Checking for signs of life

I know it’s still January and we can expect plenty of winter yet, but after a hectic week of catching up my work I just had to get out in the garden.

I have spent a week in the UK and chose the week when snow had brought the country to a standstill. France had plenty of snow as well but we English like to make more fuss. After driving uneventfully across France it came as a shock when I arrived off the ferry at Portsmouth. They had decided to leave all the snow and ice on the ground and it took nearly two hours to get the few cars and lorries which had made the journey unloaded. Portsmouth town roads were not much better so I had little choice but to stay the night.


Fuchsia flowering in Newquay on the day of Win Elliott's funeral 9th January 2010

The next day I had a beautiful journey crossing the New Forest, Dorset Downs, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor before reaching my destination in Cornwall. My trip was a challenging one for other reasons. In addition to seeing a new client for garden design, I was here to assist my Father following the death of my 103 year old Grandmother at the end of the year. Walking with him in the freezing wind after the funeral we saw a few plants valiantly defying the arctic weather with a show of out-of- season flowers. She liked her plants did Win Elliott and I brought a few of them back to Chabris.

On my return there were clients to see, telephone and email, Garden Design Academy students to catch up with and a huge To Do list to work through. I’m slowly getting there…..

Fiddling about in the garden for an hour or so today was a well earned rest after the last few weeks of organised chaos. There is little happening but it was good to wander about anyway. Daffs are pushing up and nothing stops the weeds, but I was determined to lift and divide one of our clumps of Miscanthus. This was one of the plants brought out from the UK before we moved and put in the ground anywhere I could find a clean space. It is close to a lovely variegated Acer campestre which showed signs of scorch last summer. There are a number of possible reasons for this, but I thought that if I planted it on the other side of the Field Maple, the shade might help it.

I have cut the clump in two and replanted them close to a Daphne mezereum which I had thought was dead. A quick check revealed green under the bark so there is some hope it has survived. Last year, seeing signs of its ill-health, I sowed dozens of its seeds around it in the hope that if it died, it would live on in the seedlings.

Daphne mezereum

Planting and a bit of weeding done, I spent a little time looking to see what had suffered or thrived during the cold snap. Mediterranean plants are generally doing well, with variegated Sage, Rosemary, Artemisia (rooted from cuttings taken this autumn), Olive, Cistus,  Phlomis fruticosa and purpurea and many others all looking fine.

I have quite a few South African bulbs and herbaceous plants and while several of these are looking a mess I am sure most will pull through. Granny’s Crocosmia looks healthy enough but her Eucomis in the unheated conservatory is less so.

No doubt we will lose a few plants and there is still February to get through, but my spell in the garden was encouraging and raised the spirits of all concerned.

4 thoughts on “Checking for signs of life

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  2. Your website looks really good. Being a blog writer myself, I really appreciate the time you took in writing this article.

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