A Gardener’s Diary – 2nd March …

March already! The weather does not seem to think so and is continually exposing us to freezing winds, significant rainfall, oh yes, and the odd day of sunshine. Even snow.

The lawns have spent seemingly weeks under inches of rainwater. Continually falling on sodden ground and slow to drain away.

There are however, reassuring signs that spring is on its way. Resilient as ever, the snowdrops, planted in-the-green last year and a hope that they survived, did indeed return to brighten these dark days and lift our low spirits. Snowdrops were followed by dwarf iris and crocus. Blue’s, yellow’s, purples and orange. Sprouting through the lawns, and from pots where they have whiled away the many months, hidden, as COVID was covering the world, only to reveal themselves ready for the early bees and to bring some natural joy to our days.

The garden is also encouraging the daffodils into flower. Dominant and tall narcissus, together with the smaller, dwarf tete-a-tete. Colour is well and truly returning. Tulips are forcing through, and in the coming few weeks will be joining their neighbours the iris Picasso in a glorious display of colour.

Jobs to do are plentiful. Resilience is needed now to encourage us to get outdoors in such awful weather to tend to those jobs we keep putting off due to a false justification that they will wait until a better, drier day. That day seldom comes and when it does, we would have left those incomplete jobs too long. Start by doing just five minutes. I know it takes half an hour getting all the kit together. Secateurs, rake, spade, hoe, fork, loppers, mulch, compost, cuttings bag. Dressed in wellies, new waterproofs, gardening gloves and Tilley hat, I do step over the threshold. It’s freezing cold, the family watch from the warmth indoors, raindrops running down the windows.

First job is to pull up all the dead sodden crocosmia leaves. Already this years new growth is pushing through these dead leaves. It’s going to be a messy five minutes …..

Two hours later, I call it a day. I’ve cleared. I’ve pruned, I’ve edged and I’ve divided. Tomorrow will be another day 🙂

4 thoughts on “A Gardener’s Diary – 2nd March …

  1. What a brilliant description of your gardening efforts!

    I have had the same window cleaner for 15 years, and to make a little extra money, he will do some heavy work for me in the garden. (I can no longer tackle heavy work since I pulled muscles in my stomach during the summer 2020 laying a paved area. Bags of cement and sand, plus slabs were too much for a lady OAP, said the doc, and I had to stop thinking I was super woman!! lol)

    Well, the window cleaner came on Tuesday and after cleaning the windows he did an hour in the garden for me, pulling up crocosmia, pruning the large hebe, and lopping back dead Vervain, (verbena officinalis).
    Like Marc and your wife – I watched from the, now clean, windows!


    1. I’m so sorry to hear that you injured yourself laying a paved area Sandi. In fact, knowing that you did do this, maybe you can help me. I’ve never yet paved an area, or mixed up mortar for repointing garden walls, even laying new brick or stonework. Though I have watched the tutorial son YouTube, and tips you can give me I would be grateful for. I need to set about some work this year. How wonderful to have a window cleaner like that. Funnily I was only recently talking to my wife about hiring some gardening support. You know how it is with available gardening time whilst also supporting Marc. Maybe I need to follow your lead and find a helpful pair of hands – and back! Even Monty Don has two full time helpers at Longmeadow 🙂

      I note that you have said you have pruned back your Hebe, is there any rules to follow? I need to cut back one of ours, but I heard they do not respond well to it. I was hoping to raise the canopy on this particular one and maybe you have a technique I should follow.

      Take care Sandi, enjoy your day 🙂


  2. Oh, I am not Monty Don level, just an interested gardener. Ten years ago I almost lost my hebe due to frost, I cut it almost to the ground, and it survived, It is now almost eight foot at the back, where I can’t reach as it is outside the fence, but about four foot under the bird feeders. I always prune it with secateurs, and cut back to the height I want just above a double leave joint, as you would prune a rose. That way you are not cutting the leaves, which I think makes it unsightly, and also can let in bacteria. The stem is much more resistant to bacteria than the leaves so I have read.

    Now as to laying paying slabs – I had a very practical dad who wanted a son!

    Years ago I could lift the 2 foot square York shone slabs easily, but the new area I laid two years ago I bought 18″ sized, as I thought that would be easier. (It was until I did something stupid the day after ,whilst the muscles were still tender and possibly tight!)

    You need to flatten the area, and pack it with hardcore if wet and clay. Then cover the area with sharp building sand to pack the area completely level. At this stage make sure with a spirit level that there is a slight slope away from any area you do not want to get wet, ie, lawn. You need a slight slope so water does not stand on the slabs. When I had the new area done two weeks ago to put the new shed on, the guy who did it had all the tools. He brought a proper cement mixer. I usually buy a bag of ready to mix cement. (Can be expensive but if the area is not too big?)

    All I do is tip some into an old bucket and mix to the required thickness. (Don’t mix all at once)
    Depending on the use of the patio you are laying, and the size,, you can cover the whole area with cement – for heavy duty areas but expensive – or just five large dollops, one in the middle and each corner. Wet the back of the slab before you put it down to give the cement chance to set well. When done, brush the dry cement mix in the gaps around the slaps, gently spray with water to rinse the cement mix off the slabs but not out of the gaps, and let the moisture set and seal them.

    Keep off for at least 48 hours to allow the cement to set firm.

    Sorry – I seem to have gone into teaching mode! lol

    Good luck – and a young, fit, but trusted gardener is what you need for the heavy work.


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