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A Frosty Reception

A Frosty Reception
Posted on 09/01/09 | Posted by The Fat Gardener

The New Year has now arrived and we have been immediately seized in a frozen grip (similar to the one we had just before Christmas).

The Quality Garden Tools team are wrapped up well against the icy winds and whilst Silky Saws, loppers, Tina Knives and Felco Secateurs are selling well, not many Bulldog spades and forks are being sold. Could it be that the ground is now too frost hardened even for the hardy British gardener – don’t forget digging is a good way to keep warm!

On a more serious note, many of us believed all the garden writers who wrote in the Spring of 2008 warning us about the horticultural dangers of global warming. Many of us instantly filled our borders with Mediterranean and tropical plants, the only problem being that the wind is now blowing from Siberia rather than the Sahara. I have tried to protect my best specimens of plants like Dicksonia Antartica, Cordyline Australis and Agave Americana (This becomes hardier the bigger it grows) by wrapping them up against the cold with straw, fleece and garden twine.

The temperature in my garden has been as low as -5°C this week (not as low as some areas of Great Britain) and even my potted Olea Europea standards which have always survived Winter without any protection are showing signs of frost damage (despite a protective October pruning).

All this leaves us sturdy gardeners in a bit of a dilemma: the Summer was wet and the Winter so far has been very cold. How much fun can a Mediterranean plant be having? I know that 2008 was probably a better year in Southern Spain than in Southern England for this type of plant!

On the positive side, my garden looks great with the frost hanging on old seedheads, box topiary shapes, grasses and plant supports. A clear frosty morning can be very beautiful as the fragile morning light appears and the frost crystals shimmer. It is also very important to the successful germination of many seeds that they undergo a period of low temperature, not breaking out of their Winter dormancy until the rising temperatures of Spring.

Let’s all hope that this Winter’s frosty reception is not too hard on our plant stocks, remember Spring will be here sooner than we think.

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