January and February can be dismal months if you love gardening. It is often cold, wet and increasingly squelchy underfoot. Even the bright, dry days can still leave you slipping and sliding around the garden and create an even longer list of path and lawn repairs once the weather dries out properly.
However, this year marks the beginning of year five in our house (and garden) and big plans are afoot. We moved here in December 2016. Progress in the house has been slow and steady but in the garden, other than digging some vegetable beds the first spring, we haven’t moved on much from the existing structure and mature shrubs and trees that were here already.
As with all mature gardens that have been left to do their own thing we have have lots of work to do! Many of the established plants have outgrown their space and while the flower borders have some real gems that come up year after year there are some thugs that have taken over far more space than their worth. It’s time to start redressing the balance. And moreover, making a space that provides more natural habitat and plants for pollinators.
What is good in the garden right now?
The berries on the Pyracantha shrubs along the boundary are picked over by the pigeons and blackbirds, it is really funny watching them trying to balance and reach the berries. Crocus come up in a small area of lawn, planted long ago, we just make sure the grass is cut short before the winter so the flowers can be enjoyed. We have added crocus and dwarf dafodils to the rough grass at the bottom of the garden, we call this area the ‘wild patch’. As I looked today not many have flowered this year but I can see snakes head frittilary coming up through the grass so maybe we will have some flowers here later. The Mahonia with its insignificant yellow flowers but beautiful lily of the valley scent is drawing in the bumble bees.
There is also a small patch of snowdrops and primroses coming up through a separate area of lawn – these haven’t done so well this year, maybe because we didn’t keep the grass as short here as other areas. The final treat has been the blossom coming on the blackthorn which has been left to grow more into a tree than a hedge along the boundary.
I definitely need to plant some other early flowering plants to bolster the appeal to bumble bees. Do you have any recommendations? What is good in your garden right now?