High winds and snow storms.
For the start of the year the garden faces first a series of of high winds then snow storms sweeping through. For a time it is effectively cut off from its surroundings as high drifts make the track all but impassible.
The wind storms are brief but willow trees in particular suffer – already sitting in waterlogged ground they need little persuasion to let go and topple over. The lower part of the Parkland in particular sees quite a bit of damage.
In the snow also there are lots of branches and trees down – but all seem to have collapsed gently – the weight of the snow pushing them down until they snap. Thankfully none of the covered sculptural works are affected.
So as a result of both the wind and snow there has been much cutting and clearance – mostly in the parkland areas but also around the loch and moor and in the woods. In many ways its gives a chance to see the bare structure of the garden – what can be let go, what needs replaced.
A large bonfire rids us of all the collected debris – a welcome winter blaze.
The temperatures rise again and snowmelt and flood water rushes off the hills through and over the garden – all the ponds inevitably over-brim and flood. Many of the grass paths already soaked to capacity for a time are just lying in surface water – but again this too quickly disperses and passes through. The ground remains very boggy and heavy in places – it will take a while to recover fully.
Intermittent bright days bring an ever changing light to the garden as the muted white silence of snow passes to clear bright blue and glowing sunsets.
As much as possible all of the pathways and grass areas are kept clear and leaf swept – especially where bulbs are coming through. The first snowdrops have now pushed into flower – a profusion of little white sparks on the dark ground.
Bark chips gathered from last months tree feelings have been gathered up and used as surface mulch around the juvenile trees by the entrance.
The track has suffered again from snowmelt and frosts breaking up the surface – and again from the passage of heavy farm traffic. The field entrance by the Battle Monument in particular has been churned up and left heavily rutted – a bit of a sorry sight for now but one that will have to wait until later on before any meaningful work can be done to help it recover.
Any full sign of spring is still a way off but plans go ahead for new growth and plantings – trees to be replaced, yew hedging to be completed. The cycle to begin again.