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January 2017

Looking back to May last year was the first sign of the summer to follow. Most of the month was dry and warm for the time of year. Plants were forward in their growth, pears, plum and damson blossom well out in the first week of the month so we were keeping our fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be a late sharp frost. However, May progressed with no sign of frost, foliage romped into growth, hanging baskets went out early and we had to start watering the potted plants every evening. The daff tops were all cut off by the end of the month, and all the beds had been weeded and forked over at least once.

June was mainly wet windy and cool, holding back some of the plants – notably our Alliums – but others, including the roses that ramble up the oak tree, were flowering well. Everything seemed to have benefitted from the early warmth in May, followed by the rainfall in June, and the amount of foliage growth was amazing……inevitably to be followed in the autumn by more pruning back than usual!

At the end of the month the garden was shortlisted as a finalist and then judged for the Kent Life Magazine Amateur garden of the Year Competition which we had been persuaded to enter, the judges were Roger Platt (garden designer and Chelsea Gold Medallist), Sarah Sturt (Editor, Kent Life Magazine), Andy Garland (Radio Kent) and Leigh Clapp (Photographer)

Our 2 Open Garden days were at the end of June and beginning of July. Both days were fine and warm which encouraged a good number of visitors to come and see our garden and the other gardens that opened with us. Over £900 was raised for charity on each day, and much cake was baked and enjoyed.

Throughout July and August the garden flourished and flowered, produced a good crop of plums and damsons and we have been kept busy weeding, mowing, deadheading etc. It was enjoyed by visiting private groups as well as ourselves. Weather-wise it was mainly dry, a few showery days and generally warm, a few brief hot spells but no long heatwave.

The Award ceremony for the previously mentioned competition was in September, and held at Broadview gardens, Hadlow College. We were delighted when it was announced that we were runners up to a very worthy winner – ‘Thatched Cottage’ at Hever. The prize was a Coolings garden Centre token and a framed and signed personalised certificate, and we all went home with a ‘goodie bag’! It was an enjoyable afternoon which included a delicious afternoon tea.

September continued dry sunny and warm, meaning we had a lot of watering to do as all the pots, baskets and troughs by then had heavy foliage and flowers to support. Our small potted fig tree gave us a good crop this year.

Come October, while we still having warm days, the nights began to cool. Whilst there was still plenty of colour in the garden, much of the foliage was getting untidy and needed cutting back – the autumn tidy up had begun! We picked a very good crop of apples and pears - the apples, both cooking and eating, were particularly large this year – and delicious! We realised towards the end of the month that our big pink flowered Camellia in the lower garden had decided to come to the end of its life – we think it was suffering from a lack of water due to the dry summer. It was a bit sad as it had come from our previous garden 15 years ago. Never mind, one plant loss is another planting opportunity. Actually, it gave us the chance to thoroughly dig over, clear out, and improve the soil in the part of the bed where it had been growing. We have now planted another camellia to take its place.

November also continued to be fairly dry for the time of year, enabling us to get on with putting the garden to bed for the winter, which was largely then finished by the end of the month. The tree ferns were wrapped up a bit early as frosty nights were forecast end Nov/beginning Dec.

At the beginning of December, the lawn had its last mow of the year but we continued to rake up leaves – needless to say after all the early foliage growth we now have a full leaf mould bin. There were so many leaves that we ended up having to fill our council brown bins as well! We had a very good clearing session in the front garden, giving the Rhododendrons a good pruning (there won’t be many flowers on them in 2017) removed the old Euphorbia’s and tidied up the ground cover on one side. On the other side, the maple and other shrubs were pruned and again the ground cover tidied up.

And so, here we are, in January 2017. We have just cleared part of the pebbled bed below the terrace as work will begin at the beginning of February on building a new boundary – a low wall with brick piers between which there will be ‘hit and miss’ fencing. The existing fence was damaged in high winds in the autumn and needed replacing, so we are taking the opportunity to do a bit of re- designing. The terrace will be extended to the boundary, the slope down to the lawn replaced with steps and a new small sitting area created on the cleared part of the pebbled bed. The old sleeper edging of the pebbled bed will be replaced by bricks.

Boundes End Blog 2015-16

I see I haven’t written any blog for 2015... so have decided not to look back too much, looking forward seems a much better idea!

