Well, there’s definitely noticeable extra daylight in the afternoons now. You can still see what you are doing outside at ~4:30pm. It makes you feel like getting on with a few projects. So we made a start on some work in the vegetable plot today.
1) Replacing the wood for the raised beds
All of flooring timber used to make the middle four beds needs to be replaced. In the worst case (on the left), you can see that the wood has rotted away so much that it is no longer actually retaining any soil.
We’ve bitten the bullet and paid out for sleepers, because the boards didn’t seem to last that long (~5yrs). I’m slightly sad about it as I’ll miss the purple paint and fancy post finials, but I am already very happy with the look of the sleepers.
One down, three more to go!
2) Pretty Petticoats!
I have a wooden trough that sits on the pebbles in shade, next to my developing ‘fernery’. (Once again the wood involved is deteriorating to such an extent that it will need replace shortly). However, last year’s narcissus and iris bulbs don’t care about the state of the container and are re-appearing enthusiastically. In fact, the Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Arctic Bells’, also known as “Hoop Petticoats”, are already beginning to flower. Hurray!
3) Clematis urophylla
Last year I realised that our garden needed some clematis, most especially a winter flowering variety for early bees. We don’t have much vertical surface to play with though. However, a newly screened bin area gave us the opportunity to plant two clematis, one for winter, one for summer. This is the early flowering one: Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’. It put on a lot of growth through the autumn and winter and started flowering in November. I like to admire its glossy evergreen foliage as much as its delicate ivory bells. It’s already reached the top of the 2m trellis though, so I am going to have to start to encourage it across the fence.
4) A surprise!
Next weekend it is the RSPB Big Bird Count and with the increasing numbers of tit visitors we seem to be getting I have been wondering how best to go about counting them. When a flock swirls in, there are roughly a dozen each of long tailed tits, blue tits and great tits. Since they hop around all the time, it is hard to keep track of them, so I was experimenting with taking photos covering all the feeders at once. (The only problem is that at any one time there is probably the same number again eating seeds in the wisteria above.) Anyhow, whilst snapping away I suddenly noticed a flash of red on the furthest pergola support. Can you spot it showing just below the peanut feeder?
So I zoomed in and watched a Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) enjoy sampling both peanuts and fat balls.
He probably won’t appear next week of course!
5) Mini greenhouse damage – A mystery
I was shocked to see a rather large hole had appeared in the top of one of my mini greenhouses. They are not that old and stand next to the neighbours’ fence. I imagine some creature jumped down onto it and fell through. I can’t believe a squirrel would be heavy enough to break through the top, so I am blaming cats. I suppose that with claws out for the jump, they tore through the plastic on the way down. I can’t help hoping that the cat was as shocked as I was by the structural collapse! Currently the hole is covered by a taped-on sandwich bag, but I am obviously going to have to replace the cover … if I can find a match. Yes, it turns out to be a funny size!
6) Lighting up the room
This is the last Canna plant standing, at least from the seeds that I collected on our return visit to La Palma in the Canary Islands a few years ago. In fact, it’s a plant I gave to my Mum, but it got too big for her, so I retrieved it and am keeping it going. I nearly killed it last year when it got red spider mite that I couldn’t shake for ages. However, after a complete chop and a summer outside, it is once again doing OK. I brought it in for winter and this happened …
So bright and wonderful isn’t it?
Well, those are my Six garden things for Saturday. Hope you are managing some outside, quality gardening time too!
Six on Saturday is hosted by Jonathon, an inveterate propagator … and also runner. Check out his post and comment links for tons more gardening nuggets.
I guess the hole in the greenhouse could have been caused by the woodpecker if you had left food in the greenhouse… 😅 Joke. A squirrel is appropriate you are right or a cat with its claws. A tape to close now…. Nice narcissus!
😜 Maybe that’s why he is visiting the feeders now instead! Thanks, N. ‘Arctic Bells’ is my favourite colour for daffs.
We use scaffolding boards to edge our cutting beds, which have a good life – but your sleepers won’t need to be replaced for a long time! Good to see your bulbicodium reappearing – I always plant out the ones I have grown in the Coop, and this year I at least have some foliage, so perhaps I will have some flowers this year too! I have had similar thoughts to you about the Birdwatch, as we have had some thrushes around for the first time in ages…
Thanks for that idea Cathy. Where do you source the scaffolding boards though? Good luck with your Hoop Petticoats. Last year mine looked like grass for ages before throwing up plenty of flowers (much later than now too). Have fun with your Bird Count. I would love to spot some thrushes. They seem scarce this year (including the usual migrant redwings and fieldfares).
You can get scaffold boards from builders’ merchants – but just went to check with the Golfer and he reminded me that we didn’t actually use those this time but used timber gravel boards (used below fencing panels) which are very economical. We hadn’t had thrushes in the garden for many years until recently, so I was thrilled they were back and hope it wasn’t just a random visit…
Lovely to see your woodpecker and dainty daffodil. Well done in growing your canna from seed, those bullet- like seeds aren’t easy to get going. It’s a bother replacing the wooden edges in your potager, what a joy when it’s done. Mine could do with replacing too, but I can’t face it.
I’ve had good germination rates for Canna once I’ve clipped those ‘bullets’ with nail clippers. The problem is how many attempts at clipping each perfectly spherical hard seed it takes to nick the shell … and how much damage you fingers will take!! 😉
I have what I’m pretty certain is the same clematis as you, but either never had or more likely, mislaid the label. My recollection is that I bought it as ‘Winter Beauty’ but on a few occasions since I have seen pictures of ‘Winter Beauty’ and have begun to get doubts. I wonder if it might be C. cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’. It’s pictures like these on Taylors website that are fuelling my doubts: https://www.taylorsclematis.co.uk/clematis-winter-beauty.html
I am so glad you said this! I definitely bought as C. urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’ (from T&M), but when I was checking pictures thought the leaves in particular looked wrong. Different shape and different degree of delicacy … that’s also true for the flowers. So I’ve had a look at the images for C. cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’ now and agree that some of the pictures of it match my plant very well. Maybe I should try the RHS ID service? Have you ever used it?
Good luck with the bird count next week. Hope the Greater Spotted Woodpecker returns.
Thank you! Sadly, going on the woodpecker’s appearances in the garden over the last year I think the chances of seeing him next weekend are low.
I also brought a Canna indoors and am admiring its foliage, they actually make great houseplants! Love the flowers on yours. I recently replaced the cover on one of my mini greenhouses too, the plastic tends to weaken and disintegrate after 2-3 years but I do find the ones with green webbing a bit stronger. Love your veg plot layout and the sleepers look v good.
Canna leaves do look attractive and if it saves this plant I am very happy to bring it in. Last year I lost about half of the ones I stored in the garage. I think to sub-zero temperatures 😦 Interesting to hear your opinion on those covers with green netting embedded. They look tougher, so I am glad to hear it confirmed.
Awesome works 👌
Your veggie beds look so very neat and tidy, they put mine to shame. I hope your woodpecker returns this weekend, once they know you have food, they will return, I know mine will be there to get its peanuts next weekend, they comes lots of times, every day, they are so greedy!