One of the results of the mixed up weather conditions of this winter is that Daffodil ‘February Gold’ is actually in flower here in the first week of February. Since I planted the group of bulbs under the Bushey Grove apple trees, and in my previous garden, February Gold has been determined to flower in March so it is pleasing to see it live up to its name. The primroses and a couple of flowering cherries are also out and along with the witch hazels, hellebores and snowdrops there is a fair amount of bloom in the garden to brighten any dull day.

I have begun working through the borders cutting back last years herbaceous growth and pruning some shrubs, it’s fair to say my winter list of jobs to do is longer than my winter list of jobs done, probably always the case at this time of year but if I finished everything there would be no need for a gardener!

I was having a discussion with a friend about the difference between soil structure and soil fertility and said my aim here was to vastly improve the structure of the soil by adding as much garden compost as we can and avoiding too much walking on bare ground, whereas fertility is much easier by feeding with any garden fertiliser. I likened structure to a victoria sponge which should be light with lots of air spaces which falls apart if you over-wet the mix and then stand on it (well this was after a few beers). It still amazes me that after covering the bare ground with a thick mulch it only takes a couple of years for the earthworms to work this all away underground. Another pleasure for me is a few rich red flowers appearing on Salvia gesneriiflora growing in the conservatory, a monster of a plant from Mexico which was not identified when I was first given a cutting 2 years ago.

I’m now looking forward to some warmer and drier weather when I might see a few more of you up here in the garden.

The title is a song from a 1957 film of the same name originally sung by Johnny Mathis but covered by Nina Simone and the recently departed David Bowie. 

February 2016