2015 continued in much the same vein as previous years, the challenges and vagaries of the weather, new plants to replace plants that died…..or just new plants to create more variety.

Our Open Day went very well, with 3 other local gardens opening with us for the Hospice in the Weald. We didn’t open for the NGS although we had some group visits for them in July and August. We also had an art group with their tutor in the garden for a day, and, as a watercolour artist myself, it was great to see how the garden looked through the eyes of someone else.

Towards the end of the year we decided that our small wild flower meadow was not doing as well as we could have wished for, and so had a change of plan. The area now contains ‘prairie style’ planting, so we shall see how it fares this season.

We also decided that the area at the top of the dry stream bed could do with a revamp, so was cleared at the end of the autumn. Inevitably some bulbs and Japanese anemones were not dug out and so we must dig it through again – more thoroughly this time perhaps? The plan is to make it into a small bog garden which we feel might be more in keeping with the dry stream theme! We hope that it will be finished in time for our visitors this year to see.

As I write this at the beginning of April, I have already watched the snowdrops and crocus come and go, the hellebores had a good year but are more or less gone over, the daffs are fading although there are just a few later flowering ones left to open. But, the tulips are just coming out, as are the fritillaries, pulmonaria Blue Ensign, camellias and the buds on the rhododendrons are fattening up nicely. From the blackthorn blossom in the hedges it looks like it might be a good year for sloes as long as the frost doesn’t catch them.

We have decided to change the planting slightly under the pergola in the top garden, which will now include some euonymous to provide some winter structure and some bush roses (which might stop the grandchildren from jumping over the beds instead of walking round on the path!!!), we have chosen 3 different roses to plant here, one a peachy orange, one yellow and one creamy white. (as I sit here at the computer writing this I cannot remember the names of the varieties, except to say they are all David Austin roses).

In the front garden we dug out 3 Hidcote lavenders that were a bit past their sell by date and have replaced them with rosa Pearl Drift which we bought when we celebrated our Pearl Wedding Anniversary in February.

The winter pruning was all completed despite the miserable weather, but I sorry to say I have got a bit behind with forking over and weeding all the beds, my excuse being that the soil has been too soggy to work on. However, it is beginning to dry out now so there is plenty to do.

So, April now, and the garden is really springing into life. The perennials are reminding me where I planted them, the fruit trees will soon be in blossom and everything is showing the promise of things to come. Lovely, can’t wait!

A Review of 2014

As I write this in January (2015) I know that once again I have neglected to keep the Blog up to date. However, I do keep a weekly diary of how the garden changes, and indeed the weather – slight neurosis on this topic I think! So I will look back at the gardening year and give you a bit of a review of how we have fared.

January; a soggy month, often windy but with mainly above average temperatures. The soil was too wet to work on, so general tidying was the order of the day and as always, with the large oak trees being last to lose their leaves there are always a few more leaves to rake out of the borders. Bulbs were quite early to start popping their noses up along with Camellia’s, Witch Hazel, Viburnum and Sarcoccoca coming into flower. Hellebores having plenty of buds, a promise of the flowers to come.

February; the first snowdrops out at the beginning of the month – what a joy! Early crocus out too and the Hellebores gradually coming out too, as are the cyclamen, pulmonaria’s and Mahonia. Grasses cut back as they are just beginning to show new growth and the tops have been looking rather tatty. The roses and clematis, apple and pears have all been pruned. I note that there is a lot of moss in the lawn after a wet and mild winter.

March; a bit drier thank goodness and beginning to get some early spring warmth in the sunshine. Lovely to have longer days too. Our many clumps of Tete a Tete daffs are out making the borders look very cheerful and the primroses are lighting up the shady areas of the garden. The dogwoods have been pruned, their red, yellow and orange stems having lit up the ‘fire circle’ during the Winter months. Much anticipation of the year to come as plants ordered from various catalogue start to arrive.

April; the lawns have had their first cut of the year and there’s now plenty of weeding to do. I find that the pesky little vine weevil grubs have attacked the Heuchera’s that I grow in pots, but I have managed to salvage enough bits to grow on for new plants. There is lots of blossom on the Damson, Plum and pear trees so I envisage a good harvest providing the weather is good enough for the bees to do their bit. The Amelanchier, Choiysia, early clematis and irises are in flower, the Rhodi’s and Azaleas flowering by the end of the month. Mike has prepared the mini wild flower meadow and sowed a mixture of annual seeds.

