because I know that with the vagracies of the British weather it can still snow in late April!
Hope it dries up for you soon :)

Hi Pondside - it's all go isn't it!
I'm hoping for a bit of dry weather tomorrow so I can do some clearing up. My witch hazel is in full bloom now and smells divine.....I'm fancying getting a Chinese Witch hazel this year as it's a sort of deep blackcurranty purple over winter - sounds glorious!

Nutty Gnome said...

Bhavesh, you are so right - as usual!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi GLA - you may be right about the Mock Orange. We're quite high up and it's planted right where the westerly winds can get it. IF it survives I'll move it to a kinder position!

Hi Ruth - well you know what I'm like when it's cold and wet love! Send me somewhere warm, dry and sunny for a week or two please! :)

Andrea said...

Nutty Gnome, i've not been here for awhile, and just read what happened, i'm sorry about the fire. But certainly it was so wonderful for IG to have sent you lots to start again. Your growths are starting to show their beauty, that in a little time you will be amused and forget what happened. Happy planting and happy spring.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Andrea, nice to see you again. The fire was a pain, but IG was wonderful for sending me all those seeds - now all I need is for the insurance company to pay up so that I can buy propagators, seed trays, plant pots......!

It's actually dry and a bit sunny here today so I might, just might, get an hour or two in the garden this afternoon!

Happy spring to you too :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

We have had three inches of rain so far this February and I agree everything is looking very sad. Still I am sure it will all catch up. We seem to be getting one fine day and one damp day alternately over here in North Yorkshire.

Heather said...

You've certainly taken a bashing this winter but the snowdrops, hellebores and heathers look lovely. Take heart - the evenings are getting lighter and spring will get here soon. Thanks for leaving that nice comment on my blog.

Leenie said...

N.G. Thanks for stopping by. You're right about diving in tropical waters being a whole different experience from dark cold lakes and rivers. DH and I are certified open water divers and visiting places like the Caribbean, which is so bright and colorful, makes it worth the trip and the trouble.

Love your blog. I'm a gardener too. I'll be back.

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Great variety of pics, thanks for sharing. My sojourn into the garden this weekend is now postponed AGAIN because of the forecast delivered today on the BBC :( I love winter, but roll on spring.

Fotografia Digital said...

Very wonderful images!!!

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Wow, it looks like a real winter kill there in the garden. We went through that a few years ago, it's sad, and hard to see such an amount of dead plants. But maybe some will perk up in the spring.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Cheryl said...

The weather has been just as bad in the south this year. Like you we had snow all through December and now my garden is sodden. More like bog.....

I think we will all have a lot of damage. I am almost to frighten to think about what has to come out.
I planted three phormium 'apricot queen' last year. They did really well, but during the cold snap (I live in a frost pocket), they look really awful.
Would you be so kind to let me know what to do with them. Do I just cut off all the dead leaves and keep my fingers crossed??

Casa Mariposa said...

The shed burns but not the wood? Bizarre but funny! Have you thought of turning the bare area by the saplings into a garden? So much more fun than grass!

Britta said...

Dear Liz,
quite a lot of losses you had this winter, I'm sorry to hear. Though I know you are making the best of it (as you say: loss of the conifers = gain of a vegetable bed). I met an old Japanese man (really, not in books!) and he told me what we all know (but seldom do voluntarily): "You have to throw out some things to make way for new ones." Well, and sometimes nature does it itself - though I don't rejoice on that sometimes...

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Weaver - it's VERY cold and wet here again at the moment so no chance of getting out into the garden that is rapidly becoming boglike! :(
Hope it's better for you up there?!

Hi Heather, nice to meet you :)
It is nice that the days are getting longer but I wish it'd either snow again - and be cold but dry, or warm up! I really can't be doing with the cold damp conditions we've got at the moment!

Hi Leenie - oooh, diving somewhere warm (or just being somewhere warm!) really appeals right now!
Glad you liked the blog and looking forward to seeing you again!

Nutty Gnome said...

Greetings Rare Lesser Spotted and thank you for popping in and for following me! The weather has stopped me from going in the garden as it's peeing it down - AGAIN! I'm so fed up of this cold,wet, murky weather ...give me snow or sun, but not this rain!! I'm with you on wanting spring to happen now.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Fotographia Digital - thank you so much. I've been looking at the bird photos on your blog and they are awesome!!!
Hope to see you again soon :)

Hi Jen - I was hoping they'd perk up too, but they're getting a double wammy at the moment as they're now being drowned by all the rain so I'm not holding out too much hopes for some of the plants, sadly! :(

Hi Cheryl, so Kent is boggy too then?!It's been a tough winter all over the UK this year - I'm so ready for spring now!

Re the phormiums....if it ever stopps raining I'm going to try to lift the fronds and take the snow weight creases out to see if that'll help them spring back then I'm going to leave them alone until April and the warmer weather. If they still look dead when I rootle round their bases then, then they'll have to come out but if I see new shoots at that point I'll cut back the most dead fronds and leave them to get on with it! Hope that helps :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Casa Mariposa. I made that area into a border last year, but it didn't really work for a variety of reasons. I'm making the border smaller and more curved, but I want grass around the base of the oak tree so that the tree stands out more - and because it's a lovely place to sit and lean against the tree watching the sunset!
There also a very large border just to the south (house-side) of it that is about 18ftx16ft that I'm working on, so there's plenty of colour and foliage around it :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Britta - wise words and so true! I just find it sad when things die ....mind you, some borders needed sprucing up anyway as my gardening techniques and ideas have changed since I forst made them, so good will come of it all!

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Have you had rain over there Liz?

