Thursday, January 14, 2010

How does your garden grow?

The new header picture shows the camellia Little Bit, flowering in my garden in January 2009. At that time, there was a glorious display of camellias, hellebores and snowdrops but today I found a great deal of depressing devastation. Winters here are normally very mild and plants that people in other parts of the UK would dig up or protect survive and flourish with no special attention. How I wish I had heeded my country neighbours who told me that the abundance of berries warned of harsh weather to come, instead of believing the predictions from the Met Office.

Most of the snow has gone, leaving the ground saturated and the plants bent and broken and still harbouring some ice crystals.

I walked around, feeling quite overwhelmed by the destruction and wondering if I could face replanting the whole garden, then I saw a few signs of life. The camellias, which would normally be in full bloom by now, still have their buds:

The magnolia buds look rather forlorn but perhaps they will open:

and the lilacs promise to fill the garden with colour and scent, even if nothing else has survived

I hope the Big Freeze is not leaving you with the effects of a Terrible Thaw.


  1. Maureen, maybe all will be well. Snow is a good insulator even if it does squash things. It's the frost that kills plants. Fingers crossed that the unusual amount of snow has protected some of your garden.
    We can only plant extremely hardy stuff anyway, so I don't imagine our garden will look much worse than it usually does...

  2. m. Rattling On is right. Snow and even ice protect what's underneath it.

    Here in Florida, the extended periods of very cold nights killed off everything. I haven't had the heart yet to go out and take pictures of the shriveled black other-worldly mass hanging down where previously gorgeous flowers bloomed.

  3. Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised, a blanket of snow acts just like a cold blanket it stops the frost penetrating as deep

    We have trouble sometimes here if it freezes before it snows as it can freeze buried pipes that are several feet under ground

    Lilacs should have no problems they love it here
    sending hopeful thoughts!

  4. Dear Maureen,

    I agree with the ladies above. I've always heard that a harsh winter makes for excellent spring flowers. BTW, just in case you didn't see the comment I left you on my blog, I said you're welcome to my kitchen anytime, perhaps one day in person!

    How did the sausage and squash dish turn out?

  5. Well that is very encouraging news from all of you. Mine is very much a spring and early summer garden and I was afraid that all might be lost. We have lived here for 21 years and never before experienced this kind of weather.

    I hope your plants are not beyond TLC, e.

    Thanks, Jodi, I'd love to meet you in person one day - maybe you will make it to Devon? And the casserole has been a great hit for two days!

  6. Grow garlic next year! I understand it needs a nice big freeze to get it going. That way, even if you are gazing mournfully at the rest of the garden, you can do it while eating a pleasingly rustic Italian dish.

  7. I'm going to try commenting again, M, as the first one disappeared into cyberspace! Would just echo all the above comments. Many plants and shrubs are tougher than we imagine and let's hope there are some happy surprises for you.

    Meanwhile, here in our very own reverse micro-climate in Mid-Devon, we are blanketed in thick fog for the second day running and the snow is still inches deep in the garden and across the fields. Walking anywhere remains hazardous with lanes still covered in ice and slush. Happy days!

  8. martpol
    That's a good idea, although we probably won't have another frost for 10 years or more. I think you have had a lot more snow than us and probably had the sense to buy snow shoes and skis. Keep warm!

  9. D
    Fog and black ice here, too, but I don't have to walk any dogs. I hope you'll be frost-free very soon.

  10. I'm a bit late to the party here M. as your contributors have already said all I was thinking as I read your piece. I am very pleased that this year we have had a proper winter as many of our indigenous plants thrive on those really cold days and nights and they also help to kill off excesses of the little creatures (aphids for example) that make a gardener's life so difficult. Severe winters are nature's way of keeping things in balance. You will be pleased and delighted to see how for the most part, your plants will catch up. But it's worth heed those old country witches and warlocks, or just watch the birds. This year my laden berry bushes that are usually stripped in the first weeks of autumn were left until the beginning of the cold spell. It was as if the birds knew that this year it would be prudent to leave things in store until really needed.

  11. The trouble is, Crinny, that my garden (as you know) has many plants that are not native, hardy Brits! I think lots of my shrubs and perennials will not recover. You must come for a visit and help me restock.

  12. A harsh freeze seems devastating, I say, from my sheltered home in California. But, behold, you have signs of hope, with camellia buds, lilacs and more, sort of like the rainbow after the storm, or the dove bringing Noah an olive branch.
    I think and hope your sturdy plants will pull through.

  13. But your garden is also quite sheltered and so you may find that there has been some protection in that. It is true that the covering of snow can actually protects the ground from penetrating frosts. I still think you might be pleasantly surprised when things begin to warm up and your plants begin to push up new shoots. Live in Hope!

  14. My garden is very bleak with broken branches everywhere. I wait nervously to see what has survived.


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