Friday 11th & Friday 18th February – Keep Calm and Carry On

Bad weather over the past two weekends drove us indoors for most of the time, but there were breaks in the rain which allowed for short bursts of outdoor work, and on the day Storm Eunice was supposed to devastate South Wales, I managed a blissful stretch of time outside in weak sunshine with clear skies. The Under-Gardener even found the time to sunbathe.

I don’t actually care for bergenia, but the early foraging bees do, and it’s nice to have a splash of colour so early in the year. I swear these are more floriferous after being mulched with manure.
The Under-Gardener insisted on inspecting these rather sorrowful over-wintered sweet Williams before they were planted out.
Rain stopped play, so I headed indoors to sort out all the herbs that I’d gathered from the garden or foraged and dried, but never gotten around to cleaning and storing. These are mainly for teas, but some will be used to make herbal lotions, oils or tincture.
It’s a bit of a ball-ache, to be honest, but it’s ultimately satisfying. Here I am crumbling the dried thyme leaves off the woody stems, for use in cooking.
Camomile flowers dried for tea (and eventually for hair rinses, too, if I ever get round to making any).
These stripy crocuses are fun, aren’t they? I planted a mixed bag in the autumn and they’ve proven to be a good buy, as the different varieties flower at different times, extending the season.
Here is confirmation, not that I needed it, that I’m right to cut the clematis much earlier than the books advise. New growth coming thick and fast: cutting later would make it hard to avoid damaging this.
The clematis armandii on the pergola is giving thanks for being saved from the chimney pot and planted out into open ground. Some nice whips of new growth can be seen here. Along with bright blue sky – so much for Storm Eunice!

The roses tell the same story as the clematis – an early prune pays dividends. Bit gnarly, this rose, isn’t it? It’ll be ok. Roses are tough.

The Under-Gardener took inspection duties especially seriously during this session. Marauding through the border wasn’t really in the brief.
Never had quite this much going on so early in the year in the long border. If the weather isn’t cold like last year, this Spring could be the best year yet for the display here. I’m excited and full of hope. The Under-Gardener is too, but that’s mostly because he’s seen me take a chicken out of the freezer.
If you look at the two clumps of bronze-coloured grass (carex testacea I think) you can see that it was a little bit blowy out there!
Purple sprouting broccoli seems like a pain in the arse all year – it seems to take ages to do anything, it’s got to be netted all year due to butterflies and pigeons, it looks extremely unhappy at times, it’s bloody hungry and it takes up ridiculous amounts of room, but when Feb/March comes around and it’s time to start harvesting, all is forgiven… it’s delicious and tastes like every bite is full of goodness, especially this time of year when so little else is available to harvest.
Finally I have grown enough of these tiny daffodils to be able to pick some for the table without noticeably diminishing the display outside. The big bright hips of the Generous Gardener rose got missed when I first pruned, so I took them off today but couldn’t bear to bin them.

Published by Notes from the Under-Gardener

Keen amateur gardener, tending a large home garden growing flowers, fruit and veg, ably supported by husband and dog.

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