Winter Gardening in 2001
A Southerly on its Way
I'd like to make the claim that I garden in winter... all winter.
I shift things, I dig out unsuspecting shrubs and drag them around. In winter my sense of imminent growth is supreme. I know exactly how big everything gets and how much room everything needs.
The Shapes of Winter
I like seeing the shapes of the trees. Winter is a good time for noticing shapes - it's the time when I know that the borders are just not big enough. I make huge shape decisions in winter, which usually mean that grass turves are going to be relocated.
Winter Rose Arch
I try to put all the beds to bed, laying assorted mulches and covering with a blanket of peastraw. Then a few weeks later I have to race around poking at the emerging daffodils, helping them through. I'm prepared for the worst - I've folded the big gunnera leaves over the crowns for cold protection - but will my latest favourites (the canna lilies) survive the frosts?
Barish Winter Borders
Each winter I resolve to use a defoliating spray on the roses. Then I forget to. A well behaved winter is supposed to kill all bugs and lurking fungal spores. Rose pruning happens rather late, because of the frosts. My first pruning days are neat and thoughtful, the secateurs just so, the angle just right, each bush given due reverence. By the end of the exercise I have the hedge clippers out and am standing on a wobbly chair squinting into the sun and cutting blind. It all works. There are close to 300 roses here, and few complain (it's not my pruning style that gets them anyway, but we won't talk about rust or blackspot here).
The flaxes and grasses take pride of place in the barish borders, tidy and beautiful as they've been all year. There are frosts in the mornings, followed by clear sunny days with blue blue sky. The gardener, resplendent in striped thermals, can stare at the snowclad mountains in the distance, knowing that she'd rather not be there - a great feeling!
Rare Winter Snow
But speaking of snow, we've had snow fall and settle on the ground in winter. One time it actually stayed for three days. Back then I was a novice snow gardener, and didn't realise that snow is heavy on shrubs (it was) and causes branches to break (it did - the ceanothus, for example). The cats hated walking in the snow.
I always start my seeds late winter in the glass-house, with incredible zeal and good intentions. These seeds will be labelled, nurtured, never neglected, cherished. I will get the watering just right. I'll proudly plant them out on the appropriate cloudy day - but that's another seasonal story....