Winding down….

The Larch trees have dropped all their needles but the cones still look lovely against the blue sky on a rare autumn sunny day.

Well, apologies for being awol for so long. December has flown by in a blur of Mummers Play, Norwegian trips, Carol singing and present buying. The gardening is dull and cold but mainly it has been far too soggy to do much. The ground is far too wet to dig and so leaves and tidying are about all I’ve been up too.

Winter usually means there is time to get round to those jobs on the list that you know are important but somehow you never seem to manage in the summer. In a new garden I have started to work in this means getting the climbers out of the trees. There is a huge honeysuckle growing through an apple tree which is covering half of the tree. The Ivy on the black leaved cherry Prunus cerasifera ‘Nigra’ is so established I cannot believe the cherry is still standing.

Just one branch of the poor strangled Cherry

It is amazing how healthy the Cherry is looking but now it has dropped its leaves it is much easier to get into the tree and cut out as much of the ivy as we can. I have cut round the ivy at ground level but I want to try and free the tree further up so the branches can expand as they need too. I haven’t got any more photos but the tree looks much better now with probably another session needed. It was a proper late in the year afternoon though, Up the ladder in the sunshine it was t shirt weather. When I can down in the shade to tidy up it was time for hats, coats and gloves.

Hyacinths for christmas, Did you plants some bulbs to adorn you table this christmas. I hope you remembered to bring them from the cold and dark to a cool, light spot to make sure they will be ready for the big day. Mine stayed in the cold too long, but they will be lovely after christmas. It looks like the Amaryllis will flower sometime around valentines!

Cotoneaster with Symphoricarpos

The above display actually looked better in real life but I wanted to share it with you. At this time of year Cotoneasters are really showing off their berries well. This is ona forgotten bit of ground separating a main road and a housing development. I don’t know if was planned or if they have self seeded as they are both very good at colonising areas but the combination, simple though it is, was a wonderfully festive display, it will provide food for the birds and would provide the bees with lots of nectar in the early summer too. Simple but effective. Often the best way.

Despite being dull and soggy there are things still happening in the garden now and you should still take a break from Christmas chaos and get out and take a peek. Mahonia, Viburnum and Jasmine are all in flower now. Cotoneaster berries, we have mentioned above but don’t forget the Christmas tree is not the only conifer looking good at the moment. Also this is the time for the stems on the dogwoods to shine too.

Seed heads that have been diligently left for the birds and winter interest are starting to have their moment now too and hope can be found on those gloomy days ahead with Peonies and Rhubarb already showing signs of next years life. Make sure you remember to cut the leaves of your Helleborus if you haven’t already so you can enjoy the flowers to their full potential. The buds are starting to emerge it won’t be long.

Before we get on to my trip to Norway, Another positive from everything in the garden dying back and having a tidy round is, finding lost tools. This year I have come across a toy Brachiosaurus, a pair of glasses and this trowel. I am still missing a pair of secateurs I know are in an orchard somewhere but I haven’t found those yet!

The snow cleared from the roads in the centre of town is piled up in the square. Making the statue of a Whaler look very dramatic.

My trip to Norway was a social one as my brother lives and works out there. Tromso, is inside the Arctic Circle and this year they had had the most snow in December for 97 years. Normally it isn’t until after Christmas they have significant snowfall which will last until May. They also have only a few hours of twilight a day with the rest being dark polar night as the sun is so low in the sky it does not rise so from the end of November until end of January. This is a harsh environment for growing plants and even house plants are given artificial light to help them through until the midnight sun arrives and plants will have to cope with a completely different level of upheavel to their growing conditions.

Whilst I was there I swapped my leaf blower for a snow blower. It was good fun for a change but with a whole winter ahead of me I am quite sure the novelty soon wears off.

I have not yet made a summer visit, the snow has more appeal for me, coming from somewhere that gets very little. So I have yet to see the gardens and trees in full bloom. Even in the winter state it was interesting to see the Ash and Rowan, which we are used to seeing as big trees, being grown as Hedges. There is a botanical garden in Tromso which grows many plants we will be familiar with the Genus but maybe not all of the species and varieties that are grown but Perennials such as Ligularia, Rodgersia, Iris Peony, Thalictrum, Filipendula and Aconitum all feature at the botanical gardens . Along with many alipnes we are familiar with such as Gentians and Saxifraga . Primula and Himalayan poppies are also found there.

Plants that may surprise you that can also be found growing in such challenging conditions include herbs such as, Dill, Parsley, Lemon Balm, Sage and Thyme. Other large Shrubs and trees that will tolerate the conditions but are reduced in size include, Lilac, Spirea and Elder. They can even grow a South African Ice plant Delosperma bastuticum.

Anyway, I shall sign off now until the New Year when we can start planning a whole new gardening adventure for 2020. Have a Very Merry Festive Season whatever you choose to do and make sure you take time to pop out to the garde. Check on those pots, dead heading and drainage wise. and take a big wiff of all the wonderful scented plants working hard in the dreadful weather. Fingers crossed for snow and proper cold to set the plants up better for next year. Happy Days in the Garden x

The Reindeer have been fed and so should be ready, willing and able to pull Santa’s sleigh. x

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