Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A touch of frost?

  It's been a cold, icy and, at times, snowy week in the garden. I've been out making sure that visiting wildlife has access to water and that the feeders have been topped up for the birds I've been encouraging into the garden. So far, it's been the easiest week of winter to shuffle all the family outdoors: the children were quick to stumble into the snow to find the sledge and throw snowballs, while Steve was keen to capture some wintry images on his new camera.
                            © Steven J. Martin
  For me, the snow has been a great tool for helping to think about the form and texture of the plants I use in the garden. Individual leaves, detailed with a shimmer of frost or sprinkling of snow, highlight the contrast between neighbouring plants. 
                                                     fans of Fatsia japonica leaves

  On a larger scale, differences in the overall form of plant shapes are easy to see beneath a covering of snow - rounded, conical, spikey or a low mound. It's useful to reflect on whether the balance of different shapes in the border is quite right and to make notes to add, take away or move plants later in the year to refresh and restore a balance where needed.
                                                         strappy leaves of Phormium
  The snow has also provided a welcome blanket over the plants, protecting them from the cold. At home, you might be well advised to consider knocking snow off any hedges and conifers to prevent them from becoming mis-shapen with the weight of the snow. Once the snow's melted there is still a risk of frost damage: most at risk are container-grown plants as it's the plant's roots that are particularly susceptible to cold. Wrap the containers in bubble-wrap or even newspaper tied with a string and stuffed with straw to provide some protection against the cold. 
Appledore, Wednesday, 23rd January, 2013

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