The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

The Colour of Winter is in the Imagination

January.  A month of plans. 

I really want to get out into the garden, but the earth is hard as stone, and I'm duty-bound to leave the garden asleep under it's blanket of grey foliage.  Oh but it does look a mess.  It looks like I have given up on the land.  I suppose I could say I've handed it over to nature, the cruel beast that she is. 
But method is in this madness.  After the losses of the previous winter, I made the conscious decision to leave much of the foliage on my plants to help with the insulation.  We shall see in the spring whether it was the right one.

I suppose I should see this quiet time as fortuitous really, as even if I could go out, I really shouldn't as I'm recuperating from a wee operation on my foot.  The Man that Can...can though!  And this morning as I blog, he is out trimming part of the conifer hedge back by the bird feeders.  If he doesn't do it now, we'll have to wait until after the summer to do it, to allow the breeding birds to feel secure.  It should really have been done earlier, so I hope it doesn't react badly...

This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.  Not that a big garden is required, you could do it in your local park.  All you need is a pen and a scrap of paper, and a free hour over 29/30th January. Note down all the birds seen in your patch in a single hour, and submit your results.  For more information and ID sheets, check out the RSPB website.  Hedging is now trimmed back, bird feeders topped up, and our ID sheet poised for action.  I've found 3pm is a good time for our feathered visitors.

I've played about with various seeds and feeders over the years. Our birds seems to prefer sunflower hearts, which are paricularly high in energy fats essential to help keep them warm. Other favourites are peanuts for the tits.  The robin, blackbird and dunnock like mealworms.   We do have a feeder with niger seeds for the finches, but I think they may have moved out of the area (do they migrate?). The starlings will eat absolutely anything, and will fight over fatballs, fat pellets and suet blocks. Yummy.
Oh and please don't forget water, especially this time of year. It freezes over very readily, and often needs breaking up and replacing a couple of times a day when the weather is this cold.

It's not all doom and gloom in the winter garden.  Things are beginning to stir.

My baskets of viola are looking a little sorry for themselves at the moment.  I'll pick over them, give them a good water, and once the weather improves, so will they.  They've done well to survive so far. I'm very proud of them.

Cheery yellows stand out in the poor winter light

Buds are appearing all along the stems of the Lonicera (honeysuckle). Maybe 2011 will be the year it begins to flower...

Ah, fresh shoots pushing through the frozen soil. What a welcome sight.  I believe these to be Galanthus (snowdrops).

Fat silky buds sprouting from Clematis Rhapsody. Nothing yet on the other side of the front door, but there's plenty of time yet.

A part of gardening for me that is still very much a learning curve is the care of houseplants.  I think this is more due to the fact that I do like a warm home.  Unfortunately central heating has a detrimental effect on many plants as it dries the air out.  Standing the pots on moist gravel does the trick with some, as does a little misting of the foliage.  You can't do this with 'hairy' leaved plants though, as they will rot. 

I've also discovered the leaves of Calathea'Triostar' (Prayer Plant) dislike having any moisture left on them, and should even a tiny drop of water is left on them, it will thank you by turning brown and crispy.  However, they do like high humidity... I tend to water weekly, and give each varigated leaf a quick wipe.  It's called prayer plant because as night falls, the leaves raise upwards 'in prayer' revealing stunning red/purple undersides. 
It's not the best specimen of plant, but it's a fickle character.  So far it's managed 2 years.

This cyclamen was a gift a couple of years ago from the school where I volunteered.  This will be the third time I've managed to get it to flower, but it will need repotting in the summer when it's dormant, as it's beginning to look a little thin on foliage.

The humble Spiderplant (chlorophytum comosum).  Probably the easiest of all houseplants, and perfect for beginners like myself.  I don't think it's particularly happy at the moment though, so I need to invest a little time and TLC.  I think it is probably a simple case of being in the wrong place, as it's sitting in a north-facing window.  It needs a bit of a prune too, and I'm going to pot up the babies dangling at the ends of the flower stems.

This is mother-in-law's orchid returned to me to try and repeat last year's success at coaxing it to flower again.

 And this is one I picked up in a bargain bin at the supermarket. Healthy enough, but it'll be a surprise what colour the flowers will be if I can jolly it along.

Another supermarket buy, this is Dracena Marginata (dragon tree) I've researched it a little, but I can't really tell you an awful lot about how it's getting on, because it was only purchased a couple of weeks ago.

This is my experiment - to get a Jasminum Polyanthum to re-flower.  It was bought last winter. In fact I've bought one every winter for many years, and thown them away when the plants collapses and dies.  So far, I've managed to cut it back hard last spring and train it to grow around the wire inserted in the pot.  There aren't any flower buds on it yet though... 

These are the two healthy looking Christmas Cacti being tended by The Toad. You may recall one had a beautiful pink bloom.

This one on the other hand doesn't seem to like it on the bathroom windowsil. Too cold judging by the red tinge to the leaves.  Ah well, all a learning curve.  I'll move it slightly.  Nice to see a second flush of flowers though, even if it is a garish colour.  I'd like a nice white one please!

Amaryillis bulbs. This top one is a nice fresh new one.  You may be able to make out a tiny mark where we decided to measure how much it grew in 24 hours - 15mm!!  Of course now it's far higher, and beginning to fatten up.

This one however is all leaf and no flower.  I did manage two years out of it, but I have a feeling I'm supposed to chill it for a few weeks before potting it back up.  Next year's trial maybe?

It's February in a matter of days.  Usually the coldest of our months...


  1. Hello! Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I stumbled on it while searching for gardening tips for Yorkshire climate/soil. I've moved here relatively recently and am still learning by trial and error. Your plants are beautiful!

  2. Thank you Lauren!
    I hope you find some of my tips helpful. Gardening is often trial and error. What works in one garden, for one gardener isn't always going to work in another. Part of the joys I think! :o