Recent winters have been so mild that I have become rather relaxed about protecting plants but I keep hearing about the hard winter that is to come. Many tender plants were happed up in fleece or covered with a thick layer of straw in October, but I have some more wrapping to do including the vivid blue sub-shrub, Ceratostigma willmottianum, which has stopped flowering. I have also put roofs over my troughs as alpines hate winter wet. The coloured leaves that lit up the borders in October now carpet the lawn and we gathered up yet more windfalls from the Bramley, leaving some for the blackbirds and fieldfares.
In October, I expanded my collection of narcissi with a few new varieties from Avon bulbs. Rijnveldt’s Early Sensation (an old hybrid) is a classic yellow trumpet-type daffodil that may flower as early as January amongst the snowdrops. I also planted Lucifer, star-shaped with a bright orange trumpet (raised in Ireland before 1890 and named for the Archangel), the miniature Segovia (white with a flattened pale lemon trumpet) and the cyclamineus Mite (also originated in Ireland), which came in a very tiny and insignificant “pack of one” that I overlooked and had to retrieve from the bin amongst the packing paper. I must have been feeling particularly parsimonious when I put in the order in July.
Soon the first snow drops will emerge and I have already encouraged them with a feed of bone meal. Next year I am going to be very vigilant when it comes to slugs and snails. A cold winter should help.