5th December 2021
Fraxinus excelsior .
It has been just over a week since storm Arwen sidled through the garden. At the time the windows rattled and I could see the trees swaying but I had no inclination to take a closer look.
The power went off on Monday for a few hours but the worst of the weather hit the north of the country. Monday was unexpectedly sunny but then the gloomy weather returned
and it was a few days before I felt the urge to check the garden for damage. Fortunately the impact had been trivial. I thought I had got away with it completely until I found this Ash tree had been snapped off.
I wasn't sure how the wind got to this one which is quite sheltered, but closer inspection showed that the lower bark on one side had been stripped by squirrels and the tree weakened.
It is one in a row that I am planning to thin when the mood strikes so its loss is unimportant. The squirrels are more worrying. I don't see them in the garden very often
but as the trees mature they are appearing more frequently. I throw things at them ineffectually just so they understand they are not welcome. In the last week I have been visited by a very tame, placid one.
I think it must be on holiday from one of the London Parks. I won't mind when it goes back. I threw a fallen stick at it, and when it landed the squirrel wandered over to see what it was.
I might have to come up with a new strategy.
5th December 2021
Brugmansia sanguinea .
The wind served to emphasise the bleakness creeping slowly over the garden. The first flower on Dahlia tamaulipana survived the onslaught of Arwen and was then snapped off in
gusts the following night. Fortunately as the 'not-growing' season advances the overgrowth of Red Campion around the garden is dying back. I'm hoping to take a hoe
through the new planting of Agave and tidy them up ready for next year. At present it is a hope rather than a plan. I have a long handled hoe, I will consider the prickly prospect from afar
for a few more weeks.
Brugmansia sanguinea was planted out this spring at the same time as the Agave. I am hoping that it gets some overhead protection from a large Pinus radiata. I am hoping
that it will be enough to preserve the rootstock through the winter. I suspect I am being overly optimistic and overestimating the protective qualities of the pine. Last week demonstrated that the
windbreak effect of the pine wasn't enough to protect the Brugmansia. Half of the plant snapped off, all of the flowers were destroyed. It still has a second flush of buds
growing in the shoot tips. It is possible that I will get more flowers but I don't think it is very likely. We have escaped the frost so far but I won't get away with it for long.
5th December 2021
Musa yunnanensis yongpingensis 'Tibet' .
When I looked at the bananas in the middle of the week I wondered if we had experienced a slight frost. The leaves have darkened which is usually the first sign of damage.
When I looked more closely I think Arwen has just bruised them, certainly it has shredded them although the plants are still looking good. The frost that destroys the Brugmansia
will also turn the banana leaves to pulp and leave them clinging to the tops of the pseudostems like forgotten washing or wind-blown debris.
The bananas did well this summer, prospering in the heavy rain that punctuated the warm, dry spells. I don't notice these M. 'Tibet' growing, they seem to me to be the same
size that they were when I planted them. I dug a tiny sucker off one of them a few weeks ago and it was only once it was out of the ground that I realised it was taller than the spade.
I haven't noticed them growing but they have. One of the tasks for winter is to lift a few more suckers and extend the line. Eventually I will have a hedge of them.
It won't be much use as a windbreak but it should look good through the summer.
Further back in the garden, Musa basjoo had just started to produce a flower spike when Arwen intervened. I don't know why the flowering cheers me but it always does.
It doesn't produce fruits and the pseudostem dies afterwards but there is something uplifting about the ridiculous blooms.
I am still waiting for the first flowering from M. 'Tibet'. I just need a couple more moderate winters to keep the largest stems alive.
5th December 2021
Galanthus 'Remember Remember' .
As the gloomy season spreads through the garden, the first signs of spring are doing their best to dispel it. It is still too early to make generalisations, but the first snowdrops
have been erratic. Last August I dug up my clump of G. 'Three Ships' and spread them around more widely under the trees. In a rather grand way I am hoping that they will add to the genetic diversity
of the G.plicatus that are spreading around up there. I would like the ground under the trees to be a sea of white flowers in the spring, starting with 'Three Ships' in December
and continuing until my late form of 'Warham' finishes in March. I might be hoping for too much but the only way to find out is to try it. The first flowers on 'Three Ships'
appeared as Arwen was raging. They have suffered.
G. 'Remember Remember' should have been in flower for the 5th November. Last year the bud was snapped off by a bird (I think). It probably helped the plant,
I have a few more noses appearing this year so it has increased. True to the erratic season there was no sign of it by 5th November. With a fatalism that can only really be understood by gardeners,
I assumed that it was dead. The first time I bought it I lost it in the first year. When I bought this one I had a suspicion that it might be a bit miffy. I kept a second one in the greenhouse
with the autumn snowdrops as an emergency back-up. It hasn't flowered this year so it clearly isn't happy under cover.
The plant in the garden has established and increased. It has produced a single flower that I would have had by December 5th. Remember remember the fifth of December, Christmas is on its way.
I hadn't reckoned with Arwen which ripped off the flower bud and dropped it on the ground.
Snapping an Ash tree I can forgive, tearing the heads off snowdrops is just malicious.