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18/02/2016

Elma Family Garden Kitty Photography Pip

The pocket handkerchief garden in winter

18/02/2016

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

For all my grand plans of the Autumn, it turned out that just as joining a gym can convince your subconscious that you’ve actually got terribly fit and healthy so you don’t ever actually need to go, writing a blog post about winter gardening plans will shortcircuit your plans to get out there and actually do it. Also, it rained. A lot.  I don’t mind gardening in the heat, or the snow, or the wind, or the cold, but I draw the line at rain.

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

And so the garden sat and waited.  The onions and garlic that we planted in November broke through the soil, tiny slivers of green reaching up and out to whatever sunshine they could find, but with them came the grass, and what does rather look to be a row of tulips, despite my being certain that there were no tulips planted in that bed for at least the last couple of years. I suspect a squirrel.

And in the other bed the Autumn leaves made claim to being an unintentional mulch, blown up around the strawberry plants like a dusty scarf, while a single row of surprise daffodils danced bright and fresh in the wind.

It was time to get back out there.

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

My eldest two assistants came for a bit, and having successfully weeded only slightly more grass than onion stems, retreated back to the warmth inside, leaving just a snow suited Pip and me to enjoy a blast of fresh air.  Together we pulled up the rest of the grass from around the onions, determined that this year at least they’re going to have all the space they could possibly need to grow (last year they got somewhat abandoned and I think a little choked by grass). The red onions and the garlic have come through beautifully but we’ve had a lot less success with the white onion in the middle section. Hopefully they’re just going to turn into massive onions, village show winning style.

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

And when we took the covers off the other bed, and pulled out the bean vines Pip discovered that we had the perfect spot for a little digging.

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

So we settled into a happy rhythm; he shovelled and dug holes, and tried to eat the soil, and did all the sorts of things that babies should do in mud, and I worked down the other end, clearing leaves, picking all of the rest of the rainbow chard (which we rinsed, then wilted and fried in butter for lunch – yum) and replanting some of the strawberry plants that I’d lifted from what’s now the onion and garlic bed.

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

The blackcurrant bush has new shoots growing from last year’s pruning, and I’m pretty sure I need to do some more ‘I hope this is right’ pruning to help it fruit so I’ll need to find the label or look it up online.  And when the daffodils have finished I’ll lift the bulbs to give the currant a bit more space, they’re just too pretty and bright to move when we’ve still got a while to go . This is going to be entirely a soft fruit bed; the blackcurrant, the strawberry patch and for the spare space I’m thinking of either raspberry canes, or just possibly a gooseberry bush – I love gooseberries and the prickliness would definitely put the cat off!

And then I’m planning for a bed I don’t have yet, but probably ought to send H and the children to acquire over half term.  Carrots, parsnips, beans (whatever last year’s were, they were yummy), and peas, because there’s nothing better than eating peas straight from the vine.Space for the Butterflies - Winter gardening

But for all the fun of planning out our garden, I think the very best fun was just being back out there in the sunshine; watching Pip’s intense concentration as we worked companionably along side each other, often quite quietly.  It’ll be a while before the garden season really starts but this year, even more than last year, I’m really looking forward to it, and I think, so might be Pip!