Sunday 27 January 2019

My garden each month, January

Out of my pond
I have made a new year resolution!  

It is to report what is happening in my garden each month. Every year is different with new triumphs and disasters - some tiny shimmers when some gardening gem reappears or deep gloom when a shrub bites its head off. Major events such as flood, drought or cows crossing the garden. It won't all be pretty but if I snap any nice pictures I will surely show you. I will sometimes cheat when previous year's pictures are better than this time round.

All gardens are different and mine is more different than most (this is not intended to be complimentary) and not all I do will be relevant to you and sometimes you will look on with amusement or even distain.

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Clearing my two ponds

Danger of oxygen depletion as debris decays
My twin ponds have become overgrown. For eighteen years now I have merely scooped out unwanted vegetation, leaves and litter with my upturned scarifier. All of sudden what was welcome cover for the fishes has become somewhat excessive. I have been indulgent with the hippurus horsetail, wilful with the water bean and cavalier with my oxygenators.

I think part of the trouble was last years's drought and Brenda regularly refilling with tap water. (Regular readers will know I always blame my beloved). There is more nitrate in tap water than you might imagine and did the plants grow! (permitted levels are below 10 ppm are completely safe)

Getting started
I have given it a much more thorough clear out this January. I have used my normal methods but much more intensively. I dragged out everything that I could find. (Not the water lilies which have spread out of their containers). In all I have removed twenty piled barrowloads.
I like to divide such heavy jobs into repeated short efforts. It took several more sessions than my hour on New Year’s day. Under the thick mat of surface vegetation it was surprisingly clear and the amount of well decayed organic matter accumulated at the bottom was not as much as I feared and is so well decayed it is unlikely to deplete oxygen and I am very happy to leave it.

 Cyano-bacteria exposed
The pollution in the above picture looks pretty bad. I have encountered it before and it has quickly disappeared after clearing. It is toxic to fishes and can be very serious in overgrown waterways

Narcissus romieuxii

Five years ago Peter gave me a pot of seedlings and I have been building up my stock by annual division in alpine pots in the greenhouse. I just love them and now I have enough stock to try them outside
I was heartbroken in October when a snail went on a rampage and grazed to the ground emerged centimetre long shoots. The snail was soon dealt with and the shoots regenerated. I have been reading how plants rapidly internally transmit warnings of a predator and seem to know whether the best survival strategy is to keep on growing or die back. The ones radulated by snails are now flowering as well as the others.
I was puzzled why another pot failed to emerge until two months after the others. I think that when I divided them they went to the bottom of the pot and perhaps upside down. They have caught up and are now looking fine

Lonicera purpusii fragrantissima

Not very photogenic but its gorgeous scent is very well worth having shortly after Christmas 
No flowers on Garrya elliptica

Last year the beast from the east ravaged a magnificent display of my best ever long dangling catkins which at that time we had enjoyed for ten weeks or so. It eventually regenerated with strong growing shoots and this Summer it escaped my over enthusiastic pruner (guess who). My reward has been zero flower production!
I conclude that in our long lasting drought new growth came too late and inhibited flower bud development. 

Before the 2018 beast
Heaven scent

Hiding behind the dead miscanthus top (which is now cut down)
Daphne Jacqueline Postill loves my sandy soil and has spread to make a very fine clump. We nearly lost it in the double Winter of 2010 and it took a couple of years to return to its earlier glory.
You would imagine from the prolific shoots it sends up from the ground that you could easily divide it. Not so, dug out rooted shoots usually look promising but eventually go yellow and die. I have succeeded only twice with two rather large pieces and now have three very fine  plants, one in a large tub, and all give gorgeous penetrating pink perfume January to March

Readers fail to identify daffodil but David steps in

Narcissus 'Rijnvelds Early Sensation'
Some of last years daffodils stood in flooded garden for three months in last years exceptionally wet Winter. They have not turned a hair and this year they are now emerging strongly. I had forgotten the name of my earliest variety and turned to daffodil expert David Willis and he gave me its name. You don’t see it in all the bulb catalogues but it is very well worth buying. 

