So what did you lose last winter? By now you should have a pretty good idea, whether it is shrubs (or parts of them) that have failed to come into leaf, or perennials that just haven’t reappeared from the ground this year.

Last winter was a pretty hard one in the UK. Even down here on the south coast, we actually had snow lying and icy conditions. Further north, things were obviously a bit harder, with deep snow lying for weeks.

Slight signs of life in the cotinus

I have been very pleased to find that virtually everything survived the winter. The plant that seems to have suffered most is cotinus.  Two of my three cotinus shrubs have lost major branches.  Luckily part of the plants have survived, but the shrubs are now looking a little unbalanced.  This weekend, I was going to tidy up some more twigs that I thought had also been lost, but on closer inspection, there appears to be slight signs of life on them.  So, I’m going to wait a couple more weeks to see if they actually will come back to life.

A new hosta (with canine protection)

Other than that, I seem to have been very lucky.  There are very few “holes” in my planting.  There have been a few spots where I could put in an extra plant but really very few.  Thank goodness the days of mass plant purchasing seem to be over.  It wasn’t just the effect on my pocket, but rather the thought of having to dig holes and plant up to forty plants at a time.  These days, it tends to be ten or less in one go.  I bought three new hostas – this one has gone in a place that hisorically has not been good for plant survival.  I’m not sure why it is, but the plant got immediate protection (the metal plant support), just in case it is the dogs that reduce my survival rates. 

Our main herb pot

We always anticipate losing a lot of our herbs, after all they are mainly suited to a Mediterranean climate.  This year, only a thyme and chives made it through, and the mint of course, but that is in a seperate pot.  A couple of new herbs we are trying this year are Sorrel, for salad leaves with very interesting green and reddish leaves (at about 4 o’clock in the photo) and  Hedge Germander, said to be good in vermouth, but I liked its lovely dark green leaves (at about 10 o’clock in the photo). 

Keeping herbs in a pot is a must for us to avoid contamination from the dogs, but it is easier only having bitches.  Luckily when dogs visit, the location of the pot, behind them as they come out of the door and on a small step, seems to mean that it is not an attractive target for leg lifting :).

We were very lucky this winter – hope you were as fortunate.

Well, the Wisteria finally got its summer prune today.  This used to be my job, but since my hip operation, my OH isn’t overkeen on me going up to the roof on the ladder, so it has become his job. 

In the past, I have tried to cut it weekly throught the summer, using a tree pruning long pole to reach to the top, but I still couldn’t stop it reaching the roof and it grew all the more.  So for the last couple of years, we have followed the text books and pruned it twice a year.  The Summer prune tidies the plant up, but it is the Winter prune that starts my gardening year as I always try to do the job on 1 January.

The dogs weren’t overly pleased to have to stay in the house while the job was being done, but we feel it is a little too dangerous to have them outside with things being dropped from a great height during the process.  They just sat at the patio doors watching the whole process and every time we came near the doors they got soooo excited about the possibility of being allowed outside.