If last January the gardens were unworkable because of snow, this January the problem's been mud - thick, clogging, mud. So, for those of us who haven't escaped to warmer climes like Cuba and India (no hint of envy in my tone!) it's generally been an indoors kind of month...
A highlight for me was nearly tripping over a clump of tall, early snowdrops in full bloom, buzzing with honey bees. Not just any old snowdrops, but the wonderfully-named 'Reverend Hailstone', which I purchased three years ago from Jackie Morris's stall at Easton Walled Gardens, didn't get round to planting, and thought I had stupidly managed to throw onto the compost heap. It's one of the biggest and most sweetly-scented snowdrops and has lovely glaucous leaves, so a treasure if you're interested in searching out more unusual varieties. It is named after the Reverend John Hailstone, vicar of Bottisham in Cambridgeshire, who bought neighbouring Anglesey Abbey in 1848, where the snowdrop was found growing.
If you follow the blog regularly you'll know we've had another exciting apple DNA result back, with one of our trees turning out to be the rare and ancient London or Five-Crowned Pippin, first recorded in 1580 and believed to be centuries older. On New Year's Day it was still holding on to nearly all its fruit, then suddenly the whole lot dropped to the ground, providing a welcome midwinter feast for the birds and squirrels.
More cheering news has been discussion with local landscape artist, Sarah Jennings, who has approached us about painting the gardens over the coming year for her Allotments Series. Here are 'Last Sprouts Standing' and 'Snow Compost' painted by Sarah last winter. Do check her super website, Sarah Jennings Artist, and keep watching this space!
Copyright © Karen Meadows 2019