I’m a little surprised how long it is since I last wrote here, as usual there are no comments which is a disincentive to write. But here I am again on the last day of the year with an up-date.

There’s a sense of being able to shut the gate and retreat to the nice warm barn and almost become a hermit. One of the main benefits is that my normally chilblain covered feet have been warmer due to the under floor heating. There have been some low temperatures (minus 10 degrees one night) but the heating has helped enormously. Having said that I do go to work each day carrying my packed lunch as if going home was out of the question. The two falls of snow over the last few weeks have made me feel quite cut off mainly because the road here is rarely gritted and there is a steep canal bridge to drive over. Even on the snowiest day I found things to do. Brushing the snow off the polytunnels was an arm-aching but warming job, necessary to because it was up to 10 inches thick in places. I also began to try to rationalise (ie tidy up) the shed much to Philip’s consternation. Quite why we keep rusty nails, broken sprayers and odd bits of wood is hard to understand.

Winter is my best time to review the garden. So far this year I have slowly removed a bamboo using a pick-axe. It had never done well, always looked sulky and was taking up too much room so it’s gone. Other plants have gone to the bonfire pile too including an escallonia which I don’t really like and some self seeded Leycesteria formosa. I dug up some miscanthus which had marjoram, aquilegias and weeds growing in the middle, split them up, replanted some and potted the rest up. I’m currently reducing the size of some Molinia and Calamagrostis. All this takes much longer than I expect it to take, partly because I don’t have the strength or stamina I once had and partly because there’s usually ten things to do before I can do what I’d originally set out to do. Then there is the weather which dictates what I can do. It is getting soggier and squelchier now so I will be restricted because of that. But it is special to be able to set out to do something and not have any interruptions, so I can think things through. I sometimes think I’m the only one gardening at this time of year.

I planted a few hundred bulbs along the drive leading to the barn and have added in some shrub roses but the ground has never been worked before, it is sticky, wet clay and now is water logged so it will be interesting to see what will grow there. Some of the daffs are already peeping through.

As ever I am hopeful for a perfect gardening year ahead with the weather doing only moderate things and gradually moving from season to season without breaking any records.

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