The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Mid-Winter Working Day


Another absolutely beautiful mild, blue-sky day in Angus today. So first thing after breakfast I rushed outdoors to get some fresh air and make some headway on the winter jobs.

This winter I have been working hard to get Bark Mulch down on some of the borders. It makes the garden look much neater, protects the plants from any future cold spells, and keeps the weeds down later in the year. It’s expensive, and I won’t be able to do the Golden Border this year, but a lot of the garden is now snug under its blanket.

I’m afraid I shall be complaining soon about the Blackbirds who will inevitably have fun chucking the bark all over the place and laughing at me as I rake it back.

Before putting it down I weeded the borders. They weren’t too bad, I’d already done it in the autumn. But some areas of the garden are very much in need of weeding and tidying, especially Heuchera Corner and the Golden Border. Nevertheless, they still look ok. The Golden Border in particular is maturing beautifully and gives me a lot of pleasure all year round.

This circle around one of the apple trees has hosted Primula Poissonii for some time now, but its not a good spot for a shade tolerant moisture lover! So this afternoon I removed and replanted eslewhere. I hope they take, they are such lovely plants. Like a dwarf candelabra but flowering much longer and repeatedly.

In Meditation Corner the Golden Pine is really glowing. It’s green all summer but the winter sun turns it gold. A lovely plant.

These are three of my favourite Conifers all in the same shot. On the left is Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans Aurea’ and then in the centre is the blue Cedar, C. deodara ‘Mr Blue’. The dwarf Pine on the Right is slow-growing. As it grows I remove the lower branches to keep the crown above ground level. This allows light in underneath.

On the patio, the pots were needing to be watered. They hadn’t been done for over a month, and some were very dry. I forget to water them in winter and when its windy like yesterday they can get dried out quite easily. There are lots of tulips here that aren’t yet peeping up above the gravel dressing. We just bought a new hose because the old one had so many holes in it. Not only was it wasteful, but it also gave me too many showers!

Viburnum carlesii is a lovely shrub. It’s semi-evergreen and carries its flower buds right through the winter. In early spring it flowers, releasing a beautiful and powerful scent. Today I took secateurs to it and removed all the congested and crossing branches. I also removed the lowest branches. I did the same on the neighbouring Chokeberry bush. Now, these spring flowering shrubs ‘should’ be pruned immediately after flowering. But I am a rebel and sometimes I do things at the ‘wrong’ time, if its the ‘right’ time for me! I like to prune my shrubs to prevent them becoming too thicket-like. Obviously it means I lose some flowers, but its more important to me that they grow in a good balanced shape.

On the right you can see the lovely blue spruce Picea sitchensis ‘Papoose’ which was sparkling in the sunshine today. I shall have to move it I suppose, in a couple of years. But it grows slowly.

The raised borders are looking neat and there is colour in there courtesy of evergreen Panicum, uncinia and Cornus. I have removed a few of the perennials, but there will still be plenty of colour and interest in there in the spring and summer.

My newest planted containers are still doing well. The heather will be next to flower. These are in permanent shade all winter long, but they still look bright and cheerful with the Lime Green Heuchera.

I’ve placed some upturned hanging baskets on six spots in the corner bed. These mark the spots where I will soon be planting new herbaceous Clematis. These are the clematis that produce many stems of long-lasting flowers suitable for cutting. They do well here. I already have a few, including the lovely Clematis heraclefolia ‘Cassandra’ which flowers very late and has scented powder-blue blooms…

and C. integrifolia ‘Pangbourne Pink’ which flowers for a long period in mid-summer. Here it is on the left of the photo with its nodding ‘Pixie Hat’ blooms.

They are known as ‘Herbaceous’ Clematis because they die back completely in the winter, which means they can be cut back hard in late autumn and kept tidy. They don’t really need support either, but you can give the taller ones something to be tied to or just allow them to sprawl where they will. Arabella is another example. No fiddly pruning required. :) Here are a couple of the baskets guarding the planting spots! Anyway, soon there will be six more lovely clematis like this in the Corner border and I can’t wait!

