The first part of January was unseasonably mild and we were quite worried as many buds on trees and shrubs started to swell and lots of flowers burst open much too early in the season.
Thankfully some colder weather came in towards the end of the month and we have had a few nights of frost.
It has slowed down the budding tendencies dramatically and now we are hoping that it will remain cold for a while so that our fruit trees will get a chance to flower and fruit well this year. Winter temperatures of just above freezing and up to seven degrees Celsius are best for many traditional apples, pears, plums and cherries and they need to be maintained for approximately one thousand hours or more over the winter months. With higher temperatures due to global warming the varieties that can be grown in a particular region are reduced and this is something worth considering if you are in the process of planting fruit trees. There are new varieties being developed with less need for chilling hours.
We have espaliered six different varieties of apples down the side of our drive and after only a few years they are producing impressive yields. Most of them go into our dehydrator as slices for drying and we have just finished eating the last ones from this autumn past. We also made some lovely alcoholic apple cider and some is still maturing in bottles for a special occasion.
Apples in autumn.
These double snowdrops are particularly dear to us as we dug the bulbs up from our great Grandmother’s garden in Sweden last spring and brought them back here. We hope that they will spread into a carpet under our weeping birch.
The hellebores are a winter favourite and we have amassed a small collection over the last few years.
Around our circle things are looking quite bleak at the moment but everything is ready to grow and we look forward with anticipation to the transformation that will take place over the next couple of months. We spent a couple of afternoons in January, clearing and removing old plant matter and mulching all the raised beds.
We are looking forward to February when we will continue to clear and mulch our herb garden and the raised vegetable beds, harvest kale, chard and various tubers and start to plant the first few seeds for the coming season. We do not see February as a bleak month but rather a month full of promise and anticipation.