Tuesday 26 February 2019

My garden in February

Extreme pruning, a dramatic way to prune

Unwanted demolition
I promised to tell you what happens in my garden. I did not expect this.
You might know that automatic cars propel themselves forward (and in my case backwards) without using the accelerator. It’s best to have a driver.

The chip van comes to the village on Thursdays. At six in the evening I was to make my weekly contribution to the table by driving down.
It was dark and after a a decent day a frost had suddenly descended. Not that I had noticed.
Lights on, into reverse, window wipers previously left on swiped a frosty window. I am always so careful not to activate stuck windows! Minor panic. I hop out of the car to scrape the screen.
The car starts to move! In normal circumstance I could have swiftly hopped back into the car (not that I make a habit of these things). Unfortunately as I lurched back to the car I slipped on the frosty surface and fell horizontal. 
As I desperately stretched my arm to push down the foot brake the ascending momentum pushed it away.
Peter tells me that the car will achieve 4 mph without need for the accelerator and it was now moving away. By the time I had got to my feet it had travelled a meter and into its stride (as if cars stride)
I am note sure I would have caught it had a wall not got in the way.

The front garden has a dwarf wall. Much of it is covered by euonymus  and looks and is clipped like a hedge. The car was determinedly grinding through it when I caught it and turned off the key! The card had travelled fifteen metres. It was rather miraculous it had not scraped the house (nor knocked it down)

Visitors sometimes have difficult reversing. The car went all this way on its own  
I have pieced this together. I was all in a daze. We got no chips that night, nor could I have eaten anything at all. It was only two hours later that I found I had a bump on my head. Next morning I realised my wrist was sprained and it was all of five days before I discovered three glorious black patches at the top of my leg.

As to the wall we lost a yard and will not replace it. The euonymus was crushed but still standing. I anxiously await its regeneration and have straightened and strengthened it with bamboo canes. In ten weeks there will little sign of my misdemeanour (I hope).

Don’t ask about the car! It was quite a mess but fortunately only at the rear left hand corner. Everything still worked albeit substantial bodywork needed fixing. Peter came to the rescue to seal up the broken glass light cover just above the severely dented corner. He has wonderful thick broad water resistant sellotape which he buys from East Riding Horticulture to seal up his large poly-tunnel.

Bye bye old friends
The golden metasequoia has been replaced with griselinia
Unfortunately many trees outgrow their position. I take the ruthless approach that it is best to remove them before they become a real problem. I am rehearsing my justification for brother-in-law Dave’s next visit. He is sentimental about trees  — “ …..and of course I will plant some more….” 
I am sure he will bang the table.

The golden dawn redwood had grown almost two metres last year alone and had given us twelve years of pleasure.

The copper beech was lovely and had been brought as an eight foot self sown sapling fifteen years ago from Bolton Percy cemetery garden where even then it had outgrown its position.

Paulownia and copper beech in late April 2017
I have hopes for the Paulownia. I read that in its natural habitat it suckers up after forest fires and as every gardener knows when cut back on an annual basis it makes prodigious new growth and magnificent bold leaves. Apparently paulownia is one of the very few trees that photosynthesises by the super fast  C4 carbon pathway which has had so much publicity recently with regard to crop breeding.
The ironic thing about my tree was that the potentially magnificent blue hollyhock flowers escaped April cold only once in fifteen years - and no-one looked up to notice.

This arrangement did not come up to muster and 'management' decreed the griselinia be planted elsewhere
Most gardeners will tell you that it’s a good idea to plant a sweet smelling Winter plant close to the door. Brenda goes further - very much further.
Every special plant I have should also be close to the door. If I took notice of her the rest of the garden would be empty.
I do accommodate my dearest by growing several plants in tubs that can be trundled out in season

The scent of sarcococca is so strong it pervades the whole garden - but the boss does not like it
Bits and bats
My spellchecker has dubbed this the iphone plant! It flowers profusely in red, white, pink or blue from February to April

Hamamelis, the witch hazel
Now a distant memory from the start of the month

Cyclamen coum
This has done particularly well in this mild Spring - particularly where I have naturalised it in fescue grass elsewhere

Scilla bicolor
This much overlooked bulb naturalises profusely when it seeds itself all over. This morning I watched a butterfly, honey and bumble bees flit from plant to plant. It was quite charming to see the delicate stems temporarily sway over as the bees alighted

This hardy cactus has thrived outside for five years now

I have had trouble with machinery before

Cyclamen coum has been superb this year

Only if you give ipheon a good start will it thrive in your garden

This is one of several posts on growing cactus outide

Naturalised bulbs seed all over

Ribes laurifolium can be a bit tricky

Late addition
Peter Williams came up to take a picture of Rijnveld's Early Sensation. It has already been in flower for four weeks. It seems to me that in the cold early season daffodils last longer

Peter has fallen in love with this variety. I have promised him a few bulbs
Nor could he resist the bee swinging on the tiny flower


  1. The moral of the story is “Make your own chips!” Glad the you were relatively OK. We have the same sarcococca in a pot on the patio. The perfume does seem so strong so I wonder if it needs to be in the sun to activate the perfume.

    1. Thanks for the good wishes Sue. I knew you would fine a moral to the tale
      All my sarcococcas are in light shade - by accident more than design but all are profusely perfumed.Brenda would say overpowering!

  2. Our Christmas Box is by the front door on the south side of the house and the perfume can be quite overpowering but I would not want to be without it. The bees love it to, Hope you and the car soon recover.

    1. I think it is one of the best scented shrubs around
      Both me and car mended

  3. I went over to your link for ipheion. I have Wisley Blue. I had at one time Rolf Fielder but for some reason it did not persist like Wisley has. However, this year it looks like one of the clumps has shrunk somewhat. I'm not sure what the problem could be.

    1. They do vary in vigour from one variety to another -my blue one is a little less vigorous - but since I wrote the post it has come out into beautiful flower. For what its worth mine seem strongest when the drainage is really good

  4. Oh my, that must have been a scary incident - and painful, too. Glad nothing worse happened!
    The "iphone" plant made me smile. And I so love the small scilla! We had blue scilla in our garden when I was little, and I have noticed a batch growing along an otherwise ugly and unremarkable footpath off the train station on my way to work.

  5. the 'I have had trouble with machinery before' link doesnt go anywhere (just like your driving)

    1. Thanks son
      No we don't drive much these days
      but see what you mean - will correct link thanks

  6. 'we don't drive much these days' - thats the joke!


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