May; Huge excitement (on my part) as I notice the Davidia has 12 ‘handkerchiefs’ for the first time since it was planted in 2002. Patience rewarded!!! Also for the first time since planted about 6 years ago, the Dianella Tasmanica Red produced flower spikes. The fairly mild weather seems to have brought out Roses, cistus, heuchera, dicentra and lamium. The hanging baskets are all planted up and canna’s split and re-potted.

June; getting warmer- and drier- and it’s a joy to be working outdoors, feeling the sun on my back. The Cornus Kousa Chinensis in the lower garden is in full flower and looking fantastic. The rambling roses on the oak tree are the best we have seen them – they have almost reached the tree's lower branches now. The perennials are all growing well, providing plenty of colour, looking good for our first Open Garden Sunday at the end of the month.

July; most of the garden continues to be performing well, the climbers on the pergola’s looking particularly good this year. Unfortunately the wild flower meadow is very poor, with a lot of weeds, really disappointing – ah well, there’s always next year!

August; the hanging baskets have filled out really well and are looking very colourful. The day lilies are at their beautiful best. The agapanthus and canna’s are full of flower, I just love the exotic feel they bring to the terrace, along with the Aeoniums, Echevera’s etc. We have had a very good crop of Damsons, but the Victoria plum has too many fruits for the branches so the crop has been reduced by nearly 50% to save the branches being broken. We still had a very good crop, although we found plum moth grubs in quite a few of the plums.

September; the pebble bed below the terrace still looking good with the Echinacea, Eryngium, Perovskia, Tulbaghia, Agapanthus and Verbena Bonariensis producing a wonderful haze of pink, blue and mauve. All the cooking apples and plums have now been picked. We had no apples at all on our little Discovery eating apple, hopefully there will be some in 2015. We are totally delighted that this year the oak tree has NO ACORNS! Last year was a ‘mast’ year, when it produced a record amount, so none this year was not a big surprise, sometimes they go 2 years after a mast year without producing too big a crop of acorns. Fingers crossed. Apparently this September has been the driest on record.

October; continuing warm and dry ‘til late in the month enabling us to get well ahead in tidying up for the winter. The changing colours of the leaves has been beautiful with the Kaffir lilies providing welcome splashes of red and pink. Lots of leaves to rake up.

November; a month of general ‘putting the garden to bed’. Mike turned the compost heap.

December; lawns had their last mow of the year and the tree ferns have been wrapped up. A few bulbs just showing and one or two flowers on the Camellia’s. Last of leaves down from the oak tree and cleared away.

So there we are, another year in the garden over and looking forward to the next. Gardeners are forward looking and great planners. I can’t wait to see the first snowdrops...

January 2014

Once again time I updated the garden blog. I have been very remiss in not doing this task since last March.

I see that last March my first comments were about the weather. I am beginning to think that regarding this topic that neurosis is setting in!

Last Spring was long, cool and wet. I was beginning to think that some the plants would never get going as they just sat and sulked, but eventually the garden greened up and did its stuff.

Our first Open Day (NGS) was on Sunday 30th June – and joy of joys - the sun shone and people turned out. The garden looked neat and tidy (mostly), and some colour had appeared. That was the beginning of several weeks of beautiful Summer weather, producing a profusion of growth and colour, with many plants looking better than ever. Inevitably with little rain we had to do a lot of watering, especially all the pots, to keep it all going for our Hospice Open garden day and the private group visits through July and August. As you would then expect the ‘experts’ forecast that we were going into a ‘drought’ situation with dire warnings about how we should conserve our water. Fortunately, we have enough water storage (2 small and 4 large butts + a large tank) to keep us going for a considerable time.

We had refurbished the small beds that are under our large pergola in 2012, they had filled out considerably last year, but I hope to improve them further this year. They are difficult beds to get right as they are under the big oak tree, so rather dry, but need to be planted to fit in with the rest of the herbaceous borders in this area of the garden.

