Bip bam bop frost

Galanthus Brenda Troyle
Galanthus Brenda Troyle

More gardening observations have passed on by as I’ve been too lazy or busy (depending on your perspective), to write anything down over the last few weeks.

January brought flooding in the garden and then two nights of -8C (only -8C I hear some exclaim!) it’s certainly sorted the tenders out.  I figured things’d be OK in the unheated greenhouse which dipped to -5C (laziness again). The Pitcairnia certainly took a big hit (OK so it comes from tropical South America) as did the Aeonium (although there’s one in reserve in the conservatory). Outside the Lobster Claw which survived last winter hasn’t this year.

I thought I was being clever digging and potting up some Galactites tomentosa Alba and putting them in the coldframe. This attractive annual thistle doesn’t reliably survive the winter as seedlings outside, they didn’t survive in the coldframe either. I’ve had to buy some more seed from Plant World seeds.

With the frost the lusty foliage of Zantedeschia Luzon Lovely was felled and Crinums collapsed in slimy heaps, but all should be OK underground unless we have more concerted harsh weather.

Spring is gathering at a proper pace

Currently the wind is whipping across the garden and the sun has come out (crocuses will be beaming). It feels more like it should for February – I know it’s only the 1st today.

I did a 100 mile round roadtrip from Wiltshire to Oxfordshire today. Early plum blossom is dusting the treescape, briefly softening the still stark woods and hedgerows. Snowdrops are emerging and starting to make themselves known although I admit there are many well advanced daffodils for this time of year. In my garden though daffodils seem to be on the ‘normal’ schedule.

Three Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were chasing each other raucously through the garden and drumming. Robins nit pick at each other asserting their territories. Birdsong is building in complexity and volume

Road kill and the plight of small mammals

So far Red Kites haven’t got to us but on a road near Wantage today 5 or 6 had spotted roadkill and were circling, a big bird took off from the road in front of me flashing its rusty feathered rump.

Barn Owl in flight with prey
Barn Owl (sorry Chris Packham not up to your standards!)

We’ve been lucky over the last few weeks to see a Barn Owl. We’ve had them before but only passing through (or across) the parish field. A few weeks ago it spent an hour from around 3:00PM to 4:00PM quartering the field, perching, dropping, quartering again. It caught at least this one small critter. Since then it seems to come through around 4:00PM but moves on.  I’ve seen it in the half-light at 7:00AM and flying in misty rain. Presumably there’s not enough food about?

Last week our wildlife cam showed us two young deer, a squirrel and a fox’s brush disappearing off into the darkness as well as two beaglers (during daylight), there was, I must hasten to say, no link between fox and beaglers.


I can’t help it (well I could but…) I’ve been busy ordering plants which one could also call lazy – my seed sowing is fairly dilatory and plants I do have sit waiting to be potted on in the conservatory. And still I buy more.

Recent purchases include some hardy orchids from Laneside Hardy Orchids; Panicum North Wind and some other plants from Knoll Gardens and potted alliums from Beth Chatto for a vaguely Oudolfian scheme being planned, plus a clutch of unusual plants from Crug (with a little help from Robbie Blackhall-Miles). Last night I discovered a new fuchsia supplier Other Fellow Fuchsias so have dipped my toe back into fuchsia waters this year (which’ll be at the expense of dahlias).

Meanwhile in the conservatory

kalanchoeKalanchoe in Ski yoghurt pots (and spider plants), memories of school fetes from years past. Who’d a thunk they had flowers like these?

No idea which they are. This large orange flowered one has variegated foliage. It’s been in bud for months and has just started flowering now. It was out against a south facing wall all summer.




Kalanchoe in flower


This one arrived free in a pot of cactus courtesy of the North Devon Cactus Society when they had a display at RHS Rosemoor a couple of years ago. It’s one of the one’s which produce mini-me babies all along the leaf edges so it gets everywhere. What elegant flowers and unusual colouring.


I was just thinking to myself that the chickens haven’t escaped their enclosure for a long while – guess what? Gawky is out! Chickens!