The gardens at Pear Tree Cottage sit in a cider apple orchard in the green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England. It enjoys a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury & Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener!

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6 January 2013

'This week I 'ave bin mostly...............'

......taking advantage of the absence of rain!


Not just dry weather but actually warm and sunny with no need for coats or jackets - well not until later.  Even the temporary moat by the new wall had dried up!  For the first time in weeks, the ground was dry enough to allow us to get some real border work done - as long as it was on tip toe!  It was out with the wheelbarrow loaded with tools and to work dead heading, weeding and tidying the lower border.  This is quite a long border with a service path at the back.  It has little Euonymous shrubs for winter colour between perennial plants with Acers and a big old Prunus at the back.  The Sarcococca is all in full bloom and the fragrance from such tiny insignificant flowers was absolutely outstanding as it wafted around in the warm sunshine.

As soon as the wheelbarrow was emptied of tools, along came Mr. Robin who sat on the side watching closely.  As the barrow was filled with debris, he kept returning and at one point hopped down beneath the pile of cuttings and didn't fly out when the next handful was gently placed on top! Little wonder he's called The Gardeners' Friend.

Newly topped grass on a high cut.
The constant wet weather meant that Sedums had been beaten down and were wet and slimy instead of standing upright displaying their dried seed heads which are encouraged to leave for winter.  Geraniums, Lychnis, Peonies all received a good tidy up and the border was forked over and edged.  Down by the summer house, where the Acanthus was taking over, a machete would have been an ideal weapon.  The mild winter meant that much of the top growth was either flattened, flopped or just wet and slimy with with untidy seed heads leaning precariously.  Normally at this time of year; cold winter weather has killed off all the leaves.  Anyway, that border too, enjoyed a good tidy up including removal of stray brambles and a dead rose.  As this year's compost heap is so full, Al had a good bonfire and burned all our rubbish as well as all the Christmas greenery.  All the wood ash produced by his burning finds its way back into the soil usually around fruit trees and raspberries  We can't wait to empty last year's compost and mulch the borders before the weeds get going..

I did have a little a go with Chris's new blower but, it was so ferocious, leaves went everywhere and I was just blown round in circles!  I liked his old one best.  The last job of the day was to move Rudolph into the garden next to Clarissa and give his antlers a prune.  Actually, that wasn't quite the last job.After we picked up all the, by now, scattered tools around the garden (in the dark) and put them away, Chris and I retired to the workshop and inscribed another couple of finger posts for Al's sign.

Rudolph meets Clarissa!
The dry weather continued - 3 days without rain now!!  It also remained surprisingly mild and warm enough to work without jackets or body warmers again and, all day.  It's been so mild in fact; the grass has been growing - not what you expect in January. It was dry enough for the grass to be topped and the lawns edged.  It's not like mowing as the blades are too high - more like hoovering!  The grass is left an even length and rid of all the tussocks.  A bit of a bonus was the fact that Homebase was offering some really decent mixed F1 hybrid Wallflower plants at £1.99 reduced from £3.50 for 6, more containers were filled with little green bargains and their tops pinched out to encourage bushy growth - all with spring in mind ........if we have one!

Some of our song birds seem to be enjoying this mild spell.  A charm (yes, isn't that a perfect collective noun? Full marks to the person who came up with that one! ) of 8 Goldfinches, 2 Redpolls and 1 Greenfinch were all squabbling on the bird feeders.  Sadly, we have a resident hawk who has been spotted picking off our much loved and defenceless little songbirds and thanks to the do-gooders of this world, we are helpless to protect them.


Talking of vermin, we are surrounded by numerous Buzzards mewling over the surrounding apple orchards: one of which carries a conviction for an assassination attempt on one of our chickens; namely Amelia.  Luckily, Amelia was too heavy and was dropped before Mr. Big Bad Buzzard gained too much height.  Apart from the claw wounds in her back, and the loss of both dignity and a few feathers, she was none the worse for her near death experience.  Nonetheless the protectors of these flying predators who try to convince us they eat nothing but carrion leave us all totally unable to defend the defenceless.  
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