|~ Not unlike icicles - the winter catkins of Garrya elliptica ~|
The forecast threatened to thwart my first proper day back at college (we sketched at the V&A museum last week) but most of us made it so we were able to go out into the gardens for the plant walk and take notes with freezing fingers in falling snow. The Capel Manor gardens are closed to the public in the winter so it's a privilege to see some of the glorious winter colour and shapes that would either be gone or be overlooked by the time the gardens reopen. Walking around yesterday the class stopped by a holly hedge in the Which? trial gardens - I couldn't help but notice the fantastically fairytale twisting branches of the hazel hedge behind it. Elsewhere a bank of dogwood stems of various colours and snow-crusted sedum heads looked stunning against the snow but I couldn't stop to take a photo as the class had moved on. Here's the hedge though:
I'd love this in the veg patch gardens, I imagine it would make an excellent windbreak in summer.
Doing this course and being obliged to go outdoors and look at the same garden every week regardless of weather, has sharpened my awareness of tiny seasonal changes and how plants react. Instead of hibernating with my summer garden plans, I'm out in the veg patch gardens thinking about how best to use what I've learned to improve the way I grow things. The big pre-Christmas assignment on All Things to do with Soil has provided plenty of food for thought and this term we're studying botany. That doesn't mean that I'm not also using my time to plan what to grow this year - my newly bought seeds are up on my Pinterest page '2013 Veg Garden' ...
... with last year's seed box still to be sorted through. The British gardener is a triumph of optimism over adversity but I have resolved to try and keep things fairly simple this year, growing stuff that I know will work well (herbs, squashes, unusual tomatoes, beets and beans) so that I can concentrate on digging up another long border to have a flower cutting patch. That area will also include a few edibles such as my globe artichokes 'Violette de Provence', grown from seeds and currently in deep pots, and Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis 'Rubra') as it's a plant that falls between two camps being both ornamental and edible!