Winter Tasks

The trees on my drive have been given a much-needed trimming to remove dead or dying wood and thin out the crowns so that they do not present a large top-heavy mass of branches at the top of the plant during storms. The branches are perfect for the birds when approaching the feeder and the trimming means that I can now see them properly. I am particularly fond of the robin who greets me every morning and is now allowing me to take close up photographs. We always have a little chat and he seems content to be sociable and wait for the food. There is something special about the trust that these wee creatures place in you and I worry on the odd occasion when he does not appear for the morning feed. I am sure that I could get him to feed out of my hand but don’t want to encourage him to get too close to humans. I am content just to stay with him for a while and marvel at the detail of his coat.

I have also made the acquaintance of a very shy bird – the dunnock. I know that there are one or two around but rarely see them. To my surprise one has started sitting close to one of the feeders where there is good cover from a thick hedgerow where they can run to for cover. Like the robin they stay close to me if I don’t make any sudden moves and seem content to watch and wait for the feeder to be filled. I also throw some seeds on the ground just in case they prefer this mode of feeding.

This is another view of the newly trimmed trees from my field. The stone wall provides a little shelter to the fruit garden on the right and the palm garden on the left but does nothing to protect the fruit and shrubs from the gales from the south. I have decided to use Craetageus Prunifolia in the fruit garden to add to the shelter and am using shrubs such as berberi and buddlea in the the palm garden. This photo also gives an indication of how narrow the garden is in places as the drive and boundary is just behind the trees. This is another another challenge when planting, as I can’t plant anything too tall on the south side of the garden.

The prehistoric garden from my fields. The bath in the corner collects rainwater from the roof of my house and provides water to cows and plants alike. This is recycling on a large scale.

It is very easy to see why this is called the Staghorn Sumac. I love this tree as it provides interest all the year round and its autumn colours are second to none. This tree stands at the edge of the garden with no protection and is doing very well despite being exposed to all storms. It is interesting that in other locations it can spread quickly via suckers. This is not happening here and the few suckers that appear each year can easily be controlled.

The weather has been very variable in the last few weeks but the one constant is the lack of rain. Even without flowers the plants are impressive on one of the many frosty days that we have had this winter. The wild flowers are particularly dramatic as their low leaves attract most of the frost. This is a foxglove contrasting with a self-seeded red dogwood – a perfect pairing.

This is the dreaded creeping buttercup but even I can appreciate it when it is covered in a silver white frost. This cold scene is in stark contrast to the appearance of the first violet of the year. The state of the leaves indicates the severity of the winter so far.

Other wildflowers continue to make their mark in the garden. Flowering Dandelions, Hawkbit and Daisies can be found on the drive and in the copse and either a Sea Carrot or a Wild Carrot will flower within the next few days. (I make my identification based on the pink centre of the Wild Carrot). All of these have dealt with strong, salty winds and frost in the last month and you have to admire their resilience. This is one of the reasons that they have pride of place in the garden amongst the other more formal plants.

The Camellia ‘Brushfield’s yellow’ is usually the second to flower and this is the first of many blossoms. It does not do well in frost as the flowers turn an ugly brown yellow. However, the shrub is covered in many hundreds of buds I hope that at least some stay as beautiful as this one.

Another camellia braving the elements. It is rather frustrating as I find it difficult to reproduce some of the red and pink colours accurately in a photograph. This Camellia ‘Spring Festival’ is more peach coloured than pink. This is the first bud of the season and as this plant is just a few years old I won’t have dramatic displays for a few years to come.

There is one area of the driveway that is producing a regular crop of common, inkcap mushrooms. This is the fourth ‘crop’ this season. I don’t think that they will go through their full cycle as it looks as if some of them are being knocked over and nibbled. I hope enough spores are released for yet another batch this season.

We have been treated to some very dramatic sunsets recently. The hill behind my house almost looks as if it is on fire. Sadly, it was not a case of ‘red sky at night Shepherds delight’ and the next day started out damp and foggy and ended up damp and stormy. I am sure that is just a coincidence that this was the day after I had decided that I missed the sound of the wind.

One response to “Winter Tasks”

  1. Always a delight to read your blog, Julie, to hear what’s happening across your way and the photos are cherry on the cake. Those stone walls are works of art…I love them. Keep up the excellent work.

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