I read a comment by a very well known gardening journalist a couple of weeks ago that now was a very good time to plant shallots and onion sets. She clearly lives in that special place where it never rains and the soil falls into a ready tilth at the touch of a fork! Please do not try this in Tatsfield until the end of the month at the earliest! Our heavy clay should be dry enough by the end of the month for light cultivation; trying to ‘hurry it up’ won’t work and will result in a real mess, so please be patient!
When conditions improve you can start pruning some shrubs such as roses, Buddleia, Spiraea, Caryopteris and Hypericum. How many fragrant flowers do you have in your garden right now? What a lovely thing to be able to enjoy flower and fragrance in late winter – Mahonia, Hamamellis, Daphne, Lonicera fragrantissima, Sarcococca and many more – buy them now in flower and enjoy them for many years to come! When pruning and tidying up, make sure to check your larger shrubs to see if they have been moved by the high winds. Re-firming them by treading around before applying a mulch can make a big difference to their recovery after a tough winter.
Trying to find out how much rain we have had and comparing that against the so called average rainfall is a bit of a tricky business. Sadly my own weather station is no longer working so I would be very interested to hear if anyone has captured our monthly totals from October to January. The Environment Agency tells us that
a total of 14” of rain fell from October to December with 4” of rain falling so far this January already – these figures compare with an average of 9" for this period but this is not a reliable figure especially for our particular area – more on this anon!
The series of winter storms combined with the heavy rain took its toll of our trees, fences and roof tiles. It is possible that evergreen trees and shrubs have yet to show symptoms of damage in the form of the characteristic ‘scorching’ effect. The wind was mainly from a southerly direction so the damage should be minimal. It is when it blows strongly from the east to north east that the damage can occur. If February is not a drier month and we have more wind, I fear that more trees and fences will come down as the ground is very wet around roots and foundations.
Jon Allbutt (Tel: 577100 Email: email@example.com)