February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March. ~J.R. Stockton
A Note: Maybe a weekly edition is a bit ambitious in mid-winter and so, depending on what happens, we will scale back a bit and publish less frequently until the snows start to retreat … BUT, never more frequently than weekly even when garden activity is buzzing. We don’t want to overload our readers.
Meanwhile, today’s main picture, and the thumbnail to the right are a look ahead to what lies on the other side of the snow – just to cheer us all up during this unseasonably and rather unpleasantly warm January. Mid-January is traditionally the coldest couple of weeks of the year where we garden though this week we had a short and messy period of thaw and the forecast for next week has more rain it than snow.
We aren’t sure what the people in nearby houses are doing, but we are seeing regular trips across the garden this week , all from the same direction, of squirrels bearing large slices of toast, chunks of bagel and the like.
In the last edition we wrote about converting our small vegetable plot to one with a selection of shrubs and perennials that will appeal particularly to the birds. This corner is behind our multiple bird feeders as viewed from the house and so installing bushes in particular will not only provide shelter for birds but will also add to the visual appeal.
Our initial thoughts were to concentrate on more varieties of Cornus (Dogwood) and certainly we will plant a couple, but we are now seriously considering a small number of Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) bushes as they have a spectacular show of red berries which – importantly – they retain into the winter. They will thus complement the dogwoods which provide berries for the birds much earlier in the year. We have identified a local nursery that stock some interesting varieties of winterberry and are really excited at the prospect of transforming this corner of the garden. Winterberry are an eastern North American variety of holly that naturally grows in wetland areas but which tolerates regular garden conditions quite well and can even cope with a bit of drought if it has to. In fcat the dryer situation is helpful as in naturally wet places it tends to spread by suckering which is not a problem in most gardens. It’s a deciduous holly, so the berries will show well once it is established … the thumnail picture gives an idea of what we hope to achieve.