I wasn’t going to bother with an End of Month View post for this month, partly because I wasn’t sure Helen was going to host the meme this month, with it being New Year’s Eve, and partly because it is so grey and dank out there the prospect of photographing the garden in its current state was rather unappealing!
However, I don’t go in for New Year’s resolutions, I always feel they tend to set me up for failure rather than motivating me, and this is intended to be an honest account of my garden in all its states. So here it is, in all its post frost and snow tattiness!
The pond border is saved only by the grace of the grasses and sedums. They are still adding structure, and the backdrop of evergreens behind helps avoid a total wasteland look.
The Knautia macedonica is looking very tatty post frost, so I will cut this back and hope that the Stipa tenuissima give enough structure to provide some interest on the left hand end of the bed. I will try following Christina’s method of combing out the dead bits to leave green growth. I also rather desperately need to finish the pond tidying that got curtailed by the sudden hard frosts. The pond has only been completely unfrozen for a couple of days – the birds are delighted – and although the water quality didn’t seem to suffer at all last year when I didn’t clear the leaves at all, I think I might be pushing my luck to go that route again. Hopefully I will avoid having to wade in, as even with pond waders I imagine that would be a little on the cold side, but I also need to trim back the marginal plants.
The Magnolia border is looking rather bare, though the tree together with the Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ and the Oak-leaved hydrangea prevent it from being entirely barren. The hydrangea appears to have decided to be an evergreen, which is a little puzzling. The leaves had been hanging like damp dishrags during the frosts, but they seem to have recovered somewhat, and remain stubbornly attached and stubbornly green. Actually rather a bonus at the moment…
The Magnolia is a particular source of delight. I love the shape that FIL has created, making the decision to turn it into a proper tree rather than leave it as a large shrub has worked wonderfully well. The birds – mostly tits of various sorts – seem to find all manner of interesting insects on it, and are a near-constant source of entertainment for anyone stood at the sink. Since even with a dishwasher this is something that tends to happen more than usual at this time of year, I am grateful for their cheerful antics.
It is terribly easy to fall victim to multiple clichés when it comes to the sight of bulbs pushing through, but I was thrilled to see the crocus beginning to emerge amidst the leaf litter in the Magnolia bed. A succession of grey days and my own extreme tiredness had left me feeling distinctly sorry for myself. Every year, ever since I left home to go to University, I have followed a certain pattern. I live life to the limit, cramming in as much as I can all year until I hit Christmas. In recent years, I make it as far as putting the Christmas Day dinner on the table, and then I hit a wall of exhaustion. I count myself as reasonably intelligent, and surely one of the hallmarks of an intelligent, thoughtful individual is the ability to learn from experience. So you would think that I would have learnt to slow down a little, perhaps just in the run up to Christmas. But at work we always had deadlines we were racing to meet, working right up to the wire, and then gardening tends to mean that Autumn is a busy time too.
I think what compounds the stupidity in my own case is that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which really does not respond well to pushing energy levels to the limit. Nevertheless, the pattern remains, this year as ever. Like the garden, I now need a period of semi-dormancy, so unlike many I am not pining for Spring, grateful though I am for the reminders that it will indeed come. I need this period of respite from the physical activity of gardening to rebuild some energy reserves. So, in all likelihood the pond will still be full of leaves and surrounded by untrimmed marginals at the end of January. This is my time for dreaming, for wrestling with the choices of which tomatoes and chillies to grow, and for plotting how best to use the seedlings that have survived the first Big Freeze in the greenhouse. I’m hoping to use some nifty stuff available on WordPress to help me track what plants I have in the garden and what new ones I might add, with the idea that I might actually plan out what to do with the Pond Bed come Spring. I’ve used planting plans in the past, when creating a new border, but once something has been established I tend to get rather more “spontaneous”. Given that I will be changing so much in the Pond Bed in 2011, I think it might be worth going to the trouble of having a plan. Not that I will keep to it, its role is probably as much as a focus for my dreaming as anything. We’ll see!
Happy New Year, may 2011 be full of gardening and non-gardening delights.