January in the Garden

Here I am, pottering about in my garden again. I must say, the weeks fly by and it’s soon time to write another column for Garden News Magazine.

I hope you enjoy today’s article. I’ve had some lovely letters of support from readers saying my ‘potterings’ have kept them upbeat and busy during the pandemic. I’m pleased to see many readers have been inspired to have a go at different gardening techniques, or decided to grow something new. And many say the recipes are tasty, and always turn out well. What a relief!

Here’s some additional photos the editor didn’t use for the column. It’s fascinating to see which ones they choose. I submit about 10 for them to select from. It takes about a day to decide what to write about, take the photos and then actually sit down and compose the piece. It’s 350 words – which is actually quite a challenge. I try to say a lot in not many words. I edit it three times before I send it, taking out any spare words each time. What a luxury it is to write the blog. No one is checking the word count on here.

My hazel plant supports in the snow. New rods have replaced any that snapped, and have been woven along the centre to add strength. We seem to be getting stormier summers, so plant supports have to be extra sturdy.

Some sweet peas I grew last summer. I’ve sown some in autumn, but the second sowing now will provide plants that flower right through to November. Successional sowing extends the season.

Seeds come from https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Flower-Seed/Sweet-Pea-Seed/#.X_dxARDfWfA.

And https://www.visiteaston.co.uk/shop/gardening/seeds/easton-walled-gardens-mix.

Here’s a photo of ‘Sunshine’ climbing French beans. Highly recommended, easy to grow and prolific. We have a freezer full, and they only take a few minutes to cook from frozen. All the flavour and goodness is captured for tasty winter meals. I’ll be starting my bean seed in May. Don’t start them off too early as they cannot be planted out until the first week of June. If sown too early, they become leggy and weak. They are very fast growing.

Bean seeds come from https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Pea-and-Bean-Seeds/Climbing-Bean-Seeds/Climbing-French-Bean-Sunshine.html#.X_dw0hDfWfA

Here’s a larger photo of the willow heart flower arrangement in the potting shed window. It’s made from Paperwhite narcissi, alstroemeria from the poly tunnel and dried gypsophila and honesty seeds from summer. The foliage is eucalyptus saved from Christmas floral arrangements. Flowers are held in a jam jar covered in moss which has garden string twined around it, kokadama -style. We are all trying to do without florists’ foam, and using jam jars, and tiny glass test tubes works really well.

See more ideas, join zoom -and in person lessons- with Georgie Newbery at Common Farm Flowers : https://www.commonfarmflowers.com/collections/workshops

Paperwhites came from Gee-Tee Bulbs https://www.gee-tee.co.uk/

Gypsophila and honesty seeds from https://higgledygarden.com/

I mention new birds boxes. I wrote about CJ Wildlife supplies here: https://bramblegarden.com/2019/01/30/nest-boxes-and-bird-feeders-for-the-garden/

The RSPB nesting material is from: https://shopping.rspb.org.uk/nest-box-accessories/nesting-wool-refill.html

And finally, the rhubarb upside down cake recipe can be found here: https://bramblegarden.com/2020/04/18/rhubarb-cakes-family-favourite-recipes/

Thank you for reading and getting in touch. It’s much appreciated. And a very Happy New Year to you all.

I’m @kgimson on twitter

Karengimson1 on instagram

Do say hello on social media.

18 thoughts on “January in the Garden

  1. I have to confess to enjoying the process of editing, not that I have had to be concerned with a word count for some time, but I like the discipline of reducing unnecessary words and phrases! I am pleased to hear that you have many loyal readers for your column (and blog, of course!), who find the content useful – you cover a range of topics to pique everyone’s interest, YOur willow heart arrangement looks stunning!
    I hope your Christmas plans worked well in the constrained circumstances and that you and your family are coping with the current restrictions

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  2. Thanks for the snippet from ‘Garden News’ Karen. Although I didn’t buy it weekly I used to buy the odd copy in the days when I was supermarket shopping and do miss that occasional treat. I like the sound of the ‘Sunshine’ climbing beans. I always grow ‘Cobra’ but maybe time for a change. What is the other bean in your basket?

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  3. Gosh, how do you remember which audience you are writing for? Here is easygoing, as you say, so that is memorable 😉

    A good and safe New Year to You. Wishing you every success with your adventures in gardening. X

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  4. Politician many years ago reportedly said why use three words when two would do. Dammed if he was a real politician at all!
    Hazel support looks great. That’s on my list of things. (Hello from Ireland 🇮🇪)

