Well It Could Have Been Worse..


The snow didn’t last long.

Fortunately the garage is at the top of the hill.




 Bunny tracks

By the following day it had already started to melt, taking with it the evidence of the very many creatures which roam through during the night. Up until now I’d assumed that the deer stayed mainly at the lower level of the garden, down by the river. Not so. There were slot marks all over the Precipitous Bank.



And whatever followed this route took its life in its hands.. The drop over the edge is at least four feet with solid concrete below.




But the snow has now gone and I can’t say I’m sorry. We recorded a low of -7C with a reported windchill of -12C. That is cold for this part of the UK. The tour of inspection was undertaken with some trepidation, not least for a gardener who pushes the boundaries of hardiness to the limit and most probably beyond. There is one known casualty. A cucumber seedling. It’s not too late to re-sow.



Phormium ‘Chocomint’

The most tender plants find themselves a place on the south facing terraces, sheltered from the worst of the weather and enjoying the benefit of any warmth retained in the stone walls. It seems to work although drainage could definitely be improved.


Cistus argenteus 'Silver Pink'


Cistus argenteus ‘Silver Pink’, against the winter bleached leaves of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

A little the worse for wear perhaps but it should survive.



Hellebore, random seedling


Having mentioned that it felt like Spring just a couple of posts ago I am keeping my mouth firmly shut this time. On Tuesday, buoyed by a Met Office forecast suggesting that temperatures were on the rise (no frost for at least a week), I planted out two hellebores, cut back several grasses and began the job of pruning the roses. The following morning we woke to a further dusting of snow and a temperature of -2C, five whole degrees below the advertised minimum. Oh well, hellebores and roses are tough old things.


Magnolia 'Leonard Messel'


Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’

I’ve had this Magnolia about six years. At its most floriferous it has managed a sum total of three blooms. This year it is smothered in buds. Finally. I’ve been watching them gently swell all winter and so far it’s looking good.


Anemanthele lessoniana


Anemanthele lessoniana, backlit in the low afternoon sun


At last the days are noticeably lengthening. It is almost 6.30 p.m. as I write and there is still light left in the sky. All we need now is a bit of a dry spell and I can really get cracking. Near the top of the extensive to do list.. prune a honeysuckle that has vastly over extended its space and move an abutilon that I carelessly planted in too much shade. It’s the right time of year to do both. It’s also the right time of year for the blackbirds to start nesting.



See her? Upper centre of the shot.

She has the run of the garden. So where does she choose? The very spot on the tool shed wall where the aforementioned honeysuckle and the abutilon meet. I really do give up.


2018-03-09T14:21:46+00:00March 8th, 2018|Tags: , , |


  1. Ali March 8, 2018 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Beautiful buds! I have a pathetic star magnolia which has only ever had about three buds on, and is horribly misshapen. That looks like a lovely hellebore too – is it slightly peachy?

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      It is slightly peachy, grown from seed so a complete surprise but it’s become one of my favourites! I’m discovering that if I can get them to establish the seed grown plants are far more robust than the bought in ones.

  2. pollymacleod March 8, 2018 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Lovely post Jessica, it’s interesting to see the various tracks in the snow. -7C brrr, I thought we had cold weather here but I think our lowest was -5C. Your garden looks delightful even in the gloomiest weather.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:14 pm - Reply

      I was surprised by how many tracks there are. The deer prints went right across one of my best clumps of hellebores. Humph. They clearly have no fear of even the steepest bank and in one place leapt over a fence. There really is no way I can keep them out.

  3. ginaferrari March 8, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    I’m well and truly ready for spring now. The garden is just so wet and muddy it is impossible to do anything.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      I know. And every time it shows the slightest sign of drying out another rain storm moves in. All I can realistically do is look at it and hope Spring arrives here soon.

  4. justjilluk March 8, 2018 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Trip wires on the precipitous slope so long as you remember where they are. And now its nesting season there is nothing you can legally do regards the birds. Ha.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      I shan’t be doing anything about Mrs Blackbird, she is welcome to nest. It would be handy though if she could get used to us being around so I can at least weed the bed underneath her. I planted two hellebores there the day before I spotted the nest and didn’t get dive-bombed so maybe that’s already happened.

  5. Kris Peterson March 8, 2018 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Wildlife generally refuse to cooperate with our plans, don’t they? Maybe it’s not too late to encourage Ms. Blackbird to build elsewhere. I had a hummingbird build a nest in Bougainvillea alongside the garage at our former house – every time the garage door opened it pushed the Bougainvillea upward. She moved out on her own.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      Well I can avoid the blackbird’s nest but it’s a bit more difficult if you have to get the car out! Lucky she took matters into her own hands.. wings?

