I woke up this morning to the hardest frost of the winter so far but this was in stark contrast to the weather we’ve had the rest of the week here in Wales. A mild and sunny week tempted me out into the garden to tackle the dead foliage and seedheads that were starting to make the garden look a bit messy.
As I worked my way around the garden with my secateurs I could see the effects the mild winter has had. New buds and shoots were emerging all over the place. As I pulled out old Alchemilla foliage, patches of snowdrops appeared. Clumps of daffodils were discovered, along with the first signs of one of my favourite plants Dicentra spectabilis alba. A tiny blue flower had been encouraged to open on Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’, there were shoots of Gladiolus communis byzanntinus and Nectaroscordum.
Mmmmmm…. this all felt too early. Much as I am eager to see the first signs of growth I was looking at the plants and telling them it was too early. Do other people talk to their plants? I know Prince Charles does but it surely can’t just be me and His Royal Highness. Anyway perhaps I got carried away just like the plants and I should have waited a little longer to start the tidy up because some cold wintry weather has arrived and I’m now worried the plants will suffer. In effect I’ve taken away their duvet and then left them to fend for themselves.
The early flowering plants will be fine. They have adapted to cope with the fluctuations in weather that happen as winter passes into spring. It is the later flowering plants that have been encouraged into early growth that I’m worried about. But as a gardener you just have to learn that there is little you can do about the weather and that plants are often tougher than we think. Some plants have proteins in their cells that act as antifreeze protecting them from harsh winter weather. And if I hadn’t tidied things up I would have missed out on these little beauties….