7 January 2016
A wet and windy start
Yesterday the sun finally came out, water vapour rose off every damp surface and from the wide blue sky shafts of light warmed the back of my neck. It was wonderful! By the evening the rain had returned and this morning a cold wind has blown in making the garden feel a good ten degrees colder.
It's certainly been a strange start to the year. The unending rain which drenched the garden throughout December came to a head on Sunday when the river rose up bursting its banks, threatening the house and making the lane impassable, even to four wheel drives. That day I parked about a mile away and hiked across the hill tops before dropping down into the garden. There had been a pause in the rain and I hoped to take advantage of it by clearing the bridges of debris. On my way across I had visions of widespread destruction, mud and chaos, I can't tell you how relieved I was when I arrived to find very little damage at all. The massive investment in drainage had served its purpose well and although the river had been temporary master of the garden, a more normal order was quickly restored.
This week the river has continued to rise and fall back with each passing shower but the general pattern seems to be changing finally. It has left the plants though rather confused. Where I would normally only expect to find a few winter aconites, we have snowdrops and a profusion of hellebores, spring bulbs are bursting up all over the garden and we even have a reticulated iris flowering in the courtyard and bulb meadow!
The garden looks washed clean by the rains, prior to their arrival the garden looked very muddy and dull. The challenge now is to try to get as much garden work done as possible while trying to stay off of the beds and lawns; the soil structure can very easily be damaged now by compaction. This week we have been pruning the step over apples and pear arches in the kitchen garden and are now pruning the crab apples in the courtyard, the frames for which will need replacing now too. We will have to be a little bit frugal with our hazel supply, despite being encircled by hazel coppices there is a finite supply of suitable material and we already have lots of people signed up to come and make rose domes on February 16th.
It's been a wild wet start to the new year here at Allt-y-bela but it's great to be back and I'm really looking forward to being part of the garden over the next 12 months!
Words: Steve Lannin
Photographs: Britt Willoughby Dyer