The arrival of winter should surely herald hedgehog-like behaviour in all of us. We no longer shuttle too and fro from the kitchen garden to the house laden with gluts that we don’t know how to process fast enough, but rather wish to laze by the fire with a good book. Most flowers fade and plants start to shut down for the cold season ahead. But not so the intrepid gardener. At any given weekday nap time you can find me outside in the garden trying to plan what will happen there next year. A lot of the winter jobs are, in an abstract way, the most exciting. Our kitchen garden will hopefully enable us to be completely self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables in a year or two but we’re still very much in the planning process at the moment and it looks a little bare in places:The last month has seen us start planting for prettiness as well as for produce which is lovely. Our landscapers finished the sleeper “steps” on one side of our entrance (the other side will be done after we do some building work) and I planted hundreds of tulip bulbs underneath various “Champagne bubbles” Papaver poppies. It was a lovely way of spending an afternoon and I can’t wait to see the beds as of Spring when hopefully between the two types of flowers, we can expect about six months of continuous colour. I also planted a Creme de la Creme climbing rose next to the archway at the entrance steps that will hopefully smother the arch and smell beautiful whenever we walk into the garden.
We also had our landscapers plant some more 5m high semi-evergreen screening trees for privacy (Ligustrum Japonica) and we have starter interplanting amongst them to cover up our wire deer fence. They’re difficult to photograph!
The other beds in the kitchen garden that are being set into the ground rather than raised have been coming along too. The herb and tea bed outlines have been dug and the rosemary and lavender bushes that will line the fence (along with 23 Almond trees) have arrived.
On the other side of the kitchen garden the berry beds that will run almost the whole length are finally defined with gravel boards and awaiting a healthy dose of soil improver to make our horrible heavy clay workable so that we can start putting in bare root raspberries and currants and things.
Actually now that I come to look at it, an awful lot has happened on our smallholding! It’s just that it’s been happening relatively slowly and so I haven’t really noticed it starting to get finished, so to speak. What is really lovely is the thought that we’re finally getting close to being able to start planting properly. It’s been a long road to get here! The finishing touch this month (which no garden should be without) is of course a bench with some owls carved onto it.