As we look back on December we realize we did not spend a large amount of time in the garden. There were so many other things to tend to in the house and in our new conservatory. The days were not long, with darkness falling shortly after four in the afternoon and the light not returning until after eight in the morning.
But the times we did get out there were fabulous. We had a birthday early in the month and the jubilant received some lovely new roses. Well, new is perhaps not the right word as one of them is the Rosa Gallica officianalis, the old Apothecary’s rose from c.1600. Another one is the beautiful Gallica, Rosa Mundi, with pink and white striped flowers, dating from approximately the same time. Two more roses were received, both belonging to the Moss rose family, the old pink moss, dating from c.1700 and the crested moss, Chapeau de Napoleon.
One a sunny day in the middle of the month we decided to build a new bed for three of them. We had a space available where the compost heap was two years ago. All the garden clippings, vegetable peels and grass clippings had transformed into lovely compost. We started by clearing the area of couch grass and digging out nettle roots and docks. After that it was time to put down some cardboard boxes and build a low stone wall around our new planting space. We find that this is an effective way to give newly planted additions a chance to develop with out to much unwanted competition.
When the wall was in place we added a few wheel barrows of well rotted cow manure and planted our new roses. We plan to add cardboard around them on top of the soil, add a layer of mulch and transplant some Ajuga reptans from other places in the garden. It is a very useful groundcover and will look lovely with the roses.The dark leaved variety in this picture from October is called ‘black scallop’.
As the bed is built up and should be well draining we plan to add some herbs as well, perhaps thyme and lavender. Now we can’t wait to see our ‘new’ old roses in full bloom, hopefully this summer.
To celebrate the winter solstice we dug up some Ocas, Oxalis tuberosa, on the darkest day of the year. It felt wonderful to be able to dig up these lovely tubers in the depth of winter. They tasted great, roasted with some olive oil in the oven.
Our circle looks a little drab at this time of year but we include pictures here as we do every month for reference.
Elsewhere in the garden we enjoyed the delicate fragrance and beauty of the Hamamelis, also known as Witch hazel. We have a lovely orange variety and it is the first year it has really put on growth.
At the end of the month the Hellebores were in full bloom and lots of Daffodils were starting to show their green foliage. We so look forward to spring and another year of living in harmony with the land.