It is the time of year when the garden is rimy, frost-dusted and frozen.  For the last week the night temperature has barely got above 2 degrees and at one point descended to -6 which is not unheard of, but is a cold winter's night for my location.

Thus far this year we have only had a vague scattering of snow that has not even joined the flakes together to make a net curtain, never mind a blanket.  The ground is frozen hard.  Each freezing night has set the ice even harder.  There is a solidity to the lawn that makes it feel harder and colder than the crazy paving path to the front door.  Of course I expect the crazy paving to feel hard, whereas the lawn feeling so hard seems strange.  There is no give, no bounce, and of late: none of the squidge of being waterlogged.  It is a different hard from when the lawn is dry, even as dry as it got at the height of the drought this year.  This is a colder hard, an unyeilding hard.

There is no gardening I can usefully do when everything is so frozen.  No weeds will part company with the frozen earth, they are frozen into position, looking cold yet unable to move out of the stasis the cold brings.  I often get on with the pruning when the weather will not enable much else in the garden, yet I worry about doing this when there is frost due in case the wound freezes and causes damage.  

The greenhouse is currently frozen shut.  I cannot get the door to open.  It is not heated but plants are fleeced in there.   I do wonder how many will survive.  I peer through the frosted windows and wish the plants in there good luck.  When the door defrosts I will go in and check progress.

Yet I cannot stay out of the garden, I have to have my wander around the garden when I can.  I say wander, it is more accurately part inspection tour, part royal visit.  I walk the paths, trying to set off in different directions on different days.  One day I will go clockwise, the next I will be widdershins and just hope my luck holds out.  I pause in front of certain plants to specifically check how they are doing.  I ask them 'so how are you doing?' and pretend my garden gloves are really elbow-length white silk gloves.  The plants look at me confused and tell me to stop watching the early serieses of The Crown.  I explain to them that this is my garden, my territory.  Am I their Queen?  gosh I hope not, in reality I want to be their Mr McHenry, poddling around the garden on my tricycle helping them thrive, grow and just be.   I don't remember him wearing gloves, never mind silk opera gloves........  I digress.....

The Edgeworthia is giving me great concern this year.  I stand in front of it quite a lot.  Regular readers will know I worry about my Edgeworthia chrysantha every year.  Every year I tell myself it is a year older and a year more mature and hopefully a year more able to cope with the cold.  I think this cold snap is probably the consistently coldest period we have had for many a year.  I planted it is 2013 so it is in its tenth year and the last really (really) cold winter was in 2010 so this is its first real test.  I can see that the buds were damaged before Christmas when the temperatures plunged to -7, but some had survived, some looked like they would manage to flower in a few weeks time.  Now they just all look cold and I will keep an eye on them to see if they pull through.  I am worried that the whole shrub will up and die and that would be a huge loss to my garden.  Not only does she have wonderful yellow flowers that early pollinators enjoy, the Edgeworthia has one of the best winter scents.  She would be a huge loss. I don't want to tempt fate by considering what I will do if it does die and yet my mind is already pondering whether to replant or not.  I know from experience that they will only grow in this particular part of the garden that is sheltered and has the mythical 'moist and well drained' soil.  The rest of the garden has far to heavy clay for this precious diva of a shrub.  I shall not waste my time worrying as worrying will not save it.  I shall wait and see, which will involve anxious inspection and lots and lots of crossing of fingers whilst whispering words of love to her.

I then swing on by the Daphne Jacqueline Postill.  This is a less fraught moment and grounds me again.   I planted two in the garden in 2019, this one had a tree fall on it in Spring 2020, which made her sulk for a couple of years refusing to flower.  This year however she is now recovered and flowering again and an absolute joy.  Not only does this plant give good colour this time of year but also wonderful scent.  She will never be a direct replacement for the Edgeworthia should she die this winter, but stands as a reminder of hope and that patience often has its reward.  So I shall wait and be patient.  Que cera as Doris would say... (sing).

Take care and be kind.

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  1. I know what you mean about not being able to stay out of the garden. I feel the same way here in the Upper Midwest U.S. ... except when our temperatures stretch below -9C (15F), and the wind is strong. Today we were -3C (27F) with sun and no wind, and it actually felt warmer than 4C (40F) with rain and wind. Anyway...I'm always checking on things in the garden when the weather allows. And as you say, "Que sera, sera..."


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