The winter list (and a spring surprise)


Every year (OK, for the last few), I get organised. After the great meadow strim P and I walk round the garden working out what needs doing, and draw up the winter list.

winter gardening

It’s all those jobs which have probably needed doing since the previous Christmas, but which have ‘somehow’ not quite been done. It inevitably includes things which didn’t quite get done last year (‘paint trellis’), or indeed the year before that, and things which are, frankly, optimistic (‘bramble remove’) or somewhat vague (‘move slates’  – which slates? – and ‘repair pigsty: ???’).

It’s divided into the three areas of the garden, and is followed by a list of plants. That’s because winter’s a good time to sort out what needs moving and work out where it can possibly go (quite apart from to the dustbin / compost / neighbours), and then there’s the problem of remembering exactly what ‘get rid of that horrible thing by the hedge’ meant. But it’s mainly the structural jobs which get done in winter, apart from weeding of course. We’ve rebuilt steps, dug new beds, erected standing stones and laid paths. This year it was repair time.

The rowan, which had to come down after the January storms last year, ripped apart the wall above which it grew. But we never quite got round to sorting it out – partly because there was a heck of a lot to do at the time, partly because the storms didn’t let up, and partly because once they did finally stop all the bulbs came up and started flowering. So all of last year I lived with a wall leaning outwards at a dangerous angle, entirely held in place by ivy – except when it wasn’t and stones came crashing to the ground.

Now I have this:

new wallwhich comes complete with a convenient shelf for a cup of tea or a pair of secateurs. And, yes, that is the rowan stump – it’s staying put. I can’t get a digger into the garden.

There was a heck of a lot of rubble, some of the little double daffs had to be replanted and I doubt that my chionodoxas will be as spectacular as normal this year, but it’s done. At last. And we found an old bakelite top for a Pan Yan pickle bottle (c. 1920), but that was the extent of the archaeology.

I’ve also now got  a dug-out greenhouse. I should explain – there is virtually no flat ground in either the top or the bottom garden, and the middle one is iffy. The greenhouse had to go in the bottom one, so P had to dig a base into the slope, which he did. The high side was held up with a mini dry-stone (OK, dry-sort-of-stone-brick) wall, which over the years has gradually slumped against the glass. At the back of the greenhouse a prostrate rosemary was so determined to get in that it broke the glass. It needed tackling…

greenhouse wall

So P demolished the old wall, cut the bank back, rebuilt it as a stepped wall – that should be much better – and dug out the back. I’ve now got what remains of the prostrate rosemary in a  pot, but it’s looking seedy. What a shame. Oh dear. Bechod.

What with all of this (most of which has been done with me watching due to bronchitis, but hey ho), I almost forget to look out for lovely things as well. Just round the corner, I have the first wallflower:


Right, that’s it. It’s clearly spring; I can put the winter list away!

(Plus the garden is suddenly full of snowdrops and crocuses – watch this space…)


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    That looks a satisfying list, with lots of things crossed off – even if the the remaining things on it have been there for ages! Hope you are nearly over your bronchitis – I am sure you didn’t really want to be standing around while P did all those heavy jobs 😉

    1. kate says:

      Damn, you got me sussed – and I thought it would just look like coincidence, getting the timing right….

      It’s reaching the silly stage now, when all the left-over jobs require a degree of warmth and it’s almost snowing outside. Marrow-chillingly cold; just as well I’m still holed up.

      1. Cathy says:

        I wonder if you got any snow yesterday – there were times yesterday when it felt close to snowing here… Rain and some hail today, so only short rambles in the garden and back to warmer tasks inside 🙂

        1. kate says:

          It’s bitter as all out today…

          Not really snow, but it was cold enough. Mind you, once the curtains were closed it did sound as though we were getting everything thrown at us (or alternatively that the house had cast its moorings and was rounding Cape Horn). So we could have had anything. No way I was going out in it!

  2. croftgarden says:

    How organised. My list of tasks is so long it would take all day to write out and would then be either buried on my desk, abandoned in the shed, polytunnel or the pocket of various gardening jackets and only emerge ready for next winter. The weather is still foul so my autumn and winter lists have now merged.
    Do like your greenhouse wall and I hope that you are starting to feel better.

    1. kate says:

      Now that is exactly why a more organised approach to the list was deemed to be necessary – I make endless list, but then I lose them (they’re a great thing to do when there’s an iris bed to be weeded).

      VILE weather here too. Occasionally looks good, tempting you out, then you realise it’s actually the frozen pit of hell. Can’t help thinking of all the previous occupants of this cottage who had to rely on the ty bach (the outside loo). Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

  3. Helen Johnstone says:

    How satisfying to get these jobs done. My son incorporated a mug space in the wall he built me behind the newish bench, it is very handy.

    1. kate says:

      I think the mug space is inspired – must be contagious! It’s only been there for five days and it’s already become a place to put all sorts of stuff – string, seed labels, mugs, cake plates… er….

  4. Anna says:

    Oh lists are so satisfying Kate and the older I get the more I find myself relying on them 🙂 Hope that you are on the mend. Bronchitis is most nasty 😦 Is that a collection of pelargoniums in the greenhouse? They look most colourful whatever they are. I like the snug in the wall.

    1. kate says:

      Well spotted! It is indeed a collection of pelargoniums – they’ve been doing quite well until now (one of the jobs for this morning is to check them over), but it’s so bitter at the moment I’m not sure how many will survive.

      Must make this morning’s list – quite lost without one (apparently I used to make them when I was about six – pity none were kept!)

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