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Check your cloches winter is back

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Helleborus in the snow by The Sunday Gardener

Winter is back with a vengeance. Braving the howling wind and horizontal snow, I ventured out  to see the worst winter had delivered. The water butt had disconnected itself and was half way down the path.   In a very sheltered spot under the trees, I had been experimenting with overwintering Pelargoniums protected by a mulch around the base and a cloche. Experiment over, the cloche had been upturned and blown away by the wind. The Pelargoniums were under deep snow so that's the end of them. I had put them outside because they had mealybugs, and I was loathed to throw them away, but couldn't leave the plants in the conservatory to infect the rest. Good only for the compost heap now.

Suddenly it is winter again and the tiny seedlings are struggling even under glass. If you have already started germinating for the summer, the best thing is to protect the seedlings as much as you can  Cover the seed trays with a propagator lid and tuck in with extra fleece. Only last week I was exposing the new seedlings to more air in the conservatory as they were getting overheated and in danger of getting leggy. Now the newly germinated cucumber plants are in danger of keeling over with a bad chill.

I suppose, that's the fascination and challenge of gardening with our weather. It is so changeable, one week spring is in the air and warm enough for shirt sleeves and the next week the Hellebores are up to their necks in snow the images left; looking very pretty but wintry.

Will the frog spawn survive? I assume so as March is often very variable although not sure usually as bad as this. Apparently metamorphosis  can be slowed down or speeded up, depending on environmental conditions, which is very clever and maybe helps them to survive.

Now spring and all that comes with it is officially late.... and it's all the fault of the jet stream again.  In March it is so tempting to start sowing everything.The magazines are full of free seeds, and tips on early sowings and there's all that enthusiasm to get going; but we can depend on  the English weather to spoil things. This cold spell is in until Easter and so I'll reluctantly put my trowel away for now.

Pink Helleborus in the snow by The Sunday Gardener


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