Still January, still dark cold mornings on the school run but yes, another half hour in the afternoons though the work is now so heavy that I.ve made an executive decision that I’m not using the extra time just yet….. 150+ seed varieties under way in the smallest tunnel including many more species salvias and penstemons, fuelling my obsession further! The other tunnels are crammed with overwintering stock and my improvised storage solution for the salvia stock plants i.e. the barn is also working OK although the light is struggling in the gloom to keep everything vaguely green. However despite a demoralising 31mm of rain in 24 hrs some things are way ahead of schedule – hazel catkins have been out since mid December my earliest primula, normally February, has been out for 2 weeks.
The euphoria wulfeniii are starting to flower, and iris Katharine Hodgkin has never been out in January for me before. And theres always an occasional weirdness in the polytunnel at this time of year – this time its a happily blooming salvia fulgent cutting which thinks its September ! Even my poor hellebores which have been languishing in an undignified fish box for 3 years and then planted out in November are starting to stretch out and tentatively produce some buds.
Outside I am clearing clearing clearing the field boundaries as part of my ongoing 10 year project to recreate some hedges – brambles cut back so that their cheery pink shoots will be and nice and easily spotted for the sprayer of death, nettle forests already sprouting and long lanky curtains of grass everywhere. Part of this work is to progress one of my latest cunning plans – planting willow en masse for drainage and providing loads of coppiced stems for floristry and wreaths as part of my efforts to extend my cut flower season. I’ll be planting willow cuttings of three or four different varieties through black ground cover and from past experience they’ll race away to 6-8 ft this year.
I’m also planning the DIY polytunnel – yes – who needs purpose built structures when you have lots of blue pipe from a previous plan plus some weird cross pieces for making gazebos a few ground tubes and just a touch of madness – hours of fun!……I should point out that this will be no much protected propagation space but a roof only structure for cut flower roses and a bit of season extending. I will make the frame asap and get on to the grizzly task of Glyphosating the field grass and then…… perhaps if I say it fast it wont be so bad ?digging the whole thing…… underneath it once the weather improves.
Finally, and deeply unglamourously, 70+ stock beds need digging weeding and manuring ( and at my unimpressive speed of one bed a day) so out to the mud I go………