Now I’ve proved to myself that I can be wordless on Wednesdays, I no longer feel the need – I think I just wanted to prove that I could shut up… occasionally. Which is just as well, because today the weather is unbelievably bad, and any photograph reflecting it would just be of rain. Or mud.
However, there were some better days, and the essential solstice task is done, albeit a little early: the garlic is in. Germidor and Albigensian Wight this year.
Last year was such a bad one for veg, and my alliums – usually pretty good – were appalling, so this is not so much a triumph of hope over experience as a belief that last year was an exception. My glass is evidently half full, or at least it is now. I’ve not got any purple sprouting or kale in this year for some reason; perhaps I was half-empty earlier, disheartened by poor performance when I should have been planting. But one of my neighbours did give me some mystery brassicas.
Apparently the plants form heads. She’s Italian and described them as ‘sprouts’, then clarified herself when she saw my face (sprouts are the droppings of the devil – oh yes they are). They’re not sprouts, though they grow a bit like sprouts and not like the Russian kale the leaves resemble. I’m intrigued, and so keep checking to see if they’re doing anything. They’re not. Yet.
The bulbs, on the other hand, are.
It’s reaching the stage when you have to be careful walking over the meadow, but there’s just time for the final bonfire of the year – of the winter – which will take place on Monday. There are also some plants to go in (every good meadow needs a little editing), notably some teasels which are going to run along one edge. They look good and healthy,
which is more than can be said for the Salvia pratense seedlings. Those appear to be dead, but I’m hoping for dormant instead. The rest of the garden is certainly dormant, or nearly: there’s almost a sense of an intake of breath. It’s especially evident in the middle garden where there’s no sign of much actually happening, but a palpable sense of waiting. And then you take a closer look and realise that there are buds on the big hellebore, that there are tiny, tiny signs of bulbs (the meadow bulbs are always the first to brave the world), and that the most ancient of the rosemaries is just beginning to do its thing:
Down in the bottom garden, currently in training as a bog garden, there’s still a little colour in some of the Verbena bonarense heads.
Most, however, are brown and battered and while I had originally hoped to leave some of the seed heads on, I think I’d better do some tidying up. When I’ve found the thigh waders, that is.
The bed immediately in front of the house has much better drainage – well, it’s raised to allow for the slope and is held up at the front by a small wall – and still has some hardy geraniums hanging on. The last of the flowers went in the most recent cold snap, but the leaves of some of them have taken on a gorgeous orange glow. Very subtle, and I want to knit it:
They’re so velvety; I do love hardy geraniums. I’m not without discrimination, mind: some are thugs and I’m repeating my offer of G. macrorrhizum album plantlets free to good homes, or even horrible homes, come to that – and they repay affection in so many ways. Lovely flowers, great ground cover (did I mention I was prepared to supply G. mac alb?), and then beautiful leaves in autumn and winter. Wonderful plants.
One of my resolutions is to do more about encouraging birds next year (so maybe I should leave those seedheads on the verbena). I always used to have a garden humming with bird life, and then Next Door’s Cat found it. She seems to have moved on – both other neighbours and to rodents and other small mammals – so I’m tentatively hoping to attract some of them back. The wrens have returned, but the jackdaw roost in the tallest of the ashes is, I suspect, putting off others. This tree is being hacked back in the new year, so that may help – I’m hoping the jackdaws will move to a more attractive look-out once it’s much smaller. Or just move. But something has had a real go at the Rosa rugosa hips already. I could only find one that was untouched:
Most unusual for this time of year. I wonder if it presages anything significant?
(Apart from the alleged end of the world at the solstice, of course.)