I hope you are all safe and well after the ‘blizzards’ of 2017, but lets be honest, I put more of a sprinkling on my breakfast cereal in the mornings than what we had here in Coggeshall. I am not exactly a fan of ice and snow as I am sure many people with outdoor jobs would agree, but it does mean that I have an excuse to huddle over the radiator, shut all the doors in the potting shed and write this months blog.
It has been a quiet few weeks here, having to get back into routine after the holiday season is never easy, especially as there isn’t much to be done in the gardens at this time of year. Our time has mainly been filled by tidying the nursery, including; washing the poly tunnel and cleaning / disinfecting all of the pots of which there are thousands. I have also been allowed to venture out of the 4 walls and spend more time in the Arboretum with the rest of the team; completing log orders, helping make our Winter walk look its best, washing birches, thinning out bamboo and picking up endless amounts of leaves. However February is now here and the first signs of life are beginning to emerge.
Sowing Sweet Peas
As with all of my seeds I usually do them in 2 batches. As they are hardy annuals I prefer to sow my sweet peas in Autumn and over Winter in the cold frame which provides some protection, this way they have a chance to become more established and flower earlier.
Pruning in late Winter, means not only is it easier to see what we are doing as the leaves have dropped, but doing so when plants are dormant invigorates new growth ready for Spring. Obviously it is usually weather dependent, but we prune in February with the hope that March will be kinder. Here at Marks Hall time is always against us, so we prune in February no matter what the weather and although we have never had any problems doing so, I would recommend waiting until there is a sign of better weather to come to prune your own garden.
Summer flowering trees and shrubs, fruit trees and roses can all tolerate being pruned at this time. Here is a list of plants from the Walled Garden and Coach House Garden that we will be pruning during the month; Vitex agnus – castus, Teucrium fruticans, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’, Rosa, Sambucus, Cotinus, Abeliaand Berberis.
A large proportion of our time in February is spent seeing to the many grasses in the Walled Garden. For more information on how to best look after your grasses at home look out for my ‘Step by step guide to ornamental grasses’ page which will be available soon.
The white carpet of Snowdrops will be beginning to show in Robins Grove in the coming weeks. So make sure you come and visit this beautiful display. Our woodland walk consists of a mixture of single and double flowered snowdrops, including varieties such as; Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ and Galanthus elwesii.
We also look after many more varieties in the nursery stock bed that we are slowly propagating and hoping to introduce to the woodland over the next year, including my favourite Galanthus ‘Hippolyta’. Also for the first time this year we have been busy growing hundreds more Snowdrops as little gifts for those who complete our children’s trail, so don’t miss out!
Left: A row of Galanthus nivalis ‘Viridapice’ starting to emerge in our stock beds. Top right: Galanthus ‘Hippolyta’. Bottom right: Children’s trail snowdrops slowly coming along in our polytunnel
Check back next month to see what we will be up to in March, any questions please comment.