As I write, after an already feeling 10 days Storm Emma and ‘The beast from the East’ are fighting it out overhead  – swirling ice dust storms, gusts of 60mph. -8 overnight and dry dessicated plant damage everywhere I look. This combination of subzero gales and drought is thankfully rare but is pretty challenging for overwintering nursery stock. And minus a poly tunnel cover again!  Inevitably my borehole  – and those of many others locally -has frozen so no water for either plants or people………Just trying to hunker down and will count the inevitable mass casualties when the thaw comes possibly in the next 48 hrs..Meanwhile in the two tiny tunnels coddled with eye wateringly expensive heating, thousands of tiny perennial seedlings and rooted cuttings are quietly sitting things out and politely requiring minimum water – thank goodness!

New projects were underway in February mainly my mass willow planting project 3 bright stemmed varieties for winter wreaths and a standard green for plant supports/woven bed edges etc. After much research and based on previous plantings I ordered 2 ft cuttings which I could just stick straight into the ground…..instead  – and I suppose bank error in my favour !-  these  magnificent  and lofty  – at least 4ft and –  generously rooted specimens arrived.  So –  instead of gaily poking slits in the carefully laid ground cover with my ever useful metal spike and just ‘popping’ cuttings in   – holes had to  be slowly  dug/hacked  for each  and just as I had finished the first 150 down the first field boundary,  the big freeze began. Below are some which I’ve planted  in a  double row the, idea being that I pollard each row every other year.  I have wrapped and stored the remainder in the barn  and hoping that willows legendary toughness will get them through.

Operation DIY bargain poly tunnel phase one is complete, with the aid of my trusty mum as labourer! – and is looking rather fetching with its blue hoops held down with strips of red webbing. I managed to find – well trip over in a field –  a pile of old tunnel straight poles which fitted, oh bliss, exactly up the blue pipe so, as they would say on Grand Designs the whole thong has some ‘structural integrity’ i.e. straight sides. As you can see, my resident hound Rafferty is wild with excitement and deeply impressed.  A cover – roof only  -and side battens to attach it too will be next and then down on my knees and dig out the 60 ft long  beds………….. I know the roses will appreciate the cover and with the aid of a very optimistic if frozen minds eye I can just about see June !!

Finally, I’m not sure this poor chap will see June but check out his icy shroud! ……..