Winter Sun


I love it when it’s cold and sunny. I can tolerate the frostiest weather so long as I have the sun’s rays on my back. Unfortunately I got it all wrong this weekend, wasting two cloudless days on shopping, pottering and socialising, and saving an epic number of gardening jobs for Monday, which was dreary, damp and depressing. Despite the bone-chilling temperature in my garage, I have now managed to plant all of my narcissi (the majority were potted up in September) and two thirds of my tulips. The rest of the bulbs will go in during December, which is perfectly OK based on last year’s results. It has to be OK, as the bulb planting fairy does not venture this far east.

Meanwhile I have been continuing to clear away the yellowing foliage of my hedychiums. I have somehow managed to build my collection to a dozen varieties over the summer. A few have resolutely refused to die back, including H. greenii and H. gardnerianum, so I’ve stashed them in the lightest part of the garage, along with my solitary banana, in the hopes that they will make it through the winter with some green foliage still intact. Without exception the thick, powerful ginger roots have distorted the black plastic pots they are growing in. Next year they will each need potting up into fresh, rich compost to get them through the new growing season.

My Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) are already flowering prolifically, as is Correa ‘Marian’s Marvel’, which started to produce flowers at the end of September. I regret hiding this winter-flowering shrub at the back of a group of pots over the summer, as the stems have become rather lanky, which is useless in my exposed garden. I have tied the willowy branches to canes as best I can, but I dislike the unnatural shape this creates. I’ll give it a jolly good prune in spring, at the end of the long flowering season.

I will save the frustrations I’ve experienced trying to procure and commission a new greenhouse heater for a separate post. You can then marvel/snigger at my ineptitude. Thanks to desperately inadequate instructions (which for once I read owing to the involvement of gas in the equation), and the clueless staff at Wyevale Garden Centre, I have managed to buy the right heater and the right gas, but not the right gas for the type of regulator supplied. It took my dad, 250 miles away in Bath, just 30 minutes work this out on my behalf. It had already taken me a good three hours of swearing, sweating and futile fiddling to work out something was amiss; three hours I’ll never get back. TFG.