Thursday, 4 January 2007

A new year in the garden

After the gales of New Year's Eve (bad enough to force cancellation of Edinburgh's Hogmany fireworks and Newcastle's too), it was with some trepidation that I walked around the walled garden to see if there was any damage. Luckily the only thing was that the fleece that had protected the fig had been torn off and shredded on a nearby rose bush! As a gardener, the one thing I hate above all else is a gale. I cut down the tall teasels, their seeds now eaten by the goldfinches or scattered by the wind and decided that the next job will be to cut down the grass garden to make way for the new shoots. Bulbs are springing up all over the place - snowdrops, Iris reticulata, daffs, snowflakes and the tightly curled fists of winter aconites. The pineapple sage is still flowering exotically in the greenhouse, a jug full of it having been on the kitchen table on Christmas Day. (See blog posting of 11Dec) It's a strange season, with ceanothus and hebes in flower alongside the more expected, scented blooms of Mahonia 'Charity'.

I have started work on a new herb book commissioned by local Ergo press of Hexham. It will be a down to earth guide to growing and eating the most popular herbs and Tom has taken the front cover image. He has just created his own website - - and many of the dazzling images of wildlife and nature were taken in Chesters Walled Garden, from blue tits bathing in the pools to leaves under frost. His blog was mentioned in the letters page of the Independent a few weekends back and that inspired him to go further and make a website too. With the short days, it is good to have time to study seed catalogues, write herb articles and plan for the coming year.

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