Going forward into the Autumn the garden continued to give us much pleasure, there is always the time at the end of the summer and beginning of the Autumn when you can sit back, relax and enjoy it. I do however, make a habit of wandering around almost every day pulling out the odd weed that has dared to show itself (or that I missed on the previous days wanderings), deadheading, and re-arranging pots! As with most gardeners I love a bit of planning and looking forward to the next season and year – what shall I change, what new plants shall I get, shall I move some plants as they might do better elsewhere???

We managed to more or less get the garden put to bed for the winter. There are still a few of the perennials that could do with cutting back, but the seed heads still provide some bird feed. Our main task this autumn was clearing up acorns. Altogether, we raked up 5 wheelie binfuls which must be a record (2 years ago we had 2 binfuls and thought that was a lot!). There were so many in the borders that although we have raked the bulk of them up, I’m sure we have left quite a few behind so I will be pulling up a lot of little oak trees during the coming year!

In the first storm of the winter we had a fairly large branch come off the oak tree on the other side of the footpath that runs down the side of our boundary, it landed in our big herbaceous border. Happily it didn’t do too much damage. It broke a branch off the Catalpa and a few twiggy bits off various shrubs. The shrubs where somewhat flattened but in the main came back up on their own.

Over the last few weeks we have suffered from a lot of wind and rain. There is a lot to be said for living on high ground – although we catch the South/South-westerly winds here, which can be extremely noisy – at least there is no chance of being flooded out. Having said that the garden is very soggy and it is impossible to get on the soil at the moment, I will have to start forking over at the first opportunity as it is so compacted from the heavy rain, but I must take care not to damage the tips of the emerging bulbs.

So as we begin 2014, there is quite a bit to do in the garden – the rest of the tidying up of the dead foliage of some of the perennials, some weeds are starting to grow, I have sown a few seeds which now need pricking out (geranium, eryngium, and prunella), and have some wallflowers that I haven’t planted yet!

As we haven’t got a greenhouse, I keep a lot of the tender plants such as Geraniums, echivera, canna’s and aeoniums in our garage, these are beginning to show signs of growth due to the weather generally having been relatively warm for the time of year. (our garage is insulated and has ample light)

The spring catalogues are starting to arrive through the letter box, all tempting me to buy a few more plants – which I am sure I will, as I can’t resist! If you visit our garden this year, hopefully you will see the results. We always have plants for sale too.

Our Open days this year are~:

Sunday 29th June for the National Garden Scheme

Sunday 20th July for the Hospice in the Weald

March 2013

High time to write an update I think. I realised that I have not added to the blog since last September which is far too long ago for me to remember all the details of how the garden fared during late Autumn and the Winter.

What I can remember, however, is how awful the weather has been through most of that time, so many grey days. I started putting the garden to bed in October and never finished due to the wet weather which seems to have been almost continuous since then, along with the cloudy skies, cold (days and nights) and snow. To have almost reached Easter with barely a glimmer (bar a few odd days) of sunshine is so unusual. Most of the good days that we have had seem to have coincided with days when I have been doing other things!

Well, now I have got the problems with the vagaries of the English weather off my chest I will see what I can say that is a little more positive.

...I’ll return to the subject of weather first though! The first snow of the winter was on Wednesday 5th December and the last (so far) was on Thursday 4th April, I have lost count of the snowy days in between. That’s not to say it always settled though, it was often wet snow.

However, we have just had a lovely weekend (6th/7th April), what a joy to be able to go out into the garden and work in the sunshine, in a sheltered spot and feel warm, the promise of the Spring weather to come perhaps?

Mike has now finished mulching the front and lower gardens with a mixture of manure and compost, the top garden still to be done with leaf-mould this year. The cutting back is almost finished – just some of the grasses left to do and a few perennials still to tidy up where I had left the seed heads for the birds. I have just pruned the dogwoods, including Cornus Midwinter Fire which I pruned back a bit harder than usual as they were getting very congested at the tops and a bit thin at the bottom. There seems to be divided opinion about pruning this variety as it is perhaps a little less easy going than the Sibirica’s. We will see!

Everything seems to be flowering very late – somebody told me that many plants are about 6 weeks behind, and indeed our large Camellia in the lower garden has been very reluctant to flower. It has had a few flowers on it for about 3 weeks and still has lots of buds to come, but would normally have odd flowers out from January.