Back in Golden Border, the Betula ‘Silver Shadow’ are growing well now and one has even started to shed its first ‘skin’. It looked lovely in the sun.

Another job of today was to cut the old leaves from the Helleborus orientalis hybrids. This serves two purposes. Firstly it allows me to enjoy the flowers without them being hidden under the leaves. Secondly it helps to control the horrible fungal disease that causes black spots on the plant….and I get a lot of this problem. The new leaves won’t have it when they emerge, it will form later in the season and its very ugly. It even seems to affect my H. niger plants, so they also get a chop. If the leaves are clean and clear of the flowers, I leave them on. And I leave any young leaves on too. But on the Orientalis I usually end up removing all the leaves. This is my double H.niger which has nice clean leaves that have moved aside for the blooms. :)

I moved it a couple of months ago, but it doesn’t seem to have minded at all thank goodness! The trick is to get a big root ball with lots of soil so the plant doesn’t even notice its being shifted.

As well as the Heuchera Corner and Golden Border to weed and tidy, I still have to do the same on one side of the Pod planting. At this time of year I remove the dead flower stems of the Sedums. I know, they look good frosted, but I’ve had enough of the mess by now. Last week I planted a cutting of a Dark Purple Sambucus to the left of this bit…It will hide a hole in the hedge where an Ash has grown and been cut back and it will also screen off the view of next door across the field.

I just wanted to show you the lovely deciduous Larch at the pond side before I close this blog. I hope you had an equally lovely day today. The weather looks good for the rest of the week. :)

More blog posts by cottagekaren

Previous post: January Jewels

Next post: Check This Out! (Veg. And fruit growers.)



Know what you mean about the blackbirds routing in the borders tossing out any mulch, also soil in pots. I have to put chicken wire over 'bare plant' areas. That Double niger Hellebore is a beaut.

9 Jan, 2019


I have naughty blackbirds too. Your garden is looking fabulous, Karen.
I am back at work on The GSA History Painting. We hope to have it finished by the summer.
It is took cold today to work in the garden but I am planning a bit of shrub trimming.

9 Jan, 2019


Thanks Sue. X Linda, I look forward to seeing the completed work. Where will it be exhibited? Yes, a bit colder here today as well. I only did a couple of hours today. I even sat in the pod and read my Landscape Magazine...bliss!

9 Jan, 2019


blackbirds and squirrels seem to enjoy tossing mulch.
your garden does look lovely though Karen. Didn't do any gardening today and it was much colder here today but we had quite heavy rain in the night so the soil is very wet..

9 Jan, 2019


Thank you SBG. No point trying to work in those conditions. The soil here is perfectly workable now....for now!

9 Jan, 2019


My word you have been busy, the garden is looking very tidy and beautiful, as usual, you really have worked wonders in such a short space of time......

9 Jan, 2019


Thank you my dear friend. The six new clems are in and under the mulch. I can’t wait to see this corner border next summer. Its never been great, but this year it will be so much better. Theres always so much to do if you keep wanting to improve it...nobody knows that better than you!

10 Jan, 2019


Ah! Your pod would be great at this time of year.
We hope to get going on the 'where' soon.

10 Jan, 2019


Karen a girl after my own heart.......all planted and growing away....
The roses arrived today, two are bare root will plant tomorrow, as the weather is set fair for a few days, waiting for the nursery to get some more composted bark in, as they say not to use wood chips as a mulch on roses! new one to me! ordered a Clematis to climb into an ageing Pittosporum, that arrived today plus a new obelisk for Princess Margareta to climb up, looking forward to hopefully see all in flower, fingers crossed!

10 Jan, 2019


I shall look into that regarding the mulch!

10 Jan, 2019


Karen it appears it is only detrimental to the growing of roses, encourages more leaf, and not flower, it could have come from the David Austin website!

15 Jan, 2019


Thank you!

15 Jan, 2019

Add a comment

Recent posts by cottagekaren

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    13 May, 2014

  • Gardening with friends since
    12 Feb, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    9 Aug, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    23 Feb, 2011