December is not really a month for the garden considering how many other diversions there are in the run up to Christmas and truth be told not a lot to look at in the garden these dog days of winter either although the gardening writers who have to fill a column would tell you otherwise … well they would say that wouldn’t they with a deadline to meet !
I am not a great believer in standing around freezing my ass off admiring this or that plant that happens to flower at this time of year and I don’t have many such plants growing either as I believe flowering shrubs and plants are best admired with a bit of Spring , Summer or Autumn weather about .
That is not to say that I don’t have plants or shrubs in flower at this time of year as the vincas are flowering away like mad as are the winter pampas and the viburnum tinus and there is still structure in the grasses but in this garden we concentrate on bark for our key winter colour such as the white of the silver birch jaquemontii , the golden bark of willow and the red and yellow dogwoods and while naturally I would like to have lots of camellias for flower in February but our wettish soil here does not suit them and those we have planted in the woodland areas don’t do well and rarely if ever flower because the soil there is not only too dry but the conifers have sucked all the goodness out of it … when I look at our camellias I see sulky children unlike those exhuberant creatures in my gardening friends gardens !
Winter for me is about giving the garden a rest and tidying up in time for Spring so I devote December to February to cleaning , hard pruning and weeding furthermore a few weeks ago I was laid up after a hernia operation caused by heaving heavy pots around in Croatia last May and had to take things easy for five weeks … hurt like mad … worse than child birth thank you for asking !!
Snezana however was busy during my enforced absence from gardening jobs and with her chain saw went through the cornus beds like a bat out of hell and then moved on to massacre and coppice the willows right down to the ground … it got to the stage I was afraid to walk down the garden in case she had enthusiastically laid into the silver birch or the hydrangeas !!
As soon as I was back on my feet I was able to help out and together we tackled the stream from the natural well which had got overgrown over the years and flooded out of it’s natural bed … we got the channel deepened and soon the water was coursing in full flow and by Spring the wet areas around the cleaned stream should have dried out .
I am delighted we got this job done as I had it on the long finger for the past few years on my own and delighted also to be back out working in the open again after a period of moaning that a hernia op is the worst ever … a man hernia that is !
It is not an easy collaboration though as she just loves to cut stuff … shrubs , willows , cornus’s to the ground with an airy “ they will grow back better ” whereas I want to channel her ambitions to areas that I select for cutting and while she understands ( at last !) or pays lip service to why / when and where you prune / cut back hard she still will go rogue when I am not there keeping an eye on her hand of God progress through the garden … like for example today when she cut down a whole stand of red dogwoods that I had selectively pruned last year and they were just growing back nicely with long whips of red bark when BANG they were now on the ground … a huge hissy fit from me ending in her threatening to record on her phone my next river dance in the garden and put it on the blog as an example of what SHE has to put up with … might not be a bad idea as it would show what I HAVE to put up with !!
It is an established scientific fact that trees communicate with each other through an underground network of fibres especially in times of stress either though lack of water or when predators are about so I can imagine the frisson of fear that goes through our garden when Snezana strolls down with her chain saw although as she only goes after willows I suppose they realise it is for their own good ?!
Last month’s visit to India is still very much on my mind and none more so than our visit to Udaipur which is a city in the North West close to the Pakistan border , built in the 18th century by the ruling Maharaja in an area of many lakes and which has fabulous gardens notably the famous Sahelion Ki Bari which in English means Garden of the Maidens as it was originally built as part of the dowry for his wife and her 48 lady attendants to relax in away from the politics of the court , our tour of India was whistle stop due to the amount of ground covered in 12 days but this was one place I could have relaxed in for a few days and I hope the following photos do it some justice .
Experiencing the friendliness of local people throughout our trip was a highlight of India for us
This man and his two little daughters were visiting a Hindu roadside shrine near Jaipur .
Every day in India brought a new highlight and a private visit to the family museum in Agra of the Kohinoor Jewelry company produced a unique memory when the Head of the Mathur Family , Ghanshyam Mathur , during a talk to our group asked Snezana to model the 17th century jewels of Mumtaj Mahal for whose memory the famous Taj Mahal was built .
And finally from us to you A VERY HAPPY 2018 !