The exceptionally mild winter weather finally ended at the end of January and the start of February saw the country enduring a two week spell of freezing temperatures and some snow. There were still plenty of jobs that could be done even though the ground was frozen.
I am pleased to be able to tell you that the new gates at the entrance to the Harris Garden have been installed by the guys from our FMD maintenance department and they look very impressive.
The spring bulbs have put some colour in the garden this month with the ground under the crab-apple orchard being the main focus. The snowdrops have lasted really well this year and have been joined by Crocus and daffodils. Other plants flowering include a couple of Camellias and the two early Rhododendrons in the woodland.
The weather conditions gave me a chance to continue clearing brambles in the woodland glades particularly in the area where the Pittosporum, Daphne and Halesia are situated. I spent the best part of a week wrestling with the giant climbing rose that sprawled all over that group of plants and cleared the brambles and other tree saplings that had also invaded this space.
Our Thursday volunteers proved to be a hardy bunch continuing to come every week despite the cold snap. On the first week of the month they replaced the fence along the rear of the new gravel garden area, planted a Magnolia donated by The Friends for Jenny Halstead artist in residence who came in to record the planting and other works being carried out. The second Thursday was the coldest so the new herbaceous borders were dead-headed and tidied. With the weather warming up a little the third week was spent completing the herbaceous borders then cutting down and planting in the prairie garden, also rotovating the cleared ground in the autumn border.
The last week of February was Student Volunteer Week so on the Wednesday afternoon it was planned to plant wild flower plugs out in the meadows. Unfortunately the weather was horrible, wet and windy, and only two turned up so the Thursday group completed this task the following day and planted three little oak trees near to the groups of fruit trees.
I have spent much of my time this month working on the stream to improve and refurbish it to bring it back to its best as I feel it is one of the main features of the garden. I have added a mulch of compost to the plantings on either side of the stream after weeding the ground and have built up the banks where necessary. All the little waterfalls on each pond needed resetting and cementing in so cases I have raised them slightly to improve the level of the pond and I have replaced the pebbles in the stream bed. I am very pleased with the results now that the water is flowing again and cannot wait to see the stream in all its splendour when the plants have grown in the spring and summer.