Preparations for Winter

It’s the time of year now where the to-do list is mostly preparations for next year. The ground needs to be prepared for bare-root plants, and seeds that need stratification need to be sown in time to get a decent winter chill.

This weekend has been a bit of all of that. Yesterday’s task was to cut holes into the vast expanse of concrete along the front and side of the house, so the climbing roses can be planted when they arrive. This wasn’t as easy as expected… it took me and my much more powertool handy father hours with a grinder, a breaker, a crowbar and a spade to cut three small holes in the very old and very hard concrete. The end result was three mostly straight edged rectangles:

Hole in the concrete drive for a rose bed

Hole in the concrete drive for a rose bed

I dug them out and mixed in new topsoil and manure today, but we’re now debating whether to put pondliner around the outside down a foot or two to stop water ingress through the solid wall. So I might have to dig it all out again in a day or two anyway.

Today was preparations for my long lost order of non-rose plants. This was supposed to arrive last Wednesday, but the supplier sent it to another customer who happened to have the same name as me. You read that right: they dispatched it without checking the address against the order details. It was then recollected from the accidental recipient on Friday and is supposed to be arriving tomorrow. This is the second winter in a row when a next day delivery has been anything but, and I’m starting to get a feeling of dread whenever something is supposed to show up.

Hopefully, the following will show up tomorrow:

1. Chaenomeles ‘Nivalis’ – I built wire supports to vertically train this. Hopefully it’ll do better than the Cido variety.

2. Chinese Toon – a tree with onion-y leaves, popular in China. I’ll keep it trimmed and bushy. The hole is dug – I hit a few Babington’s Leek bulbs on the way down.

3. Actinidia Kolomikta ‘Dr. Szymanowski’ – less vigourous, very hardy kiwi species. Another kiwi nearby isn’t doing so well so I’ve prepared a bottomless pot for this one. With this I have 5 plants, with 2 female varieties and 1 male variety.

4.┬áZingiber mioga – Japanese ginger. You can never have too many shade tolerant plants when you like planting trees as much as I do.

And after all that, there was a bit of seed sowing. I normally sow seeds that need stratification early and then just leave them in the greenhouse over winter, since it’s so much easier than putting seeds in the fridge and it’s basically how nature does it. The only benefit of the greenhouse is that it keeps weed seeds and birds, rodents etc. out of the seed trays.

The most interesting seed this year is Cephalotaxus Fortunei, a species which is somewhat hard to find and that supposedly produces edible fruit in very shady conditions. We’ll have to see if the seeds germinate in the spring, and if so if any fruit is ever produced.

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