Emerging from hibernation

Regular readers will know that I have nothing good to say about February. So I usually say nothing. But three days of sun have tempted me out of doors.P1010455

There’s now enough  power in the February sunshine to melt the top layer of frost within minutes.  As the sun eats into the shadow of the trees, the frozen moss turns green. You can watch it happening. But it is still winter. Nothing much is growing, and just as well. In this part of the world, premature warmth is fatal, as we found last year.P1010452

Still, in the south-facing gravel in front of the house the occasional species crocus and anenome blanda have decided that they are warm enough to flower. This gravel should be a paradise of early bulbs, but moss, mice and the creeping clover decimate their numbers, and, of course, I forget to do anything about renewing them.
The February task is to clear the winter debris. It’s astonishing what nature discards over the winter. Huge numbers of birch twigs; dead silver poplar branches, the remains of the primulas, iris and crocosmia. Most of this stuff can be picked up, ripped out or snapped off. But not euphorbias. For reasons best known to themselves, dead euphorbia stems arre fibrous and tough, and have to be cut individually with secateurs. And when you have large patches of e.griffithii ‘Fireglow’ to cut down, it does the back muscles no good at all. I try to remember the pleasure this plant gives me in high summer – but it’s hard.
At least all this stuff burns – quickly and easily. It would take an age to rot down in compost, but the ash can be dug directly into the vegetable bedsP1010461.

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15 thoughts on “Emerging from hibernation

  1. Welcome out, Kininvie, missed you! I was just wondering this morning how you were doing, as I wandered around desultorily picking up similar dead branches and twigs from all over. I don’t remember ever having enough wind this winter to shake them free, but there you go. Maybe they shivered themselves loose. My cold Wiltshire clay is great for snowdrops, is your yellow stuff the same?

    • Hi Minety, It’s my fault, but I’ve never really learned to love snowdrops. I prefer to stay in hibernation until crocus time. So my garden has only a few patches of snowdrops, which now and again I regret, but not often!

      • When I say ‘great’ for snowdrops, I mean I couldn’t stop them if I tried. They wander round the garden of their own accord in clumps and drifts, single, double, tall, short, and I know I never planted any. It may or may not be true that the Romans introduced them to Britain (why would they do that?) but Minety was certainly a Roman habitation in this very Roman area of the country. (I do like them though -snowdrops, I mean.) Can’t wait to see your crocuses….

      • When I say ‘great’ for snowdrops, I mean I couldn’t stop them if I tried. They wander round the garden of their own accord in clumps and drifts, single, double, tall, short, and I know I never planted any. It may or may not be true that the Romans introduced them to Britain (why would they do that?) but Minety was certainly a Roman habitation in this very Roman area of the country. (I do like them though -snowdrops, I mean.) Can’t wait to see your crocuses….

  2. I was just doing the same thing. I don’t burn stuff though. Some woody stuff I make into bundlings of kindling, the rest goes into piles behind the back fence. It does break down … very slowly.

  3. Welcome back out of hibernation, have missed your posts! We too are still clearing away the detritus from last autumn, the grass has been so sodden we just couldn’t work from it until now. Slowly one bed at a time is beginning to look presentable and we are discovering loads of plants struggling for the light. Stay warm by your bonfire!

  4. Welcome back from hibernation. 🙂 There is warmth in the sun which is so welcome but spring still feels a while off, even here. It’s surprising though how the first flowers can fill us with hope again.

  5. I have never really minded February too much until this year and now I am well and truly fed up with it. Even some of my daffodils seem to be stunted and there is no sign of my Anemone blanda at all.
    I am desperate to get on outside and I am sure that here in the Midlands the weather is normally warming up by now

    • February in Scotland is a brutish month. It is just so long ago that the garden was worth looking at or thinking about. Yet I know that the slugs are already out there, nibbling away at the delphinium shoots under the surface of the soil….

  6. One good thing about frost on the moss, over here in Bearsden with a heavy clay soil, is that a light scarifying removes most of the stuff, it always comes back but this is a good time to get rid of the majority of the creeping nuisance, if only temporarily.

    Winter debris is a big headache in the gentile suburbs where burning is frowned upon, I’ve collected 4 green bins full over last weekend and will probably do the same again this coming one.

    Keep posting please, you write so well.

    • Ah, if you saw the amount of moss I have, you would give up all thought of scarifying! – there’d be nothing left. I long ago resigned myself to a moss lawn with just a little token grass.

  7. Hi mr K! I’m glad to see you back in business after the hibernation.
    I can’t imagine a drift of euphorbia griffitii Fireglow, you shall post some pics of it when it’ll be time. I love euphorbias but in this garden for some reason they don’t grow. In my previous garden I used to pull away euphorbia characias from every corner, it’s sad to think about that, now.
    I loved the picture of the ‘melting’ moss, it’s very curious!

    • I’ll certainly send you a picture of ‘Fireglow’ when the time comes. Euphorbias do well here – at least the big ones that like it wet. The Mediterranean types (I seem to remember pictures from that walk you went on last year) naturally enough take one look at the climate and despair. I’m sorry they don’t do with you – they would look so good with your grasses. Have you tried e.palustris? It’s very tough, and seems to flourish in places where I never expect it to.

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