Our snowdrops were lovely this year. They were only planted 2 and 3 years ago and are now making good clumps. The Tete a Tete daffs have been lovely too – little rays of sunshine brightening up the borders. We have some of the larger varieties which are yet to flower. The Hellebores have been very prolific; I just have to go round them raising their heads to see how beautiful they are. I don’t think I have a preference whether they are single or double, I love them all.

Many of you who have been to see the garden will know that Heuchera’s are one of my favourite plants. They are such good fillers for borders, come in wonderful colours and are also good in pots. I am sorry to say that I have lost a lot on the over the winter, a combination of the cold and wet I think. Consequently, I won’t have many for sale this year. I wonder how many people have had a problem with them. I have also had other casualties among my plants that I have been keeping for selling, but hope that I may be able to build up my stock before our first Open Day.

My first consignment of ‘ordered through catalogue’ plants arrived last week – very exciting – so have been busy getting them potted up. Not sure what the weather is going to do this week so, as I don’t have a greenhouse, they are being kept in the conservatory at the moment, and will be transferred to the log store for shelter once it is a degree or two warmer.

I can’t wait to see if our Davidia might actually have some ‘handkerchiefs’ this year, they can apparently take up to 20 years to ‘flower’, we’ve had ours for 11 years, but who knows?

So, the garden is gradually waking up, and we are working hard to get it ready for our summer visitors.

September 2012

Mixed weather this month, started dull and damp but warm – up to 22’C, then had a very wet week, followed by a dry one then back to rain again. I am getting very frustrated with the wet days as there is so much tidying up to do in the garden.

Colour-wise a lot of the flowering plants have gone over, many just battered down by the wind and rain, but in spite of that, the canna’s are doing their stuff and giving a good display – slightly late but never mind. Anemones are still going strong too, we grow them in white (Honorine Joubert and Whirlwind), light pink(don't know the variety) and dark pink(Pamina). Eupatorium Purpureum (Joe Pye Weed)is as magnificent as ever and much loved by the bees.

Our fruit trees have had a very poor or non-existent crop this year, but then, last years was amazing so I guess we can’t expect the same every year. The Bramley gave us enough apples for a couple of pies and the damson just about enough for one! Each of the pear trees had just one pear – and they were deformed so removed them anyway.

Our potato sack was quite successful giving us enough tasty potatoes for several meals. Runner and French beans and courgettes could have been better but the chilli plant produced a good crop of dark purple fruit.

Our long boundary hedge - Laurel in the Top garden and a woodland mix in the Lower garden had its 3rd cut of the year – it usually only needs two, so is now looking very tidy and shouldn’t grow too much more this year. The oak tree is shedding very few acorns - English Oaks only tend to have a large crop every 3rd year and last year we had the largest crop ever! Most of those that are coming down so far this year seem to be deformed which is rather curious.

I got very excited at the end of the month when I opened up the compost heap and found a young grass snake curled up on the top of the compost. It slowly uncurled itself and wriggled away and I haven’t seen it since. I usually find a couple of voles in the compost heap which I am always delighted to see in there.

August 2012

Has been a mixed month weather wise, the garden has been looking lovely and there has not been too much weeding to be done, I have just been wandering round the garden, pulling out an odd weed here and there, snipping off a the dead heads as flowers fade.

Unfortunately many of the bedding geraniums seem to have succumbed to rust, we have sprayed them and picked off the affected leaves, but I fear that I will not be able to find many healthy shoots for cuttings or be able to overwinter as many plants as usual.

Otherwise the garden this month has been there to enjoy, to sit back with feet up, a cup of tea and a good book on a sunny afternoon.

July 2012

Continued to be wet and windy which wasn't very helpful for our first Open Garden Day of the year on the 1st. Flowers were still late in showing themselves although the roses that are climbing up the oak tree have been the best ever. The honeysuckles on the pergola's have been very floriferous too.

Unfortunately it would seem that the Clematis Armandii on the pergola has died. In some ways not a great surprise as it has always struggled a bit as it was under the oak tree and therefore the soil very dry.

Our 2nd Open Garden Day was on the 22nd and what a beautiful day that was – warm and sunny and barely a cloud in the sky. The flowers stopped sulking and were looking fantastic...at last!

June 2012

Started with the Queens Jubilee weekend, what a wet and windy time that was!