Cutting back dieback on cut leaf maple
Every year my dormant cut leaf maples (and some of the dogwoods) show frizzy white dieback on young shoots. After last year's drought one plant  was particularly bad and I have ruthlessly pruned out some large pieces

Pruned out pieces
One shoot was showing severe dieback and coral spot had taken over
Should I take out the large piece on the left?
Quick flicks

Happy accident

Little things please little minds
Unfortunately this hamamelis retains its dead leaves


No reward for pressing this link to be the 10,000th reader about Garrya elliptica

Cut leaf maple can be difficult but is well worth growing

I wrote about my twin ponds last year

Although a large strong daffodil flowering in January might look out of place I love mine

Apologies for the glych I had publishing this post


  1. Well that's kicked off the calendar year. Always find your posts most refreshing.

    1. Good to know that a blogger such as yourself read me Mal

  2. Your garden looks interesting even in January, when I must admit most of the gardens I pass on my daily walk to the train station look rather dull and uninspiring.
    What puzzles me is that I have not yet spotted one single snowdrop or aconites, even in those gardens where I know I've seen them every year. On yesterdays long walk, we saw crocus and hellebore and even some primroses already in bloom, and a shrub that here is called winter jasmin also showing early flowers.

    1. Yes I have found the same, my own snowdrops are three weeks later than last year. I think the funny Summer has had peculiar consequences. It has been a mild Winter here and some plants such as Hellebors and Jasmine nudiflorum are well advanced

  3. I have planted quite a lot of Rijnvelds Early Sensation hoping to get some Spring Joy earlier than the main rush ... but they refuse to flower early-early. At best they are a week or so before stalwarts like King Alfred. Chums tell me theirs perform as expected, so no idea why mine aren't on time - they came from a reliable source, and they've been in several years - as I have read that first season they will do their thing, as flower bud already formed, but roots may well be hampered as all Narcissus are harvested, for sale, at same time and the really early ones will have already started off, so unlikely to properly fatten up in first year. Anyway, long-story-short, mine now have several years under their belt and still not doing the Early-Early thing. Sheltered spots round here already have Daffs in flower, but not me. I shall have to plant some, for picking, in the greenhouse.

    1. I suspect your reliable source is not so reliable. Bulbs I have bought in the flower markets in Amsterdam for example NEVER come true.
      Mine came from Parkers wholesale but they do not offer it now.
      I would say of all the bulbs I grow they are the most vigorous and reliable (sturdy medium height)
      They are miles earlier than any other daffodils I grow - this years are nearly fully open now- as stated the pictured ones were early February
      When I checked Rijnveld on the net google images showed loads of different forms - there is a lot of mis-labelling around
      Does yours look like mine?

    2. er I mean 'of all the daffodils I grow.....'

    3. Yes, you are right about any definition of "reliable" :) I should beg a few offsets from a friend who has them and plant alongside as a test, I would be gutted if mine are John Doe as they are planted in clumps intermingled with other varieties, to create an overlapping and continuous show, so would be impossible to either replace in situ. Mine came from Peter Nyssen

    4. get in touch in June if you cannot get any from your friend -I would be interested in the comparison and give you a couple

    5. That's very kind, thanks. I'll post a Photo of mine when they come into flower.

  4. Snowdrops and aconites out in Somerset...great to read what is going on in your garden. I had that pinky stuff in my pond one year in my previous garden, now I know I was right to have had a clear out. Always some interesting little snippets in your posts. Tips of my emerging shoots are being nibbled too.

    1. I try to put in useful snippets and am delighted when readers do the same Stasher. My one regret is how so few of you share your knowledge and experiences

  5. I look forward to seeing how your garden looks throughout the year. I can smugly report that our garrya is flowering well. Maybe the little narcissus was keeping it’s head down until it was sure the snail had gone.

    1. I am sure the snail looks very big to a tiny plant! and it does not need much scraping by the snail's radula to decimate it
      Congrats on the garrya


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