Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘snowdrops’

Bare Root Weekend

What a difference a week makes. The -16°C of last weekend seems a distant memory after a week of quite mild temperatures. All the snow has gone and the soil has thawed out, which is quite fortunate because all our bare root hedging and coppicing trees arrived this week. Luckily the weather was favourable and we managed to get all the coppicing trees in the ground and about half of the hedging. I also planted some Snowdrops and Bluebells in the green as well as some Ramsons (wild garlic).

We purchased all our bare root plants from the hedge nursery ( here’s the link  http://www.hedgenursery.co.uk/).

We chose the coppice mix, which is made up of Osier Willow, Ash and Hazel, to plant as part of our windbreak. We’ve basically planted a line around the middle paddock where the muck heap is. This paddock is about half way up the land. Together with the willow cuttings that we’ve planted at the very bottom of our land this will hopefully be quite effective at reducing the power of the wind.

 We also bought a native hedging mix made up of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Common Dogwood, Field Maple and Crab Apple. We’ve planted a single row of hedging along the perimeter of the horticultural area and we’ll plant another single row along the perimeter of the neighbouring paddock.

The purpose of this hedging is twofold. Firstly, to further protect the horticultural area from the wind but also to provide a bit of biodiversity and flower/nectar supply around the horticultural area. In the future we would like to have bees and if we want them to stay we’ll need to make sure there is a plentiful food supply nearby. All of the land surrounding our smallholding is divided up into very large agricultural fields with little in the way of hedgerow; presenting a wide expanse of monoculture which isn’t particularly bee friendly. Together with our plans to introduce more native wildflowers hopefully Hooters Hall smallholding will become a little bee ( and other pollinators) friendly oasis amidst the desert of productive monoculture.

Here’s a picture of the snowdrops I planted, because they were in the green you get a very nice instant effect.

This picture shows the single row native hedging that we’ve planted along the perimeter of the horticultural area. You can see the polytunnel frame as well.

This picture shows the coppice mix that we’ve planted as a windbreak about halfway down our land around the perimeter of the muck heap paddock. The second picture gives you an idea of where the paddock is situated in the land. We’ve planted the bareroot trees all along both north to south running perimeters of the paddock. The wind seems to mostly come from the South West.

Fingers crossed all the hedging and trees for the windbreak take and in a few years time the land should look quite different and be  a lot less windy.

As well as my snowdrops I planted some Ramsons (wild garlic) around the back garden and behind the polytunnel. I also planted some in pots as  bit of an experiment.

Spring is coming !

It may not seem like it with the wing howling outside (up to 10km / hour today ) but the temperature has been in double figures for the past few days (currently 10°C)

The chickens have started laying eggs everyday again.

The snowdrops are flowering

The hedgerow is starting to break bud.

And the comfrey is emerging from its underground hibernation.

 It’s easy to get carried away at the first signs of spring approaching but we’re not out of the danger zone for frost yet. For London the last frost is usually around late April. Frost dates vary depending on where you are in the country. The gardenaction website has a handy frost dates calculator. Just click on UK, USA or Australia depending on where you are and then choose your nearest town. Here’s the link: http://www.gardenaction.co.uk/main/weather.asp 

I’m going to be finalising my plans for the allotment in a pot project this week so I’ll be posting my planting plans throughout the week.

Snowdrops Galanthus nivalis

The other bulbs I’m going to be planting this weekend are the snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis. First named by Carl Linnaeus in 1735 the latin translates as milk (gala) flower (anthos) of the snow (nivalis). A very literal description of this delicate yet hardy native perennial that braves the January cold brightening up those dark winter days with the first hint of the spring to come.  There are a variety of old colloquial names for this little plant as well, including; February fairmaids, dingle- dangle, candlemas bells, Mary’s tapers and in parts of Yorkshire snow piercer’s. The snowdrop is native to much of Europe and although often thought of as a British native there is evidence that it may have been brought to Britain by the Romans or possibly introduced even later in the early 16th century. 

Often found in woodlands and copses in the wild it’s no surprise that the snowdrop enjoys a partially sunny position with plenty of organic matter to feed the bulbs. The white flowers are borne on slender stalks, the leaves narrow and up to 15 cm long. There are dozens of garden cultivars many bred from the closely related Galanthus elwesii from Europe. In sheltered positions they may flower in time for Christmas but more usually they flower in January or February. After flowering add a good mulch of leaf mould or compost and dig up overcrowded bunches to transplant. Once established they will spread easily.

If you’ve got space on your smallholding a carpet of snowdrops is a beautiful thing especially on a grey January day. For those with limited space why not try a container or squeeze some in the flower beds, taking advantage of their early flowering to provide a bit of year round interest.  If you fancy a day out there are many gardens with snowdrop displays all around the UK that are well worth a  visit.  Here’s a list  http://www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk/snowdrops.htm