The rubbish June weather continued in the same vein for most of the month making gardening a less than happy hobby at times. The late Spring flowers came out late and the bedding geraniums in our pots and hanging basket positively sulked, not really getting going ‘til July.

The wildflower meadow was very late with still no flowers in the middle of the month. Plenty of foliage growth though and the weeds were very happy and HUGE! Our potted veg not great either – just sitting there not doing a lot.

May 2012

All apart from one week from the 20th which was warm sunny and dry, May was a wet and at times windy month also cool – a bit like most of April really.

However, plants started to grow at last, but with the lack of sun it has been mostly foliage growth and in some respect to the detriment of flowers. Having said that the Rhododendrons and Azaleas, although later flowering than last year, have been spectacular. Our fruit blossom was over quickly, I hope that there will be some cooking apples, a few pears and maybe a very few damsons. There are no Victoria plums at all.

Some people think that I am very strange in that I love weeding! Unfortunately with the recent rain I have got somewhat behind with the weeding and now, in the lower garden particularly they are running riot! Hairy bittercress, and dandelions being the most prolific. Happily the pignut is almost gone from the flower beds and the remainder of its leaves are yellowing – there is still plenty of it under the boundary hedges though.

The new beds under the pergola are planted up and filling out, the Aquilegia "Green Apples" is so dainty in flower and the Achillea Moonshine is just coming into flower.

I still have some new plants which I had hoped to use to fill spaces, but the foliage growth has been so great that I can no longer see the gaps for which they were intended! I have lost one or two hosta's from the bed around the "dry stream" and need to put some new ones in – I have already got a Krossa Regal or Big Daddy that I could use... or maybe some ferns instead!

All our pots for our terrace display are now growing on nicely as are the hanging baskets, and at last I have managed to split all the canna's, giving enough for the displays as well as quite a few for sale on our Open garden days.

April 2012

From a very dry start to the year we are now making up for it! We seem to have had a lot of rain so far this month; at least, there have been quite a few days when I have been unable to garden. Recently it has been windy as well. The up side is that all the water butts are full to overflowing and the soil is becoming moist enough good for strong spring growth. The weeds seem to be enjoying it too!

Some of the new plants are now in the beds under the long pergola and growing away. I have planted white sedums, Aquilegia "Green Apples", Dianthus Mrs Sinkins, Achillea Moonshine, coreopsis Moonbeam and crocosmia George Davison. Still to plant are Iris Black Swan and some Heuchera's.

Most of the daffs (except for the Pheasant Eye's) are just about gone over as are the early tulips. Pulmonarias have done well, Blue Ensign has been a picture. Epimediums are coming into flower, the ones under the Betula jackmonii looking particularly good.

A fox or badger has been digging its way into the garden from next door where there is a large hole under the fence. I actually am inclined to think it may be a fox as one has definitely been scent marking around the terrace again which is somewhat unpleasant!

Still lots to do, the Canna's need splitting and repotting so that there will be some for sale on our Open Garden days (1st and 22nd July), and other plants which will be for sale will need to be potted on or tidied and top dressed. Still plenty of time to do that particular job though.

All the grass has been treated this month with weed, feed and moss killer and also scarified so some areas, especially in the lower garden are a bit lacking in grass. Never mind, I'm sure it will soon grow back.

The month finished as wet as it began, and often chilly for the time of year.

23rd March 2012

We are almost at the end of another very dry month. Plants in pots especially are suffering already, and we don’t usually have to think about watering them at this time of the year. I am thinking that I must carefully consider which will be the most drought resistant plants to put in our pot displays.

We have bought 2 new water butts (there's obviously been a run on them at the stores as very few available to buy), bringing our total to 6 plus a big tank. Two weeks ago Mike pumped all the water that was in four butts into the big tank, so now we need a bit of rain to refill them. Fingers crossed!

All the spring flowers are looking good: hellebores are a delight, daffs are little rays of sunshine, with pulmonarias, brunnera, primroses and grapehyacinths all adding to the kaleidoscope of colours.

The blossom on the Damson (Merryweather) is just coming out and the Pear (Conference and Concorde) blossom will not be far behing. Just hope we don’t get a sharp frost.

The bees have been very active on the last few warm and sunny days – mostly bumblebees. We try to use plants that will attract the pollinators to our garden, we think it is very important to encourage them as they are seemingly in decline.

