Final winter tasks

February snowdrops

It’s the last day of February and the final day of winter (well, meteorologically at least). So, I’ve been busy in the garden completing all those final winter tasks. And the good news is, none of them took more than 15 minutes! Winter fruit tree care First, I completed my winter fruit tree care plan. Having applied a fruit tree…

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Empty nest boxes

Robin nest box nestled in ivy

If you haven’t done so already, you need to get a shift on and clear out your nest boxes. Early autumn is actually the best time, but it’s one of those jobs that can get forgotten. If you leave it too late you’ll miss out on the simple pleasure of watching birds coming and going as they build their nests…

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Chit chat

The right kind of chit: short, knobbly, green sprouts

Do you chit your seed potatoes before planting? Most amateur gardeners and allotment holders do – mine have currently taken over a window sill in an unheated bedroom – but most commercial potato growers don’t bother. So why chit? Seed potatoes with no visible shoots will start to chit from the ‘eyes’ when exposed to light and warmth. Any frost-free…

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Lily of the valley at Glynn Valley

The view from Glynn Valley crematorium remembrance gardens

This weekend involved some rather spur-of-the-moment planting at Glynn Valley Crematorium in Cornwall. Not my usual gardening hangout! On a sunny day (which it was), there are wonderful views from the top of the remembrance gardens down across a large pond into the wooded valley beyond. My dad’s ashes are buried here, in a tranquil haven under a hawthorn tree….

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Fruit tree winter wash

Apple tree in winter bud

Winter is the time I give my fruit trees some TLC, although like most jobs in my garden I’m a bit late in implementing my ‘fruit tree care plan’. This comprises: A winter wash A winter prune A winter feed This week I implemented Step 1, a fruit tree wash designed to control overwintering pests, in particular the eggs, larvae and nymphs of…

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The Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue tits - Big Garden Birdwatch

Did you take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend? If you did, and you’ve submitted your results, then you can proudly claim to have taken part in the biggest annual ‘citizen science’ event in the UK and the world’s largest wildlife survey. Around half a million people now take part every year, and last year over 7 million birds were counted….

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Seedy decisions

Vegetable seed packets

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to choose and buy your vegetable seeds for the year ahead (flowers too, of course, but I’m focusing on the veggies today). For me, that means dusting down the old biscuit tin in the shed containing the seed packets from last year and checking the sow-by dates, taking stock of what…

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The value of leaves

winter pile of beech leaves

Over the past couple of days, blustery winds (reaching speeds of over 100 mph in some places) have wreaked havoc, bringing down roof tiles, power lines and trees. Those same winds have also made a lot more leaves available to gardeners around the country. Even the beech hedge in my front garden, which always hangs on to its crispy curled…

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Mud and Tundry Pond

Dogmersfield Park Estate walk to Tundry Pond

Everyone talks about January being the bleakest of months, and for the most part it is pretty grey and dreary. So when the sun emerges and the sky turns blue … get out there! Last Sunday, the wind dropped and the sun shone over Hampshire, so we laced up our walking boots and set off – with friends – along a (very)…

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Cycling through the conifers

Moon rising over Exmoor

Our final outing in Exmoor (2nd January) saw us back inland late afternoon and on the bikes, this time starting from Timberscombe, a small village in Somerset on the river Avill. And the first leg? You guessed it … uphill! It was a ‘steady’ southbound ascent, and although I ended up in the lowest gears again, this time I didn’t…

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Exmoor tour

Valley of the Rocks

Happy New Year! Yes, 2015 has arrived, and the weather in Exmoor has changed. Grey clouds have replaced blue skies, a drizzly rain persists and the still calmness of recent days has been replaced with a howling wind. Over the past few days, we have cycled to Dunkery Beacon, walked to Selworthy Beacon and explored the Exe Valley. So, today…

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The Exe Valley

Beech tree boundary, near Exford

Exford is almost the geographical centre of Exmoor, and it is from this attractive village that we started our new year’s eve walk. At the far end of the village car park is the first of three kissing gates. Now, kissing gates are so called because the gate merely ‘kisses’ (brushes) the enclosure on either side, rather than needing to be…

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