The back garden is a complete mess. That's what happens when you have a building project under way. There is builder's detritus everywhere, piles of subsoil and topsoil that has come out of trenches, snow on the nearby hills, and some days there are more workmen in the back garden than plants.
We have done a small amount of retaining around an area intended to (one day) be a courtyard surrounded by herb and salads plants, but otherwise, most gardening action this month has been put aside.
It's freezing anyway! Our daffodil (yes, just one) thinks it is Spring but it isn't. It's just the beginning of winter here!
Our First fruit tree – a Meyer Lemon
We are planning to plant an entire multi-layered fruit forest on the front lawn, with an initial intention to purchase the bare-rooted trees this winter, but it is now looking as though this plan will have to be put aside until next winter, as we aren't ready to launch into digging swales and we are starting to miss our window of opportunity to get bare-rooted trees this year. Now is the time to be doing that and we are not ready.
However, a friend of ours, who makes a delightful habit of gifting fruit trees to her friends, has given us the first of our orchard trees – a Meyer Lemon, so this little plant can be the first of our fruit trees to be planted, with many more to follow over time.
What is flowering now? Violets.
One little plant that deserves a round of applause is the violet plant. Although they easily grow from seed, I was terribly attached to my violets (you can read a previous blog post about them here), and so before moving house I dug some of them up and they travelled with me from our previous garden in a pot.
They are valiantly flowering at the moment and definitely deserve a permanent home soon. I am eyeing up a shady spot by the back door, where they can spread out and relax. Unfortunately, it is still covered in weed mat and pebbles. (Another job still to be done. In Spring!)
Another new arrival - Daphne
Another addition to the garden is a Daphne plant (Daphne odora). This was another sentimental acquisition. My father arrived at our first home, with a little evergreen bush as a gift, saying that every house should have a Daphne by the back door. It flowered through the winter and smelt beautiful! A few weeks ago I brought one home to this house. It is still in a pot, while I decide on the right place for it. I was hoping that when I looked into it a bit more, I would find a thousand other uses for Daphne, to further justify its presence in the garden, but actually, the main thing Daphne has going for it is that it smells heavenly. Daphne is native to China, Korea and Japan. In Korea, the plant is also poetically called "churihyang" - a thousand-mile scent. All parts of it are poisonous to humans and domestic animals, so it won't be making its way into the kitchen unless in a vase.
Daphne can be a little fussy too – choose its position with care, as it doesn't take well to root disturbance and may transplant badly. Daphne is hardy, can grow well in full sun or partial shade and grows best in well-drained soils as it doesn't like having wet feet. It often does better in the shade, as it is shallow rooted and the roots can dry out too much if planted in a very sunny, dry position. For this reason, Daphne also doesn't do well in pots. Daphne plants don't live long (only about 8 – 10 years), but if you plan ahead you can propagate more plants by taking semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
All this talk of Daphne and violets made me think of what other plants you could choose for a scented garden. If you want to have wonderful, wafting scents wash over you as you stroll peacefully through the garden....
Stop right there!
If you want to have wonderful, wafting scents wash over you as you are digging, weeding, lugging stuff around the garden, pushing wheelbarrows, picking produce and trying to find your secateurs/trowel/plant tags/children, then here is a really easy option for you to sow this Spring – the Kings Seeds Fabulous Fragrant Flower Selection. This gorgeous mixture is made up of Dianthus Clove Pink, Dianthus Rainbow Loveliness, Snail Vine, Stock Night Scented and Violet Queen Charlotte. Sow these pretty flowers for a garden that smells as good as it looks! And if you are looking for scented plants to grow, don't forget Lavender and Sweet Peas.
Finally, who is getting excited about this year's new offerings from the Kings Seeds catalogue? I have a few things I have my eye on for this Spring, when it finally arrives! Here are my picks so far:
Celery Peppermint Stick
This is such a pretty colour that I am willing to overlook the fact that I haven't yet successfully grown ordinary green celery successfully. Wish me luck – this is the prettiest celery I have ever seen!
Radish Halloween Mix
Love this mixture of coloured radishes with the black radishes included!
Calendula Oopsy Daisy
Gorgeous name, pretty colours – love the variations. This is definitely one for this year!
What are you most excited about growing this season? Please comment below! We'd love to hear from you....