Notes from a riverside garden – January 2022
You may recall that we had logs piled up awaiting relocation to a higher part of the garden, following the tree surgeon’s visit to remove from the river a large fallen branch, snapped off in a gale from our weeping willow. Many wheelbarrow loads later we had moved the pile to higher ground to season. Very hard work as only a few could be transported each time. The logs were large and heavy and an uphill push to the safe area. The weather forecast warned of heavy rain to come so our task was urgent! The heavy rain fell and the spot where the logs had originally been piled up was the following day under water as the river duly rose. Our logs would have drifted off down river if we had not made the effort.
A female Goosander diving duck has been residing here for several weeks now. She hunts by diving underwater and catching fish with her serrated bill. This Goosander has joined the large group of Mallard ducks in the garden and when not hunting sits with them on the back lawn.
This Christmas I grew Paperwhite narcissi in the way I used to grow them when we lived in Hong Kong. It was a tradition to have a bowl of hopefully flowering narcissi at Chinese New Year. They are a sign of wealth and good fortune if flowering at that time. The bulbs were just grown in gravel and water. In mid-December I partially filled a large glass vase with gravel then added water to the level of the gravel, laid the bulbs on top, with the bases of the bulbs just in the water. Very soon the roots appeared and then the shoots. We had a fabulous display for at least a couple of weeks, the tall stems being supported by hazel twigs pushed into the gravel and then festive white lights woven through for added sparkle. The perfume is superb too. I will definitely do this again next Christmas plus it reminds me of the many Chinese New Year celebrations we enjoyed in Hong Kong.
After such a grey and grim end to December and the dreariness of January to endure I decided to wander around the garden looking for some uplifting signs of spring. For a change the sun was shining! Beneath the walnut tree I spotted the first aconite flower unfurling from the soil and a clump of snowdrops in bud. Elsewhere bulbs were pushing through and brightly coloured flowers adorned some sheltered polyanthus in the vegetable garden.
On the Island a young mahonia ‘Charity’ shrub has produced its best show of flowers so far. Soft primrose, upright, yellow fingers of flowers which we have been enjoying for some weeks now. Also on the Island, on the millpool bank, salix acutifolia ‘Blue Streak’ appeared to be illuminated with tiny white lights where the white catkins were caught in the sunlight against the blue sky. Close to the house the viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is putting on a fabulous show of pink flowers festooning its bare branches with the added bonus of a delightful perfume. After my walk around the garden I did feel my spirits had been lifted and that spring was just around the corner. SB