Tuesday February 28th

Last day of February, today we were set to visit friends who required some help with their garden. However flurrys of snow yesterday have been replaced with a complete white out. Result everyones garden looks fantastic, covered in three inches of snow. Tonight we are set for sub zero temperatures. Don’t forget the garden birds in this terrible weather, fill up the feeders, and also make sure to fill the bird bath. We saw a strange thing the other day,a male siskin sitting on a tree branch with its head tucked in, suddenly fell to the ground. I took it into the house, no sign of any injury, it died about an hour later, very unusual thing to witness.All spring tasks are of course on hold at the moment.

Our Back Garden

Monday February 27th

Got up today with good intentions, still roses to prune, greenhouse to prepare for the seed sowing and one or two other jobs that I was going to attend to.However five minutes outside and that was enough today, far too cold, flurry’s of heavy snow and a biting wind. So today too much time has been spent at the computer. Never mind I finally got verified with another option for sending emails, something that I have been messing about with for six weeks. Only problem is all the emails that I sent with this system have finally reached their recipients, and they are all getting back to me very puzzled with the out of date news. Oh well you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Hope the weather is better tomorrow.

Sunday February 26th

In the twenty years that we have been in our present house, the amount of times that we have changed the layout of our patio, borders on the ridiculous. It started off with traditional flagstones. not very inspiring, so we went about creating this circular patio using decorative bricks with small concrete slabs shaded red and grey. we placed a sundial in the centre. It looked the part but a few years later we wanted more room for a larger table and chairs, so up came the bricks and slabs, this time to be replaced with the simplicity of buff coloured chippings, and what with the raised borders and carefully placed containers it did look fine, and also we had a proper patio set so we could have lunch outdoors on a nice summers day.

Well once again a few years later we decided that clearing leaves etc from stone chippings was not such an easy task so once again it was time for change. What did we decide on this time, well quite surprisingly, decking! We set about with our design which also included a pergola. The finished result was absolutely fantastic, four years later, well unlike some constructions which improve with age, decking takes on a tired worn look, and in the winter it is incredibly slippy. There will be no more changes, the power hose is coming out next month, and it will also get a coating of light oak preservative to freshen things up.

Our Decking Area

Saturday February 25th

Now is the time to start preparing the lawn for spring and summer. If your grass like ours has to put up with permanent shade in winter, the chances are your pride and joy which looks like a velvet carpet in summer can now appear to be rather sickly. Well mother nature will now take over and before long all will be well again. However its best if we lend a hand, start by lightly scarifying the lawn with a spring tine rake, collecting all dead leaves and debris that will have accumulated  Also raking up dead moss, you can be quite firm but not too severe as you do not want to cause too much damage to the roots. You can then spike the lawn which is of great benefit as it improves the drainage. There is a proper tool for the job, a hollow tine aerator  rather difficult to get a good quality one. More often or not a garden fork is used, just plunge in the spikes almost to full length and lightly pull the handle back and forth. Go over the whole lawn about eighteen inches apart  pretty tough on the knees so get the wife to take over half way through. A couple of weeks later give it a run over with the lawn mower, set the mower at a position where it won’t scalp the grass, and gradually lower the setting as the season progresses. As for feeding I prefer to wait until mid may, best results I have had is with Scotts Lawn Builder, available at your garden centre. Most important of all never forget to give the lawn an autumn feed, late September early October, you must use a proper (Autumn feed) it has all the proper nutrients. (Scotts now named Evergreen)

A Lush Lawn

Friday February 24th

Some twenty years ago,the terraced house we lived in had a rather small garden. Smaller borders meant we didn’t have the room for all the plants we really wanted to put in them. We compromised with container planting, which gives you the option to move those special plants around the garden, to either cover an area where one plant may have gone over, or to just brighten up spots here and there as the mood takes you. Also in your patio area where there may be no borders, container planting works miracles. Even now in spite of having quite a large garden, we would not be without our plants, in their terracotta  or clay pots, even some of those plastic containers which once upon a time we would have turned our noses up at are now doing quite a good job at looking reasonably authentic. And remember you don’t have to only use annuals. Hostas do particularly well in tubs, as does the many ornamental grasses available in your garden centre, one of those grasses a particular favourite is Hakonechloa, a variety which arches and flops like a wig. Remember spring bulbs do extremely well in pots. Agapanthus is another must, once they have died back in the autumn I prefer to over winter agapanthus in the greenhouse,just leave your plant in the pot, and come late spring place it in a sunny spot in the garden. For most of your container plants use a mix of a good quality general garden compost mixed with John Innes No.3 and also a good helping of horticultural grit. I am particularly fond of B&Q own general compost. For Camelias and Rhododendrons use ericacious compost only.

Hakonechloa Macra Aureola