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The Garden in January 2010
Full moon setting over Hankelow at dawn on New Year's Day 2010January 1st: New Year, Full Moon

Happy New Year!  We woke this morning to a crystal clear sky just before dawn and temperatures down to about -6c. The full moon was just setting behind the ancient Oak trees that edge the pasture behind our garden creating a magical effect in the frosty air. No gardening today the ground will be solid and no chance of a thaw over the next few days.

Snow on Euphorbia x.pasteurii on 6 Jan 2010January 6th Snowy Scene

We are quite lucky here in South Cheshire as it seems that most of the snow has missed us. Last night we had a "sprinkling" just setting off plants in the garden nicely in this mornings sunshine.

We're now a couple of weeks into a cold snap and whilst we are a bit fed up with not being able to do anything in the garden, we are far more weary of TV news over hyping of the weather and endless reports from snowy roads. Since when was ice or snow in January "severe weather"?



January 8th Just too cold

Minus 14C this morning. Far too cold despite the winter wonderland of frost on trees. 

Whilst we will probably lose some plants the winter cold does result in improved flowering performance in many perennials as the dormant buds need cold to make them develop properly - a process known as vernalisation.

Every cloud has a silver lining perhaps.


January 20th Voles

We all love feeding wildlife in our gardens and in this extra cold weather many birds and animals are kept alive by our intervention. Our garden Robin comes down to me each morning and evening to cadge a bit of our duck's food. 

However I do draw the line at the local voles and field mice feasting on the leaves of newly propagated plants in our cloches and coldframes. Today we discovered trays of young Centaurea plants nibbled to the soil. The little blighters had even had a good nibble on some Heleniums I'd propagated recently which must have been quite harmful to them. 

These small mammals like to feed in the cover and security of a coldframe away from cats, kestrels and owls so its worth keeping an eye on your plants each day and if you don't like the idea of traps etc you will have to move plants they have a taste for.  We find placing pots on a tray raised from the ground on smooth 5 litre plastic pots are enough to keep them at bay. 

Actually for some plants like Geum and Geraniums a little nibble by a vole in winter before new growth starts helps tidy plants up in preparation for spring. However, these little critters just don't know when to stop!

January 31st:

I always leave the seed heads on my Giant Spanish Oats, Stipa gigantea, until about mid February as they always look good. Today they held drops of melted snow and caught the light of the sinking sun (16.30 GMT) like beads of shining crystal - magical!

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