Pathways were dug to the hen house almost on a daily basis, who refused to come out to play in this strange, cold white blanket.
This was my first proper winter since moving up here in 2006, and from a gardener's point of view, unknown territory.
Despite faithfully dressing my little greenhouse with bubblewrap, most of the tender plants I tried to overwinter, along with most of the cuttings I had taken at the tail end of the previous summer perished. Given the hard winter, I wasn't surprised.
But Spring was just around the corner...wasn't it?
The first blooms in our garden are snowdrops. These dainty little ladies were shy this year, not beginning to open until 20th February. These beauties were a gift from a good friend of ours last year, planted in-the-green as they take better that way. The following day, they were hidden under a thick blanket of snow again.
Bright yellow crocus were next. Usually I have problems with the birds tearing them up, but this year I've been lucky. Close behind, were these beautiful purple ones.
These pots contain many jewels. Late last autumn, I potted up two very large tubs with lots of different bulbs. It's a bit of a trial, and I do like to try new things. At the bottom are some summer flowering lillies, and above these I have layered many bulbs from crocuses and daffodils to hyacinths to name but a few. The plan is for each new layer to help hide the dying leaves of the next. I'm not entirely sure it will work, but it's worth a go.
My first daffodils finally burst into life on March 16th. Almost a month later than last year!
There seems to be some activity in the bird world. A little later than recent years, but there's certainly a feeling of urgency. Some lost ground to make up in the woo-ing perhaps? This little lady is building a nest in a neighbour's fascia. and finds the coir in my wall basket perfect to line it with. Completely unfazed by my presence, I sat watching the female sparrow for an hour and a half flitting back and forth, before I got so cold, I couldn't feel my fingers. I wonder what my neighbours think I was doing...
Another change in the garden. The weather is improving, and the chickens would be better placed at the bottom near the greenhouse, freeing up the 'patio' again for entertaining. But the stepping-stone path isn't really as practical as it is attractive, so The Man That Can laid a new path down the length of the lawn.
The Bumble Bee and I had the task of cutting the Passiflora back hard. I've taken to carrying out this drastic action every couple of years. It does check the flowers for the first year, but it generally makes so much difference, and allows me to check and preserve the wood of the archway.
It's hard work to clear the site, but very necessary, as this is where the hen house will live. You can just make out the dry-stone planting space The Man That Can made me last year, but that has to go too...as will all the lovely friable compost within.
The chickens will love it down here, it's out of the full sun, so not so hot in the summer as on the patio. If only we can coax them down. Aretha and Gladys are too busy chasing Lola around the lawn, who has found a particularly tasy slug whilst scratting about in their favourite place under the conifer hedge.
The rockery behind the garage was given a good weeding and some garden compost added to it to help improve the soil. A Buddleia was planted here, along with a couple of primulae that had been struggling to grow in the raised bed. They join a couple of what appear to be large Athyrium ferns (Lady Fern, I think) and a Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart's Tongue Fern), along with a clump of deep crimson peonies.
What used to be the pond has had a facelift too. The cherry tree was dug up and given to one of our neighbours, where we can still enjoy the blossom. The bed has been dug over, and some compost mixed in. I'm going to grow some veg here. It has been divided into four for now. The front right has the acer whose buds are just begining to break. It's sheltered from the winds down here. To the left is a large clump of the same deep crimson Peonies found on the rockery above, and also in the front garden.
The old stone from the planting space have found a new home too. We've made the boys flower & veg plot larger, and raised it a little. The compost from the original bed has been put to good use here too.
The layering in my containers seems to be working so far. I wish we had smelly-vision for you to breathe in the heady scent of these Hyacinths. I have moved them to the top of the steps, so that each time the back door is open, the fragrance wafts in.
The water butts have been emptied and cleaned out and new potting bench was erected in the greenhouse. A bargain for £15 from our local supermarket, and a gift from my two sons, Toad and Bumble Bee.
I am ready for Spring, and the busy seed-sowing and potting on that it brings.