|The Garden in January 2012|
Our (so-called) spring flowering Geums have been in flower throughout the winter and have kept a good deal of leaf. Whilst this is welcome, it concerns me that they may not have had sufficient rest this winter and the spring show will be affected. Last years display was beyond compare and went on for a spectacularly long time. I don't know if this was due to the cold winter or the early warm spring. Let's wait and see what happens this year.
Plants' flowering can dependent on length of sunlight, average temperature and others on length of winter cold. For those that need winter cold (termed "vernalisation") it is the tip of the new shoot or bud that requires exposure. In these cases mild winters, excessive mulching or leaving old foliage in place can reduce the amount of exposure to cold and therefore delay or reduce flowering.
Likewise, some seeds require a period of cold to breakdown chemicals in the seed coating and allow them to germinate. This prevents them from germinating straight after falling to the soil in summer. Janet sows these seeds in late autumn and leaves the seed trays outdoors over winter.
A really good guide to germination type is on the website of the Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society Website. Some of the instructions can be daunting e.g. : "Sow at 20c of 6 weeks, then 4c for 6 weeks then gradually raise the temperature to 10c". But if you think about it this an artificial version of those experienced by summer produced seed: falls to ground and stays warm, winter creates cold conditions and then the soil slowly warms in spring.
and evergreen Day Lilies
In normal winters in our part of the UK its difficult to distinguish the difference between evergreen, semi-evergreen and dormant day lilies as the cold weather in early winter normally kills all top growth regardless of type.
This year, however, the evergreens have kept their foliage, albeit becoming a little damaged by the frosts we've had since Christmas.
There is no difference in hardiness of the three types, just remember to clear away frost damaged leaves on evergreen types to avoid rotting at the crown.
This weekend was the RSPB Garden Birdwatch. Actually a quite time for birds in our garden over the weekend. Cold and murky today. Birds seen in our garden:
Robin, Wren, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Song Thrush (heard before dawn singing at the top of his voice) Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Starling, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare.
Wheeling overhead (and therefore not counting) were a pair of Buzzard and two male pheasant just over the fence in the meadow behind us.