Complacency has caught me out and the cold has come to bite me. I can hear Jack Frost cackling in the trees. The Chiltern Hills are elevated enough to mean that snow has remained powdery and soft; the temperatures resting below zero all week with not a breath of wind to disturb the flakes. This week’s intense sub-zero temperatures have probably killed some of my plants, even some tucked up in my greenhouse. Here’s some winter beauty combined with some bad garden housekeeping on my part.
The main section of my greenhouse is unheated and nighttime temperatures below -4 tip the internal temperature below zero. I knew this but had failed to check with the forecasters just how cold it would be this week. The next morning I discovered permafrosted pelargoniums and a few other lovely plants damaged, possibly beyond rescue. This includes a rather lovely Aenoium which now has the appearance of a jellyfish stranded on the beach, each of its fleshy leaves frozen solid. What is frustrating is that I only needed to move it a few feet into the little heated section, which had room for just one more plant.
Gingers and Cannas
The gingers and cannas also look bedraggled but should be OK as they are potted in dry compost which will have insulated the roots. These should sprout fine again next spring.
The lucky ones
In the small heated section, the lucky plants bask in the heat. I say heat but conscious of heating costs, I’ve tried to keep the electric blower calibrated to keep the temperature just enough to keep the plants alive but no more. I’m feeling guilty about how poor the insulation is and I need to improve that. The Red Banana, ensete ventricosum, is now of such stature that I would hate to lose it. The same goes for the Giant Taro, alocasia macrorrhiza, which like the gingers and cannas could be allowed to die back in dry compost but which is so glorious in its breadth now that I’d rather keep in going all winter if I can.
Plants that laugh in the face of frosty Jack are the alpines in the troughs and rockery. They don’t like winter wet and would rather be tucked up under a duvet of soft snow. I love the little hummocks of white they create.
These plants have such an exotic look but are hardy. They look fantastic in the snow.
This male blackbird became extremely bold as it sat in the cherry tree and watched me replenish the bird feeders. I moved around gently but was still surprised by how placid it was just a metre or two away from me. Given how busy the feeders have been, I set up a second feeding area with extra seeds all over the ground for the birds that would rather hop out from cover and feed off the ground. The berries of my cotoneaster tree are being stripped bare and have proved popular this week with the blackbirds and redwing.
This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday. For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host Garden Ruminations.