  6. Caro March 8, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Let’s hope spring now has one foot through the door. Hellebores have survived here, spring flowers are looking promising and I just managed a quick prune of the pear trees before the leaf buds open – at least I got two thirds finished then spotted a tiny nest high up in the branches. Can’t see if it’s occupied but these trees are favourites with blue tits in the spring so best left alone now. That’s a very comfy looking nest that your blackbird has built.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      The blackbirds usually nest in the bank immediately behind the house. In a way I’m glad she’s moved, she would be disturbed for sure when they came to work on the roof. She is in a main thoroughfare though and she’ll have to get used to that.

  7. Pauline March 8, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    We got off lightly compared to north Devon where you could hardly see the tops of the signposts. Thank goodness it has all now gone and is just a bad memory, maybe now spring can return! We once had a wren who had her nest on our swinging seat, she must have been swung rather a lot before we noticed her, we then had our morning coffee elsewhere!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      It is amusing where they choose to nest, sometimes you really do wonder why. In our last house I used an old summerhouse as a makeshift greenhouse. One day a blackbird flew in through the open door and started a nest on one of the shelves. I had to leave the door open all the time after that, regardless of temperature. But somehow everything survived and we even got to see the babies fledge.

  8. germac4 March 8, 2018 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Looks as if Spring is just around the corner … It is amazing that so many plants have survived your nasty biting cold winds, and glad to see the Magnolia is looking promising. Love Mrs Blackbird’s in built radar!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      It has been really cold for this part of England, I am more than ready for Spring now. Especially as it appears to have turned back to rain which is just so miserable. The magnolia gets better by the day. If the wretched squirrels find the buds it will be a disaster.

  9. Cortney March 8, 2018 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    I take for granted how hardy our plants are here and how devastating a heavy snow like that can be! I’m glad to hear the only fatality so far is a cucumber that can be easily replaced!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      I’m becoming acutely aware of how restricted my plant choices are here although it’s more because of the wet than the cold. There are few perennials that take kindly to the heavy, cold, wet soil they get to sit in all winter. The slope helps with drainage a bit but if it is to be a lower maintenance garden I will need to look more closely at shrubs.

  10. Susan Garrett March 8, 2018 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    We had a second helping of snow today but it had just about disappeared by lunchtime, the ground is now sodden.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Same here Sue. And there’s so much to do, it’s so frustrating.

  11. Charles March 8, 2018 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    I put in a massive effort and got my red onions, shallots and broad beans in and the tomatoes indoors were pushing to get out. Then we had weather, -9 or 10 in Somerset, too much snow and nasty winds. However the toms are now ok in the greenhouse and there is always time to replant. Total devastation is ok, it’s when you get a random 50% fatality rate that life gets more annoying.

    Large gaps or odd mixes of old and new plants. However it was nice to have some proper weather, we were only snowed in for two days, the heating worked, the wood supply was fine, the red wine lasted, as did the gin and whiskey. Food supplies were also adequate.

    I do love the way the wildlife permeates your garden, and it still looks better than mine! I did see a couple of redwings and either a woodcock or a snipe, living on the levels it could have been either. However if you want rooks, jackdaws or starlings just ask!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you survived the weather with adequate provisions! Gaps in a mature garden are annoying. Are you anywhere near Hauser and Wirth? Visited a couple of years back and loved the Piet Oudolf display of grasses and perennials (no gaps). Food is good too. Gallery.. interesting. No need for more rooks or jackdaws. But I’ve never seen a single starling here. Or a sparrow. I find that quite odd.

  12. Beth @ PlantPostings March 9, 2018 at 3:52 am - Reply

    Isn’t that always the way it works? Wasn’t it John Lennon who said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans”? Your recent weather is so normal for us, but not for you. Fortunately, spring is coming for both of us now.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      We don’t really know what the weather is going to throw at us next these days, except that we will have to get used to living with more extremes. The only given seems to be that for us it will get wetter and I will have to adjust what I grow accordingly.

  13. sigrun March 9, 2018 at 4:35 am - Reply

    Good morning, for Britain you had a lot of snow! We live also on the top of the hill with icy winds and no snow in this year, in my garden a lot of plants are damaged, especially the Helleborus orientalis lay down and will not bloon this year, only some. What a loss! A lot of other plants have frost damage, to have snow is better! I wish you a nice and busy weekend in the garden!


    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:03 pm - Reply

      It’s usually the other way around and you get the snow! I’m sorry to hear about your hellebores, mine are getting eaten by something and it’s so sad to see blooms either missing or being left broken on the ground.

  14. Chloris March 9, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

    I was amazed at all the different tracks in the snow here. Who’d have thought the garden was such a busy place when we’re not watching? Anyway the snow has gone, so now if it would only stop raining we could get on.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      I’m tempted to get the field camera out again having seen the evidence of all the night time activity. If nothing else to find out who is to blame for eating my hellebores.