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  5. Karen last year you grew sweet peas – I love the picture – Sunshine climbing green beans that take so little time to grow and are so easy to cook even frozen – fantastic – and pumpkins. I love the support structure of hazel posts under the snow, and that you’ve reinforced with more hazel posts. Karen this year you have planted Thunbergia, Susan with black eyes and Sweet Peas; strawberries and rhubarb: I love it. You have put boxes for birds and a basket with nesting material for the birds to serve themselves to make the nest: I love it. In the polytunnel you have blooming alstroemeria, Paperwhite daffodils, narcissi and dried Gypsophila: I love it. Karen your Garden News article has delighted me with everything you have told and the photos. I am very happy that you receive letters from readers of the magazine supporting you and thanking you for your ideas: I love it. 350 words are too few for everything you have to say. Good thing you have your Bramble Garden blog to write anything you want! Karen what a magnificent and wonderful willow heart shaped flower arrangement, I love it. Alstroemeria, Paperwhite Daffodils, Dried Gypsophila, Honesty Seeds, and Eucalyptus, with the mossy glass jar for the flowers, I love it. What a precious bird box! She has read the links on your blog and RSPB: super interesting, I love it. Thank you very much for the family recipe for the tasty rhubarb cake. Karen thank you for writing your wonderful blog. Health, strength, encouragement, positive thinking, a lot of hope and a lot of love for your whole family, Mr B and for you. Loving caresses for the Three Musketeers. Karen lots of hugs and lots of love for everyone. Have a very Happy New Year and happy gardening. Have a good weekend. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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      • Karen had a great time in the Shed accompanied by the Three Musketeers. Here in Spain and especially in Madrid, the storm Filomena has caused it to snow nonstop and very hard from Friday at 07:00 to today Saturday at 17:30. Last night when I went to sleep you could no longer distinguish the sidewalks of the roads and the cars covered by snow. This morning the snow came to people above the knee, mid-thigh. People made paths in the snow with home brooms. The cars completely covered, mine included. Trees laden with snow. The window of my father’s room and mine had half snow. And nobody from the City Council has come to clean the snow: it is a shame. Tomorrow Sunday will be sunny and also on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday …, and temperatures will plummet. We will reach -14ºC at night and -5ºC during the day, which means that all the snow is going to freeze, because now at 7:20 p.m. we are at -2ºC. And tomorrow the temperatures drop. People skiing through Madrid, sledding, making snowmen, snowball fights and enchanted dogs. The Government asks that you do not leave home and that you do not take your car if it is not for an emergency. Many roads are closed and many people have been trapped in their cars on the roads since yesterday and rescued today and many have spent 24 hours in the car – a disgrace. The army has finally come to help, the Military Emergency Unit that is trained to act quickly. They came announcing Filomena and what was going to happen from Monday and the Government of the Community of Madrid (what would be a state) has done nothing, has not prepared. At 4:00 p.m. there were some poor street sweepers on television removing snow from the sidewalks with the shovels they use as a dustpan: it is insane, without a snowsuit, without snow boots, and that is not their job, they are sweepers. Karen forgives that she has expanded with you in my criticisms of the government’s lack of foresight, but I think that if something happens to my mother, an ambulance or a doctor cannot come to treat her and I cannot take her to the hospital. My car or any of them cannot circulate with 60 cm of snow high even if I put chains on it !!!!!! That’s what really worries me. My mother and I are at home warm and we are not going out at all: we have food until the middle of next week. I still do a blog with Filomena’s snow: I have taken a lot of photos with the phone. Since 1904 it has not snowed like this in Madrid. Karen stay warm. Happy weekend. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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      • Dear Margarita. I’ve seen the photos on the television news, and thought of you straight away. How awful and frightening for you. All you can do is stay safe and keep warm. Keep safe until the authorities can clear the snow. This is truly a terrible start to 2021! Thoughts very much with you and your mother. Take care and stay safe. Much love and affectionate greetings. Thinking of you both. Karen xxxx

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      • Karen, thank you very much for your words of encouragement and affection. Now it is 8:30 p.m. on Monday the 11th and no one has appeared on my street or in my area to clear the snow. They are only cleaning in the center of Madrid. In the suburbs where I live they don’t clean. Only the neighbors themselves with shovels have made some small pieces of paths on the sidewalks and have removed the snow from the entrance of a few portals. But since it freezes and by day we are below zero, the snow now remains turned into ice, which is much more dangerous. Many cars were cleaned yesterday by their owners with brooms and then with rags. I have not cleaned mine because if I do it with the layer of snow-ice it has, I will get my feet, legs, arms wet and I will catch a cold to spend a week in bed with a fever. It’s not worth the car, I’m worth more myself and my health. Today my dear Mother and I have gone down to the street to a very small grocery store that is two blocks away from ours to buy milk and some things that we had run out of. I did not want my mother to go down the ice but I could not remove the idea of ​​going down. I have good hiking boots with good soles with a lot of pattern and I have put them on. My mother with her sneakers clinging to my arm and with her cane while I held her, we were walking very slowly through the virgin snow-ice without stepping on where the sidewalk was not clean. We have bought and we have returned in the same way and loaded with bags up to the top in her free arm. I have taken the opportunity to take some photos with one hand with the phone at street level, since it is the first time we went out. It is the same as yesterday and the day before yesterday and the day before. My dear Mother and I will not move from home anymore and we will be warm and safe at home and we will take good care of ourselves. Thank you very much for your encouragement Karen. Take good care of yourself and warm yourself. Hugs and lots of love for everyone. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx 😘🤗🙏🧤🧣

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  6. You seem to be able to multitask,a gardener, cook and flower arranger. Now I can only manage one task at a time as father time is fast catching up with me. I wish you all the best in the coming year and do keep telling people how and why to garden.

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