Sunday, 18 October 2009

The winter garden

It's that time of year again, when my thoughts are turning to the garden in winter.One common phrase bandied about at this time of year is "putting the garden to bed for the winter" - doesn't happen here!! There are living things all year round in my garden ( and I suspect in everyone else's.....) Although the leaves are falling fast now, the fleeting fiery colours of autumn almost over, there is still colour in flowers and branches, grasses, rosehips and raspberries, sloes, leaves of perennials. There are still lots of vegetables growing too - leeks, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes,sporuts, chard, broccoli in the vegetable garden, plus the very last of the potatoes to lift, just a few, but they all need to be recovered or the crop that follows on will have little tatties in amongst it. A garden is a constantly changing evolving entity, and it never stops, and certainly not for the winter. Even with this apparent winding down, nature is at work under the soil - spring bulbs will be stirring very soon. The greenhouses aren't empty and lifeless either - they will soon be filled with overwintering things that need a degree or two of shelter, plus sweet pea seeds sown, onion seeds soon, autumn-sown broad beans.
Animal life is about too - lots of birds, various rodents, insects; also human life. I am out in the garden every single day - livestock needs to be attended to, washing put out and taken in when the weather is suitable, veg dug up for suppers and winter soups, things cut back, raked over, cleared, greenhouses checked for emerging seedlings and open and shut for ventilation, dog walked around when he doesn't feel like going too far in the wet and cold. Hazel to be coppiced this winter too, which is quite a thrill for me, the first time! Even in the depths of winter, the evergreens are beautiful, with or without a coating of frost or a dusting of snow.
Lots to watch too - wildlife, especially the birds - time to get the feeders out and washed ready for filling very soon, and one of the bird tables needs mending.
We went to the garden centre yesterday for a few bits - first time in ages, so that was nice. I bought some new bulb vases for indoor hyacinths, crocus bulbs to stud the grass in the orchard, some autumn crocuses which really need to be put in today, bundles of wallflowers wrapped in newsprint, big fat garlic bulbs for dividing and planting into newly enriched soil, soon to emerge as tiny shiny shoots, so tempting for the birds to tug away at, likewise the overwintering onions, and the spring cabbage plants that also need to be planted out today.
Indoors, constant reminders too - seeds to sort, dry and store, label and share with friends; seed and plant catalogues arriving daily, full of wonderful inspiration; magazines and books to catch up with, dreams to be dreamed...........
It's cold here today, but I'll get outside later and get on with things I hope. There's always a lot to do at every time of year - one of the pleasures of gardening is that it's constant; observation is a big part of it, so even if I only go outdoors to observe and see how things are doing, then I'm making full use of the garden in all seasons. Lastly, ofcourse, there is the possibility of a covering of snow to look forward to and the magical muffled silence that it brings.
So, no "putting the garden to bed" for me here - it works just as hard in winter here as it does the rest of the year, and I feel priveleged to be able to watch and work in it all year round.
I must remember to bring those pumpkins in too..................

1 comment:

thesnailgarden said...

I know what you mean, lots of gardening going on here too. Off to the allotment today to sow broad beans and to do the weeding. The weeds don't seem to want to be put to bed! Best wishes, Pj x