I have just been gently reminded that my last blog was September and wasn’t it about time I put finger to keyboard…..? The intervening three months have not been an inspiring time in the garden and particularly here at Sculpture by the Lakes. By its nature there is a lot of water around plus we are bounded to the south by the River Frome, which for the last four months has been full to overflowing and overflowed it certainly has.
We are relatively lucky in that the meadows across the river from us are much lower than our land but such is the sheer quantity and unrelenting nature of the rain that the river has flooded in through the low-lying woodland on our western fringes. This has poured straight into the Lakes, which subsequently overflow and flood back across our ground to rejoin where the river roughly flows. It’s done this at least twice during December but thank goodness not anywhere near any of our buildings so our feet have stayed dry.
Not so lucky have been some recently planted shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials. Many have literally rotted in the ground with roots sodden and black – it has been a little dispiriting. Still as I write we have had a few days of no rain and the river is receding slowly but surely and the muddy, slippery paths are starting to green up again.
But it’s not been all doom and gloom, we’ve certainly not had much in the way of really cold weather, although some say we need a good cold snap to kill off a few bugs and slugs. Already the willows have started to push out their divinely silky silver buds and the witch hazel is flowering (this one is Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’), however I am now pushing to get the beds tidy and cut back, to move things which need dividing or replacing before things start growing again. The forecast says a possible cold snap towards the end of January but we’ll see.
Yesterday as I was cutting back roses and clematis I came upon this late bloomer.
This is the shrub version of the wonderful Iceberg rose, an excellent performer and non-stop flowerer which it aptly proves here!
Another great favourite of mine at this time of the year is the rather dull looking Sarcococca confusa, but get anywhere within 20 feet of this terrific little shrub and you’ll be assaulted by the most delicious fragrance wafting through the garden. Also known as Christmas or Sweet Box, the tiny little flowers are hardly visible amongst the evergreen foliage but boy do they pack an olfactory punch!
For another sensory delight, the greenhouse is the place to be at the moment, perfect for taking shelter from sudden showers, as the Jasmine is in full flower.
On a warm day I leave the door open to get some air through and this delicious twining climber scents the whole vegetable garden.I bought it as a houseplant many years ago and have potted it on several times but now it’s reached it’s final home as I can only just heave it in and out of the door each spring and autumn.
One of my Christmas presents – till recently this scrambling rose (subjected to hard pruning so not much to see) was clinging rather inelegantly to some wonky bamboo canes but it now has this vastly superior frame to drape itself over.
Check out their website at www.artisanplantsupports.co.uk
Now back to the pruning……