  15. Vera Coe March 9, 2018 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Glad you didn’t get much snow…in fact less than we did. Didn’t see any animal tracks, but I didn’t go out and about on the farm so there would have been some. Temperatures have rocketed up to 18C plus here……which is wonderful!!!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Oh, wonderful indeed. How I would love to have that much warmth again. It was quite sunny yesterday afternoon and in the greenhouse must have got close to that. It made me feel almost human again!

  16. derrickjknight March 9, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

    You made good use of the snow, while you had it, with your camera

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      It’s such an unusual event these days I had to record it!

  17. mwillburn March 9, 2018 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    The days are lengthening – Hallelujah! Our severe cold came at the beginning of January and sustained itself for far too long. Very little precipitation and as a result we are all looking at a fair amount of die back and browning from our broad leaf and coniferous evergreens on the East Coast of US. Such a shame, but there you go – a gardener’s life is far from perfect.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      That is a shame. There is no doubt about it the weather is getting more extreme everywhere. Unfortunately the worst of the frosts came before the snow here, it would have been kinder the other way around but it wasn’t to be.

  18. Christina March 9, 2018 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Glad your snow wasn’t too bad. Fun while it lasts as long as that isn’t more than a few days! Fingers crossed that spring really is on the way now.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:24 pm - Reply

      Oh yes please, I am more than ready for Spring!

  19. Peter March 9, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Let’s hope this was the last of the cold for this season! Silly blackbird. I find that one feels much better once she’s given up all hope of getting anything done in the garden.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed. The only way is up!

  20. aberdeen gardening March 9, 2018 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    It was a very bad spell of weather, great to see signs of Spring in your garden. We had severe weather for ten days or so, last couple of days has given us sunshine with a bit of heat to it.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      I was in the Highlands during the winter of 2009/10 and I remember temperatures of -18C on the car’s dashboard display. Very challenging to get around so I can sympathise. Ten days though, that’s a long haul.

  21. Brian Skeys March 9, 2018 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    You would think after all the bird food you provided Jessica, the least the Blackbirds could do is build their nest in the right place!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:34 pm - Reply

      It would have been the considerate thing to do wouldn’t it. Mrs Blackbird can see the feeders from her nest, I have a feeling that’s why she put it where she did..

  22. Torrington Tina March 9, 2018 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos of your winter wonderland. We have realised that when the wind from the east is that cold and dramatic there are several plants that will not stand up to it, especially cisitus. Oh well, that will be an opportunity to try other things. We did not have the coverage of snow that you had down in your dell, but we did have some weird and wonderful snowdrifts!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      I noticed today the cistus not looking as good as it did a couple of days ago, I may yet lose mine too. I was already beginning to think I should curb my impulses to buy borderline plants, I can do without the angst!

  23. Denise March 9, 2018 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    We had about a bucketful of snow in our area. I had to watch the news to convince myself there was actually snow falling elsewhere. I love the photo of the heather, by the way.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      I noticed watching GW on Friday that Monty didn’t have that much snow and thought of you. It did look bloomin’ cold though!

  24. Indie March 10, 2018 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Ha, that is funny about the nest! I heard about how much cold you guys are having there. That must have been quite a shock for your poor plants! At least they had the snow to insulate them. We’ve had quite the snowy March after a strangely spring-like February, so I’m right there with you, wishing for that spring weather back!

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      Sadly the frost came before the snow but I think in the main we got away with it. I”m starting to see a few more brown leaves now though which is worrying. Yes, the sooner we get some warmth back the better!

  25. MusingintheMeadows March 10, 2018 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    It’s amazing how different the landscape looks in the snow! Hope the last of the snow has left you and you can start looking forward to Spring in earnest.

    • Jessica March 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      Newly fallen snow, especially with a bit of sunshine, is so pretty isn’t it? Less so the sludgy aftermath. It just needs to dry out now, so we can step back on the soil without that sinking feeling!

  26. Cathy March 12, 2018 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Such fun seeing all the tracks and where they lead, and fortunately no carcases at the bottom of the precipitous bank… Hope you managed to get out and tackle some tasks after the snow and before this wet week that is forecast

    • Jessica March 12, 2018 at 9:54 am - Reply

      The tracks suggested that a deer hopped down the very steepest part of the bank and right through my hellebores. But they are so sure footed. Wish I was the same up there on that slope!

  27. Linda B. from Each Little World March 12, 2018 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    We’ve had a snowy Feb. and March so far. Like you, I am hoping it is over. I’m seeing lots of rabbit tracks in my garden. Where is the fox when you need him?!

    • Jessica March 12, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply


I'd love to hear from you..