Jobs For January

Witch hazel coming into bloom

This Monday just passed was ‘Plough Monday’, the day which traditionally marks the start of the agricultural year. The days are already appreciably longer than they were at Christmas. We have a good 30 minutes more daylight in the afternoons now and as the month progresses, the days will lengthen at an ever-faster pace. I try to squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of the extra daylight. I refuse to come in from the garden until the light has completely gone. As the days draw out, we’re reminded that Spring really isn’t that far away at all. Jobs which in November we would happily put off with the words, “We have the whole Winter to get that done”, now seem suddenly rather pressing.

There are four big jobs which occupy us at this time of year. We cut back our herbaceous plants in readiness for new growth in the Spring. We prune the roses. We mulch all our beds with semi-composted bark. Finally, we cut down the trees which will provide our firewood next Winter.

Pruning roses is a huge job. In the Spring Garden we have 5 beds, edged with box which are entirely filled with roses. The Spring Garden has four paths, in the form of a cross, which are covered by pergolas. We have climbing and rambling roses growing over these pergolas. Their pruning alone, is the work of several days. We love roses so, needless to say, the rest of the garden also has dozens and dozens more roses, all of which need attention. Ordinarily, we are greatly assisted in this job by family at Christmas or New Year. This year of course, we are on our own.

Mulching may be the job which has to give this year. It’s another huge undertaking but we have found that it helps hugely, not just with improving our heavy clay soil but also with suppressing annual weeds. It would be a great shame if we can’t get it done this year.

Cutting back the herbaceous plants is not a difficult task and it’s one of those jobs which is instantly satisfying. I’m not a great one for a ‘tidy garden’ but there is something undeniably pleasing about beds which look ‘ready’ for Spring.

Felling the trees which will provide the fuel for next Winter is a job which can’t be shirked. We’re lucky enough to have 3 acres of woodland here and it needs managing. That includes thinning trees to allow others to develop and flourish. It is however, a big job. In normal years, it’s a job the family help with at Christmas but this year we’re tackling it alone.

With so much to do, we really do need these days to keep lengthening!

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