2 months. Almost 9 weeks. 62 days. You could be forgiven for thinking I'd hung up my hat and gone home. In a way, I have! But these are the cold hard facts and I'm putting them upfront because they're shocking and I'm embarrassed. The worse thing is that whilst I could give you an overview as to where the time has gone, there's no way I can account for 62 days. Sure, there's been a whirl of interstate travel punctuated by brutal windstorms and then unbelievable days of Indian Summer in Winter. But we're now two-thirds of the way through winter and to be honest, I'm panicking and often sit on the back steps feeling overwhelmed. But the scent of Spring is on the breeze and my broad beans have germinated. Blossoms are busting out all over, pierus is cascading and the rhodos and camellias are ready to dominate. And all over Magic Garden, pockets of daffodil and jonquil are erupting. Snowdrops are bobbing and grape hyacinths and purple crocus compete against Oprah Winfrey for a role in the reprise of the Colour Purple. Crocus is up in terms of sheer numbers but the hyacinths have a more intense hue. Who'll take the Oscar this time, I wonder?
Garden-wise, Winter has a reputation for being a period of dormancy; it's permissible to let things slide. But it is also one of the best times to make hard decisions about the shape of your garden. For me, the toughest choice I've made of late is to toss that old hat in the shot above. It's been a trusty part of my garden couture but there's only so many times you can repair the crown of straw hat before you start looking more jingle-jangle scarecrow than Flake lady. When trees are bare and legs are hairy, you can see the structure more clearly so it's a good time to identify plants which aren't working in the overall landscape and earmark them for transplantation when the weather warms. Plants which aren't thriving at all can simply be removed. In Magic Garden, I've nominated some rather spindly Azaleas which are for the tip and a big patch of seaside daisy which needs to be cut back before it completely engulfs the hebes. I've decided where I'll relocate the weeping Cherry if we ever renovate and I've finally started construction on a ring bed around the base of one of the biggest cherry trees. Next autumn, I'll pop in some of my many scattered daffodil bulbs and this time next year, share the joy.
During my meditations on the back step, I've been trying to come up with space for one of these divine chinese flowering quinces. The crimson cultivars of the superba are the perfect antidote to the fairy floss pink of the prunus which dominate at this time of year. Plus, I love the clash of pink and red together. The flowers emerge from a thicket of rather spiny stems which can reach heights of around 1.5 metres. Their spread is nearly 2 metres which makes me wonder if maybe I should aiming higher and be planning a hedge instead.