Most of the garden has now been tidied up and mulched, just a couple of beds left to do. The grass in the lower garden was treated with weed, feed and moss kill last weekend and all the grass should get its first cut of the year this weekend.

28th February 2012

Very unusual weather. We’ve gone from 4” of snow, to night time temperatures of between -7’C to -10’C, and towards the end of the month there have been daytime highs of up to 18’C! Poor plants, they’re all over the place!

Walking round the garden today I find so many plants waking up from their winter hibernation and showing that Spring is on its way. There are the shoots of perennials becoming visible, fat buds on the roses, hydrangeas, clematis and honeysuckle. The Tete a Tete’s are just coming out adding to the colour from the hellebores, snowdrops, crocus and iris, as well as the first primroses.

I have just about finished the pruning; the roses are all done, as are the clematis and Buddleia’s. Still need to finish collecting up all the winter debris though, particularly in the lower garden. Most of the top garden has been cleared and mulched with a mixture of compost, leaf mould and well rotted horse manure, and is looking quite tidy... except where the blackbirds have had great fun with the mulch which they throw out onto the lawn!

10th February 2012

Weather continuing to be very cold. Below freezing at night for the last 2 weeks, and barely above freezing during the day. We had 4” snow overnight 4/5th February. Happily, over the previous weekend, we had managed to clear and mulch all the beds in the front garden and most of the back top garden.

Our beautiful pink Camellia in the bottom garden has not enjoyed the cold weather, it was in full flower (3-4 weeks earlier than usual) but is now covered in mainly brown flowers. Never mind, we were able to enjoy it for a while.

The Snowdrops and Iris reticulata are out, and the Tete a Tete’s poking their noses up the soil. The Sarcococca’s are continuing fill the air with their delicious scent which is a real joy.

Currently we are not doing much gardening, but I am enjoying looking through all the catalogues that have been dropping through the letterbox, trying to decide what I need... or rather what I have space for. I have been trying to plan the beds under the pergola, I think I would like the colour theme to be white green and yellow (all my beds have to have a colour theme!), so far having decided on Pinks, Achillea, Heuchera and Aquilegia, but we shall see!

12th January 2012

Its now mid January and the garden has become unusually dry for the time of year. The last week has seen day time temperatures into 2 figures although now becoming cooler and below freezing forecast for the end of the month. I spent a very nice 10 minutes in the lower garden sitting in the sunshine yesterday and feeling quite warm.

The Hellebores are in flower – a real joy, and I have a pot of snowdrops looking lovely on the terrace. The fox has been scent marking its territory round the terrace which is not a joy! We also have Pulmonaria Rubra flowering, as well as Witch hazel, Sarcococca and Viburnum Bodnantse Dawn which are giving off a lovely perfume when I walk past.

4th January 2012

2011 was on odd year weatherwise, drier than usual, warm in the spring and cool in the summer. It was very wet and windy on one of our Open Garden days but despite the at times indifferent weather we raised almost £2k shared between the National Garden Scheme and Hospice in the Weald. Thank you to all those who came and supported our charities.

A very wet and windy start to the year, although not too cold. We have a mature Oak tree on our boundary and another in the adjacent foot path which have lost a lot of twiggy growth in the high winds – more to clear up, following on from the enormous amount of acorns that we had to pick up in the late autumn... nearly ½ a wheelie bin full every week for 6 weeks, unfortunately we don’t know anyone with pigs!

Mike did manage to cut the grass on Christmas Eve, which picked up the last of the oak leaves, although I didn’t follow him round trimming the edges – too much to do in preparation for the festivities.

The garden is looking a bit sad and soggy at the moment, there is still some cutting back of late perennials to complete and the beds are not all mulched. The beds under the pergola have been emptied, widened and had the soil improved and are ready for replanting. Haven’t decided exactly how they will be replanted but will include several varieties of Heuchera’s in the scheme.

I am wondering how the plants are going to behave during the coming year. Last year with its strange weather pattern found some plants sulking and others becoming oddly unruly. My cardoon was trying to flower in December! Our large pink camellia in the lower garden has been in flower for a couple of weeks now, far earlier than normal; I fear it will be caught by a frost before too long. All around the garden bulbs are beginning to show their noses above the surface of the soil, I suspect they too will be checked if it turns colder.