Singin’ and Gardenin’ in the Rain

Last weekend I read one of those articles which listed ‘Jobs for your garden in February’. It cheerfully informed me that my lawn should be ‘starting to wake up’ and it was a good time to start preparing for the first mow of the year.

This raised a hollow laugh from me, as I contemplated the quagmire which we currently have in place of a lawn. Our garden is west facing and we’re on top of a hill, but somehow there is no drainage at all, water just seems to *sit* there, perhaps held in place by the wretched raised bed which dominates the garden. It’s not helped by the fact there is no garden path, just a series of stepping stones, so even a simple trip to the compost bin or bird table involves squelching over already-sodden grass and slippery stones, ruining the lawn even more.

However, compared to this time last year, the endless rain has one advantage over snow – with the garden not hidden by a layer of frost or snow, I can see the shrubs much more clearly, while they are free of leaves, and with the ground not frozen solid I can actually take action to dig and clear stuff out. It’s as if the bare bones of the garden are out on display, so I can see where the dead wood is, what is overgrown and needs serious hacking back, and what only needs a trim and tidy up.

I also have a much better idea of what I want to keep and what can go – although the thought of taking out an entire shrub is much more daunting than just cutting it back, all those roots to grub up and all that back-breaking digging and sawing.

But I know I want to get rid of the Kerria – sorry, Kerria – as it’s a plant I’ve never really liked, even though we had it in the garden when I was growing up. Orangey pom poms just aren’t my thing, I’m afraid. It grows like wildfire, throwing out new suckers all the time, so I’ve no idea how we can get it completely cleared out without a lot of sweat & effort.

However, it’s on the south side of the garden, next to our side return, and when the builders finally arrive (not till July, it seems), they will probably take down the entire fence to get their equipment and skip in, and according to the Mr, we should expect to lose most of the plants along that bed thanks to the footfall of them all tramping to and fro.

I don’t mind if the kerria is trampled to death, at any rate, and the other large shrubs near it aren’t ones I’m particularly fussed about – a rather feeble hydrangea, which I have two more of in the front garden anyway, and a skimmia, which is reliable and sturdy, but a bit dull, so that can go without too many tears.

The bed also contains a couple of roses, including a lovely vigorous white one right by the garden gate, and with my love of roses well documented, I’d be loathe to let those go. They are pretty old and gnarled, though, so I have pruned them back well, and am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best – roses respond well to being treated firmly, so they say, and these ones look like they’ve been sadly neglected over the years.

In the mean time, I’ve done what I can, between the storms – cut back as much of the sprawling kerria as I can, aerated the lawn with a fork in a desperate attempt to improve the drainage, and dug out a heap of Spanish bluebells from the raised bed to make room for forget-me-nots and pansies, my faithful stand-bys for cheering up a sad garden. It was a good workout for me and for the hitherto little-used garden fork, if nothing else. And then we sit and wait, and wait for spring….

Here’s a shot of the garden from yesterday, looking surprisingly green and serene. After all the work done today, the grass is looking much more churned up and muddy, I just hope we get a few clear days to give it a chance to recover!

Garden, looking south west, February 2014

Garden, looking south west, February 2014