Hope you all had a great Christmas, we certainly did, spent a few days with family in London.
We travelled by train as Myra does not enjoy flying, well not by aeroplane. Woke this morning to sub zero temperature, well pleased that I had the car in the garage.
Started off at eight thirty this morning to collect Purdee our cat who had been sent to her country retreat for the holidays. Driving was a little precarious on the icy roads, but fortunately majority were driving with care, overtaken by a couple of idiots, you know the type that has that driving ability that is superior to everyone else.
Hogmanay next, mind you that will be a quiet event in our household, very unlike the celebration we would have held many years ago. I don’t usually mind the winter, but after the very mild Autumn, and also November and early December being nothing like as cold as usual, this freezing weather is not all that welcome.
On the long train journey to London and back home again to Aberdeen, a bit of book reading was in order just to pass away some time. Something I do not do enough of, on this trip I read a novel by Jeffery Deaver called The Vanished Man, definitely worthy of recommendation. I will not go into detail, but it is about this great magician and escapologist who becomes disfigured result of a fire, and unable to perform on stage he turns to murder in a bid to get revenge.
This will be my last entry of 2006, I look forward to continuing again beginning of January. Next year I will not strive at an entry every single day, instead I will have a preference to continue at a level of three entries per week. Have a good New Year, I will talk to you soon, cant wait to get back into the garden again.
Hard frost is holding in, the garden is now so thick with it, appearance is almost as if we had a moderate snowfall. Mind you a five minute walk from our sleepy hollow and I find the sun has melted the frost.
Only last week I mentioned how the Violas in the front garden were blooming as well as I have seen them even in Springtime, now they are curled up, brittle and look as if they could not survive.
Surprisingly Violas and Pansies come through this and go on to flower very well, until replaced with the Summer bedding plants in late May early June.
When the temperature gets as low as this, it is unwise to walk on the lawn, I have ignored this advice in the past, usually to fill up the bird feeders. I have to say with regret, for when the frost lifts you are left very often with brown foot prints on the grass, full recovery of the lawn after Winter is tough enough without this additional damage.
The bird feeders are now placed where I can reach them easily from the garden path. Remember to clear ice from your bird baths when it gets this cold.
Last week I noticed the first of the Daffodils popping through the soil, time for them to slow down again, although no harm ever seems to come of them.
After the new year as soon as the temperature starts to rise a little whether it be even for a short time I will be out there getting some work done, not so fond of this idle lifestyle, well not for too long.
Roses Jacques Cartier arrived today, fortunately the weather is still ideal for planting. Previously I had prepared the bed where these three roses were intended for. Looking for a good display in Summer from this much loved variety. I have praised Jacques Cartier before in previous entries, so will say no more today.
Still looking for an early flowering shrub to brighten up that border. You will not go wrong with Chaenomeles, coming from China and Japan. This one cultivated for their flowers which start to open from late February and continue into Spring. White, pink, and red, single and double cup shaped flowers adorn this plant of which there are many varieties to choose from.
Also known as Quince, yellow to green or purplish green fruits ripen in Autumn, only palatable when cooked. One favoured by many is (Chaenomeles Superba Crimson and Gold) Sounds more like a description of a plant, but that really is the name of the variety, and I must say describes it very well.
Crimson and Gold is a compact plant, reaching three to four feet in height dark red flowers with golden yellow anthers adorn the bare stems in late Winter and early spring. The flowers are very striking and have an almost unrealistic appearance as if they had been stuck on by someone trying to add interest to an otherwise dull border. The shiny dark green leaves open in Spring partially hiding the flowers prematurely.
Fully hardy, grow in moderately fertile soil in sun or part shade, flowering and fruiting is best in full sun. Can be trained against a wall, or grow as a specimen shrub, or even a hedge.
Looking for another tree with Winter interest. You will not go wrong with Corylus (Hazel) Grown for their late Winter catkins and of course the hazel nuts in Autumn.
The one in our garden Corylus Avellana Contorta (Corkscrew Hazel) or (Harry Lauders Walking Stick) is already starting to show its yellow male catkins. They will continue to develop throughout the Winter, Contorta however is grown more for the interest of the strongly twisted shoots, which are seen to be of great interest in winter, and also useful in flower arrangements. Fully hardy, growth is slow, most likely not exceeding twelve feet. Does well in full sun or partial shade. Look out for suckers, easily recognised as these will be the only straight stems, simply cut them off at the base.
(Maxima) this cultivar, an upright shrub or tree grows to around 20ft, expect a good crop of Hazel nuts from this one, also ornamental in late Winter with a good show of yellow catkins.
(Purpurea) Purple tinged catkins in late Winter followed by dark purple foliage, hazel nuts in Autumn. Purpurea is best in a sunny situation, also grows to 20ft making it ideal for the smaller garden.
These days we have to consider very seriously the security in our home and even our garden. I have known of people having their bedding plants dug up, must be for selling on, as I am unable to imagine anyone getting pleasure from plants which were stolen from someone’s garden.
Not so much we can do about security in our front garden, however if you wish to deter intruders from getting into your property from the back, here is an idea that may help.
Remember in days gone by when you would see dykes with broken glass cemented in to the top, fairly spoiled our fun when we were kids and wanted access to somewhere where we knew that we should not be. Well we are not allowed to do this now, mores the pity. Mind you some shrubs are so thorny and impenetrable it is worth considering this as a barrier.
Here are two of them that would do the job more than adequately.(Berberis Thunbergii Atropurpurea.) A deciduous shrub with dark red/purple foliage growing to around 8ft tall, very ornamental in appearance. This one has sharp spines on the stems, which makes it impenetrable even when the leaves come off in winter. A dwarf variety is available, so make sure you do not choose this. Fully hardy, grows in any reasonable well drained soil, sun or partial shade. Powdery mildew can be troublesome some years, however permanent damage does not occur due to this. A row of these planted a few feet apart would help secure your property.
The other shrub, much loved by the police force up and down the country is (Rubus Cockburnianus.) Related to the common bramble this is a thicket forming Deciduous shrub with beautiful yellow fern like foliage. In summer purple saucer shaped flowers are followed by inedible black fruits. Arching prickly shoots have a brilliant white bloom in Winter with deep red thorns which give an ornamental appearance much loved by garden designers.
The vicious spikes on this shrub will take care of any foolhardy burglar. Eventual height of this one is also about eight feet. The white stems in Winter are shown off to their best advantage planted in a sunny situation. These two plants offer gardeners a bit more than security alone as they also look good.