Big shame about the purple sprouting brocoli. One of my favourites yet for some reason not popular here. In fact nigh on impossible to find.

We've had a mild run this Feb. Plenty of 15 degree days but equally plenty of frost at night. I think you're getting mild weather in the next day or two. Roll on spring.

Carolynn said...

That sounds horrible. I hate being cold, but not being able to get away from it would be awful. Hope you get some respite soon - maybe a few nights at a spa hotel is in order...?

I'll bet your plants are going to be a riot of colour soon, with all the watering they're getting.

Heather at Dusty Bay said...

Spring should be here soon enough - I'm just waiting to get busy out in the gardens, so much to look forward too!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob - yep, it's been a bit damp!
I was really miffed about the purple sprouting - and I saw some in the shops yesterday. It was EXTORTIONATE! So much of the crop has been damaged by the heavy winter and the price has rocketed as a result! :(

I managed to get a day and half in the garden, but it's back to rain again now - I'm well ready for spring!

Hi Carolynn. It's been hard work having the decorators in because doing the hall,stairs and landing affects everywhere! Still, the dirty work is done now and they're onto the nice bits - another week should see it done!
A few days at a spa sounds like a wonderful's not going to happen, sadly, but it's a wonderful idea!


Hi Nutty - I am so sorry I have not been visiting for a while (sadly I've hardly visited anyone due to the usual time constraints) but am so glad I came over today. Very sorry to hear about the potting shed incident - that is awful. How incredibly upsetting for you. I love the pictures in the snow - it looks like you had more than us - but, like you, since December it has been nothing but grey, windy and rainy. So depressing. I took my phormiums inside after it was too late - I'm not sure they will ever be up to much again. The two cordylines I bought last year to replace the ones lost in the winter before have also bitten the dust and been hoiked out! I give up on them now. Will have to find something hardier.

Funnily enough, we have a similar fir (Scott's pine?) of similar size to yours i.e very big, which lost a large limb in a storm about 5 years ago now. So, like yours, it is all lopsided! Interesting about your fir hedge - on the gardening course I've been doing they said that hedges (especially leylandii, lonicera etc) should have the snow knocked off them or the weight will split the branches...
Still, I think it's good news that you've got more room and light for your veg garden.

Now, I may be wrong, and I can't bear the idea that I may be pouring cold water on your blackcurrants, as it were - but when I zoomed in on your photograph, I just wondered if they are not suffering from Big Bud Mite? I would not have heard of this were it not for the course I have been doing - but some of the buds look very large, round and pea-shaped, rather than more rugby-ball shaped as they should be. It may not be the case in real life - the photo may have distorted them in some way - but here's a link in case you want to check it out and have a closer look at your plants.

I LOVE your heather border. Despite many attempts, I cannot seem to get heather established here, although I'm sure I should be able to - the moors are full of it, after all!!

Here's to some drier weather coming our way soon!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi HOTH - my goodness, but I think you might be right about the Big Bud Mite! :(
I looked it up on the site you recommended and I've just been up to check on my blackcurrant bushes. There are LOADS of round buds - one one plant in particular, but also on the others. I suspect they'll ALL have to be dug up and burned as the website recommends :(

Mind you,it also suggests planting new bushes in a different place and it just so happens that I have the perfect spot on the other side of the garden where the conifers were!!!

Thanks EVER so much for spotting that - I'm indebted to your eyesight! :) x

TYRA said...

hi liz and thank you for stopping by. I'm so sorry to hear about your potting shed. That an annoyance, who and why? I hope the insurance company is at you help. All that extra work, not very funny at all. I'm delighted to see that spring has sprung in UK...there is hope after all. I think this winter has been too long and too cold. I still have a lot of snow in my garden but we are in March the first month of spring, sing Halleluja!



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Hi Nutty - just popped back to see if I was right about the blackcurrants. Am so sorry but glad you've got another spot for new bushes. If you take cuttings from the healthy stems you should be able to propagate them easily enough. I have created two new bushes that way by digging up an old one and putting in fresh cuttings from a bush at college. I wrote a post about it just a few weeks back if you want to know how to do it (you may already know, of course :-)). I went up to check on them the other day and they seem to be doing OK, but I'll keep you posted! Fun, though.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Tyra. Thanks for popping in - good to see you again.The insurance company is being very good so far and things are happening - I'll actually end up with a better building by the time we've finished, it's just a bit of a slog getting there!

I can't wait to get some sun on my face and in my bones - sing Halleluja for spring indeed!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Ron. Welcome to my blog and thank you for following me. I'll be over to read your blog shortly.
Have a great weekend :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi HOTH. Thanks for popping back :)
I read your post about propagating blackcurrant bushes as I didn't know how to do it 'cos I'm making it all up as I go along! I don't think I've got any healthy unaffected stems out of the 8 bushes :(

I did buy 2 really healthy looking blackcurrant bushes from the really good plant stall on Chezzie market this morning for a fiver apiece (after a bit of bartering!), so at least I can get them planted and hope for some berries this year. I would have bought more, but couldn't carry them with all the other stuff I'd got local and all that!

Glad your bushes are doing well though.
Have good weekend and thanks for all your help :)

Year Round Vegetable Gardener said...

What lovely photos - it's so nice to see that spring is beginning somewhere!! :)

The heather bed is spectacular and i just love your snowdrops.. thanks for the breath of spring air on this cold day!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Niki. It's taken a while to get here and we do seem to be alternating lovely spring days with cold, icy, wet, grey wintery days at the moment, but spring is definitely happening here!

I'm glad you like the photos - my photography continues to improve all the time since I've been doing the blog. I think it's seeing so many other far better photographers at work and pinching their ideas!

Hope spring comes to you soon :)