The last mow of the year

A sunny and cold start today, we are going to have a week of this sort of weather; freezing at night and not much more than 3 Celsius during the day. No chance of digging over the vegetable garden just yet; it’s frozen solid. So too the water in the troughs in the courtyard. I was trying to pick the leaves off the protective layer until I realised they were iced in.

I started the day by picking up the leaves in the courtyard to warm up. Luckily there doesn’t seem to have been much wind in the past few days. The leaves just plummeted from the tree directly below. It made picking them up a lot easier. And I had a haul of seven bags.

Now I could have just hoiked them onto the compost pile, but having read so much about the wonders of composted leaves (wait two years) as a soil conditioner I have decided to go down the patient route. The trick is to hide them. And they are a bit exposed right now. Curse winter for exposing all the -bones- of the garden. I will either have to plant a large patch of Euphorbia here, or just get on with the shade garden plan and put the larger of the shade loving perennials in front of the bags.

I found some frozen raspberries up at the top potager – quite fun to eat them cold, and brought down some red curly kale for lunch.

Spent a bit of time putting up some bubble wrap in the potting shed; some of the stipas are a bit wind blasted but they haven’t suffered as much as I feared. And I managed to try and put up the pictures more permanently. Staple guns so much fun.

Need to plant some bulbs. The ground is defrosting and when the sun comes out it’s lovely.

I am waddling like the Michelin man: too many layers. But deserving of lunch. I have planted two New Dawn rose bushes; one in the artichoke bed and the other just under the down pipe (broken) at the edge of the house. Hopefully it will grow up and around the corner of the house and meet the other New Dawn roses on the west side. One of the bushes is still flowering which is not bad for this time of year. And hopefully the scent will be more apparent as they get established.

I also put in thirty narcissus bulbs just in front of the potting shed. (Had to remove one of the bright blue water troughs to plant them. But that’s fine. The blue bins are such a garish unrelenting colour they really won’t fit in with any planting scheme.

The sweet peas are coming up well: a bit spindly in the low light, but at least they have germinated.

And I may even mow the lawn after lunch. It’s dry enough to work now. And it will be the last mow before spring. Here’s hoping I can a) get it started and b) not get carried away. There is a vegetable garden to dig over – I keep re-iterating that.

Oh yes, and I planted three more thyme shrubs in the path down the steps. More challenging as there are plenty of rocks on this side. But when you have a mania for symmetry, then the path is crying out for more thyme. And they were only 2 euros each at Jacquet. Half the price they are in the summer. I guess everyone thinks you are mad to plant in this cold weather. Hah.

Excuse me while I attend to our radiators. They shudder and sings merrily and you have to catch them before they all set each other off.

So here it is. The mower started second go, and went like a demon down all the lawns. Took ages, but it’s such a pleasure (if you discount having to stop and empty the grass catcher all the time. I’m not strong enough to un-wrench the blade attachment and put on the mulching mechanism, so I have to keep on with this rather laborious task).

And there are two parts of the garden where the new lawns are -taking- well. I sowed a lot of grass seeds around the soft fruit bushes. You can almost see the join between the turf path and the newly seeded bit, but it’s a close thing. Very impressive work on the part of the grass. And who would have thought that the -piano- lawn would have seeded in that rain last month? Almost a green sward.

And to finish the day I went up and applied yet more shrouding to the shed. It blows a gale in there and we have about three more days of frost predicted ahead. But when the sun shines its bliss and if all goes well I shall try and dig over parts of the vegetable bed tomorrow. (Promise.)

But before I went in, I had to take a picture of the Agastache dying so elegantly in the garden. Why it-s positively Piet Oudolf-like having plants like this backlit by the afternoon sun in winter. It will make a New Planting Style gardener of me yet.