This is the winter that would never end.  Never mind that it is spring according to the traditional and equinoctial calendars.  I have been walking around the Little Garden every day looking at buds on trees and shrubs, monitoring their progress.  I hope that when it does warm up it will stay warm and not revert to harsh, freezing temperatures.  That happened last year and it was fairly devastating to my plum and apple crops, and probably other crops as well that I didn’t even pick up on because the rest of the summer was so poor.

Flower buds of Chaenomels japonica

Flower buds of Chaenomels japonica

As I was going around looking at buds, I took a few photos.  I remember when I was taking a class on trees and woody shrubs at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Virginia.  We would have to identify plants by their buds – no leaves, no flowers, just a twig.  It seems impossible at first, but once you work with the plant a bit it does get easier.  The one area I never mastered was conifers – trying to distinguish between Thuja , Chamaecyparis, Cedrus, Larix, etc., made my head reel.  I suppose I haven’t worked as much with conifers as with deciduous trees and shrubs.  This is because conifers have not been as fashionable in garden design as they once were.  I have always hoped that they would make a strong comeback and will freely admit to having planted a couple in one of the Little Garden’s back borders.  One of them is a little Pinus mugo, which is among my favourites.  It’s a squat little plant, but that’s why I like it.  They can get quite large actually but it takes a very long time.  It adds such good structure and interest to the bed in the winter time.

Pulsatilla vulgarai 'Papageno' singing through the frost

Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Papageno’ singing through the frost

Speaking of winter time, that’s what I’m really supposed to be writing about – how cold it is, extended winter, want to stay in front of the fire, can’t sow anything.  I’m itching to sow more seeds but am hesitant.  Now that I am working full-time, I won’t be able to carry seedlings in and out, to and from the tunnel every day.  So if I sow too soon and it remains cold I will either get leggy seedlings because they have to stay in the house, or they will be stunted, stunned by the cold in the polytunnel.  It’s a bit of a juggling act, a guessing game.  What I wouldn’t give for a little heated glasshouse…

Becky, warm in her fur coat

Becky, warm in her fur coat

What I have sown:  tomatoes, leeks, scallions (my people call them green onions), chillies.  I’ve sown some flower seeds as well:  Cobaea scandens, Cerinthe major ‘Purpurescens’, sweet peas.  I have loads more to do.

Self-seeded Wallflower 'Blood Red Covent Garden'

Self-seeded Wallflower ‘Blood Red Covent Garden’

That’s it for now because I have to wrap up and go do some work outside.  Enjoy the pictures of buds and the few things that are now flowering.  Make sure to get out into your own area and have a close look at the new growth.

Next time… a new bed at the Little Garden.

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