Monday 30 December 2013

Winter work

Artemisia lactiflora 'Jim Russell'

Eryngium cv.
For the past few weeks a succession of storms has lashed the British Isles from one direction or another, with or without much rain and causing varying degrees of damage and flooding. In this area we have been lucky to escape without too much of either but the wind ravaged the standing perennial stems in the garden, leaving most stripped and far from upright. I have written before (13 December 2010) of my struggle to like the fashionable habit of leaving perennials to stand through the winter and, although I keep trying, the longer they hang around the more irritated I get with them. With the wind having wrecked most of what charm they had, I took the opportunity of calm sunny days this weekend to get outside and raze them to the ground - a very satisfying operation, and to my mind, greatly enhancing the garden's appearance. I also had time to break out one compost bin and start mulching the border, another pleasing task with an attractive result. As always, though, there won't be enough to do the whole border, but the other bin will at least enable the patch visible from my study window to be done properly.

The  main border after cutting-back and partial mulching.
Before Christmas I was also able to take advantage of a couple of reasonable days to make progress on the pathways defining the lawn and the gravel beds made in summer. This entails reshaping of the lawn and the drive border, which both need further work, but the coarse flint-gravel path is now in to define the shape to work to. The gravel bed looks a bit barren at present but is full of bulbs and alpines that should perform well next year - many bulb noses are already pushing up promisingly.

A work in progress: the gravel bed for alpines and small bulbs (created in summer), with gravel paths around it and reshaping of lawn and border edges.
Winter-green perennials are seldom commented on but are important garden constituents. This is Geranium robustum.


  1. Dear John
    I wish you a pleasant 2014.
    Often I am a guest in your blog but usually I don't leave comments as a lack the time. But anyhow I'm looking foreward to read it in the comming year.
    Thank you for all the informations.
    GrĂ¼ess Pascale

  2. Hello John,

    It was funny reading about your struggle with standing perennial stems! I know it's terribly annoying when they flop over before supposed time. I actually enjoy the winter look of perennials a lot and try to add good performers (standers, if you will) to my schemes. Some grasses, drumstick alliums and echinaceas can create amazing winter displays. Additional snow only adds interest!
    Kind regards from Estonia!


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