The temperature – according to our rather inaccurate but highly visible outdoor thermometer – has not reached the dizzy heights of zero Celsius since last Friday. This is my first year with a greenhouse, and although initially I thought I would keep it frost free, I decided that, in the interests of long-term frugality and a general sense of it “not being very ethical”, to just insulate it with bubble wrap. I’d seen claims that it would save me up to 50% of the cost of heating the greenhouse, but had no real idea as to how much warmer it would help it stay as compared to the outside temperature. To be honest, I still don’t, as I’ve not snuck out at dead of night to check the outdoor thermometer! But the temperature fluctuation certainly seems to be minimal, and I know the outdoor temperature has dipped as low as -8C by early evening the past few days. So the fact that so far the coldest temperature recorded in the greenhouse is -1.8C is quite impressive! The only truly tender plants I have in the greenhouse are Arctotis plants. They are in pots wrapped in more bubble wrap and then covered in two layers of fleece. As they are still flowering, I’m at least slightly optimistic that they might survive the winter, which would be great as the cuttings I struck back in September, which took really well, have since died.
I don’t seem to be terribly good at cuttings after-care – I had these inside on a sunny windowsill, but they went from thriving to dead within 2 days. Must be a watering issue, but I don’t know if I gave them too much or too little! I am, for some reason, much more successful with seeds.
All this cold weather is taking its toll on the garden. The Aucuba that looked so wonderful when I featured it last week is currently looking decidedly sorry for itself. The Patient Gardener blogged about this phenomena just yesterday, of evergreen leaves suddenly going darker and limper. I think Christina could be right in suggesting in the ensuing discussion that it could be the sudden onset of the severe cold after a comparatively mild spell, so that plants that were happily still growing away have been caught unawares. I am relying on the tough and resilient nature of all members of the Aucuba japonica family to mean that it will make a full recovery.
Happily there are compensations! The beautiful tracery of lace-like patterns created by the frost on the greenhouse being one. The efficiency of our central heating, combined with the ability to pay for it, being another! Stay warm, and may your garden flourish despite the weather!