Northern Exposure

Triumphs and failures on a window ledge.

Weekend Work February 8, 2009

Filed under: bulbs,Flower,Spring,Weather,Weekend Work,Winter — northernwindowgardener @ 6:15 pm
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Winter PansyA little bit of colour on a chilly mid-winter day. Yes, I count this as mid-winter. December is rarely as bad as people expect, although the lack of light makes it feel worse. February on the other hand is frequently cold and snowy. Just when people are starting to think of the warmth of spring this can come as a depressing jolt of reality.

If you’re looking for a positive spin on the cold snap then you might want to read this article in The Telegraph online. It basically suggests that there are four seasons for good reason and that the freezing temperatures will be of benefit to your gardens and allotments, helping to harden up bulbs and kill off bugs and disease.

I’m sure this will be of little comfort to many, especially those who are trying to dig into frozen soil. I’m ok with it and intuitively it makes sense to me but then I can reach every square inch of my garden from the comfort of a warm house 🙂 (more…)


Mornin’ Sun February 4, 2009

Filed under: Weather,Winter — northernwindowgardener @ 12:24 pm
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Sunny Ivy

While certain parts of the UK resemble the upper reaches of the Alps we’ve not had it so bad in Scotland. A bit snowy in places but nothing like the foot plus the south east has had. (more…)


Weather Woes December 11, 2008

Filed under: Autumn,Colour,Flower,Summer,Weather,Winter — northernwindowgardener @ 1:03 pm
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Frosty Cyclamen

Frosty Cyclamen

The last week has been a steep learning curve in just what sub-zero temperatures will do to plants. Lobelia that seemed hardy enough to be lush and green well into November have been well and truly stopped in their tracks. And anything that was planted late and was still establishing itself can forget about getting any further.

The biggest disappointment has been how the frost has hurt the Cyclamen. As the sorry specimens on the right show the delicate flowers have borne the brunt of the frost.

It’s not all bad news as some Cyclamen have soldiered on and there’s still a bit of colour around the place. The Winter Pansies were probably saved for now when they were brought inside for a couple of days during the first really deep frosts. Hopefully that gave them just enough time to keep flowering and we’ll see a burst of colour in the next few days. It’s probably too much to hope for them lasting for any length of time though given that they were planted a little late in the season.

The lesson seems to be then to get the Autumn and Winter plants in the boxes earlier and give them a chance to really establish themselves before the first frosts. Those winter plants that have been in since late August are the ones that are surviving the best. So next year the choice is either to let the Summer display keep going and have a relatively colourless Winter, or to dig things up even when they still look good, and give the Autumn and Winter plants a chance to thrive. Can’t see that being an easy choice to make!


Frost! December 3, 2008

Filed under: Watering,Weather,Winter — northernwindowgardener @ 1:59 pm
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Well now I know the destructive power of a hard frost! The last couple of weeks have had a few cold nights and yet everything seemed to be handling the lower temperatures quite well. Naively I thought that this was about as bad as it would get. How wrong was I?

Since Saturday it’s been seriously sub-zero, both at night and during long parts of the day. Throw in a lack of direct sunlight and short northern days and you get severely frozen soil. I hadn’t really noticed how bad it had got until I thought about doing a little watering on Monday morning.

It got so bad that night that I brought Chris, which has a selection of Winter Pansies that were in the cusp of flowering, into the house to thaw the soil out. The rest of the cast are braving the temperatures and I’ll learn from how they react but I’m determined to protect these Pansies as, aside from the Cyclamen, they are the only colour in the garden at the moment.

I’ve also learned a new term: Frost Heave – which is where the frost causes plants to be pushed out of the soil. It looks like most of the cyclamen have been subject to this albeit in a limited form. When the real cold snap breaks I’ll be doing a quick damage list and seeing what has made it through the first test of Winter.


Weekend Work November 22, 2008

Filed under: Autumn,Flower,Weather,Winter — northernwindowgardener @ 10:44 am
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Time for a real tidy up this weekend. It’s turned cold again and the forecast is for low temps to dominate and probably the first real frost. Not sure if this means it’s a good or bad time to trim back the straggly Pansies and Violas but it’s the only time available. What’s the worst that could happen! (don’t answer!)

Cleaned away a lot of rotten leaves and brutally trimmed anything that looked like it was going to get seriously knocked about in the wind. It’s nice and calm today but for the last couple of weeks it’s been gusty for at least two or three days and everything was getting knocked around.

The Winter Pansies that were put in four weeks ago are starting to fill out so they all got tied individually to a stake made from a trimmed garden cane. In my limited experience this has helped younger plants to stay in one piece when the winds come. The Pansies that were planted last week really are the runt of the litter and still look terrible – good chance they were left too long inside and won’t make it through any really cold spell.

Swapped two boxes (Shelly and Ed) around mainly for ornamental reasons and we’ll see how the cyclamen do in the really shady spot. Other than that everthing else was in good shape and hopefully they’ll just need basic care for the next month or so.