The New Year has started with the weather conditions continuing in much the same vein as they have over the past few months with mild above average temperatures and mainly dry days. This has enabled us to continue the winter work uninterrupted by breaks for bad weather but the plants are starting to show fattening buds as they prepare for an early spring.
The first snowdrops were beginning to flower in mid December and by mid January the area under the crab-apple orchard was a carpet of white contrasting with the small deep red crab-apples hanging on the Malus above. The sweet scent of the Sarcococca in the Winter Border nearby hangs in the air of the entrance area, it always surprises me how strong the scent is considering how insignificant the flowers appear.
There is not a great deal of flowers to see in the garden other than the various Cornus mas shrubs with their clusters of small yellow flowers and the hellebores that are slowly coming into bloom. It is interesting to note that while most of the plants are looking for an early start to the year the Hellebores appear to have been waiting for some cold weather to trigger them into producing flowers and are starting later than usual.
Preparations have begun for installing a security camera with the concrete base laid at the bottom corner of the long mixed border to support a post and cameras to deter plant thieves and trouble makers. On a more positive note the new front gates have been hung at the garden entrance and are a vast improvement on the worn out old gates, thank you to The Friends of t Harris Garden for donating them.
Our volunteers have had another busy month Monica and Dave have almost completed the mammoth task of moving and dividing plants in the mixed border before mulching the entire border we look forward to seeing the benefits of their efforts this spring and summer. Next they intend to weed and woodchip the path along the back of the border and the new beech hedge.
The Thursday volunteers spent the first Thursday of the month pruning and tidying the Winter Border and clearing brambles from around the bench near the entrance gates before concentrating their efforts on the Autumn Border. Three Thursday mornings have been spent in the Autumn Border pruning back overgrown shrubs, removing dead and dying shrubs and self sown tree saplings as well as having a general weed and tidy including bramble and ivy clearance.
A second volunteer group is being set up to help in the garden on Wednesday afternoons and will be students interested in ecology and environmental projects. To start with they will be working in the conservation area inside the perimeter fence along Wilderness Road clearing up the cut timber and creating habitat for local wildlife.