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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Garden news - early February

PSB!! Far more exciting than the early flowers appearing in the garden, are the florets appearing on this Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It's an early variety called 'Rudolph' so hopefully with the other varieties I've grown we should be eating PSB nicely spread out over the next few months. I'm really looking forward to it.

PSB 'Rudolph'

Flowers are appearing in the garden now, although overall it still looks very wintery. I've made a start on clearing back all the dead stems and stalks in the beds but have a long way to go. It's a busy time in the garden yet the weather is against us still, with rarely a day without rain at some point, and often rather evil winds. I've decided that the veg patch digging can wait as it's more important to do pruning and general clearing up elsewhere, especially now the bulbs, shoots and early flowers are emerging. 

Helleborus orientalis. This kind flowers high up on the stem but
I have other hellebores which have flowers appearing from ground level,
which are only just opening now, and which I think are Helleborus niger.

I love Snowdrops - I have little clumps of them in various parts of
the garden and they herald the start of the long growing season.

You have to look hard to see these tiny
Pulmonaria flowers at the moment

Pale pink Primroses (Primula vulgaris).
Most wild Primroses are yellow but I find
a few pinky coloured ones here and there.

I always seem to miss that point when the upright shoot of a Euphorbia suddenly points downwards and you realise there is a flower bud in there, slowly unfurling as the stem slowly rightens itself. I'm sure it happens overnight!

Unknown Euphorbia. Background bottom right is E. myrsinitis
and top right is another self seeded and possibly crossed red stemmed
variety. There's an article on my Euphorbias here.

There have been a few sunny afternoons so we have had to make the most of it as the sun is still in very short supply. My OH has even managed to mow some of our lawns which is a first for so early in the year, but the mild weather has meant that the grass has grown! I certainly need green stuff to layer in my compost bins as I have a good bucketful of straw and poop every day from cleaning out the ducks and chickens.

The ducks across the pond with a view across the field to the copse in the distance.
I don't know what the crop is in the field; I assume a green manure of some sort,
but at least it is nice and bright and better to look at than a stubble field!

My spindly Buddleia beside the lake, with blue sky and cloud reflections in the water

A Great Tit in one of our cherry trees. Look, blue sky!

One of the thankless tasks needing doing, which I will never get on top of, is hacking back all the brambles that threaten to take over. I also cut back the ivy at the base of trees in the woodland area, but it's a tough job and again, like the brambles, ivy grows too quickly so I can never keep up with it. I can't do this job much later than February because I find birds' nests hidden in amongst the ivy low down in the forks of the multi-trunked elms, and I don't want to disturb them. So I'll keep the brambles at bay around the woodland pathways and every year I choose a few areas to clear completely (only to have it looking like this again a few years later!).

There's a little patch of beech saplings in the woodland under the canopy of willows and hazels beside the lake. There are no beech trees in our immediate neighbourhood, so these must have been deposited by a bird which had flown some way before having a poop here! I love the way the leaves stay on the trees through the winter, adding a touch of copper colour to the winter landscape. They are very slow growing so whilst originally I wondered if I should replant one of them and where I could place it, given their mature size, right now I think I will leave the worry to future owners of Chateau Moorhen! My view is to leave them be and if necessary, keep one but leave it in situ as they seem happy here, despite the shaded position.

Right in the centre of the picture are some young beech saplings

Beech leaves

The chicken runs are mostly just soggy bare earth right now so I let them out to play and eat some grass.... here they are all standing around having a preen.

Say cheese! Nope.

Andrea - the only photogenic hen - or rather,
the only one who doesnt look evil, dopey or miserable!

I like the pattern of her feathers here.
She has been moulting so I'm hoping she will hurry up
and start laying again soon!

Here's Snowy with her feathers all fluffed up looking rather large!

I know that spring has not yet sprung, and with a bitter north wind currently blowing to remind us that it is about mid winter now (if we go by the official seasons with winter not starting until the 3rd week of December), but all these signs of life, new growth and flowers emerging means for us gardeners, the new season is well on the way. 

Happy gardening, everyone! :-)


  1. You are way ahead of us - my Euphorbia look very miserable. I'm intrigued by this thing called blue sky too - is there a filter for that on your camera. I've not seen it in a while ;)

    1. Your hellebores were ahead of mine in January, Sarah! We haven't had that much blue sky but more in the last 10 days than in the previous 2 months I think. Horrible biting north wind right now though and very soggy. But the mild weather (at times) has brought everything along. No blue filter on my camera and I promise I didn't do it with any software! :-)

  2. You had me at your name - I remember finding some old Milly Molly Mandy books as a child in my grandparents' house - such a time that was, and long ago, so I wanted to pop by. Lovely to see snowdrops and other similarly nostalgic things for me (in the UK) - now in California - quite a bit different! I keep wanting to have hellebores and don't get any. Maybe they are for my imaginary garden only!

    1. Hi Country Mouse - thanks for visiting. I loved the MMM books too and have one now as a friend found it and bought it for me, which was fun to reread all these decades later! Yes I imagine California is quite different indeed after the UK. I will come over and have a look at your blog and say hello. I wonder if hellebores grow in your climate... that I have no idea!

  3. We have wee snowdrops . . . and patchy snow. I actually find the photographs hard to believe. They're not from last year are they?

    You're literally months ahead of us. Mind you Edinburgh is three weeks ahead normally and it's only 20 miles away.

    Nice reflection on the water.

    1. Hi Nick - Just looked back at last year's pics and the hellebore was flowering in January then, but we didn't have a frost until later in January so I still had geraniums outside flowering. That was an odd winter. If you have snowdrops then we are not months ahead! It's still relatively mild but oh so wet and muddy and just plain horrible right now.

  4. I know the breed of Snowy, it is easy : Sussex !