Saturday 30 January 2021


As I write this latest blog the sleet is sheeting down, although 'down' is hardly the direction - it seems to be flying past the window horizontally. Not a day to be out in the garden. But we have had some of those crisp and sunny days, too - hence the showing of a winter flowering clematis (photo left), set against a blue sky earlier in the week

Indeed, despite the encouragement of the gardening magazines, I find that such garden activity as is possible is determined by the weather. Cold and dry is fine but cold and wet is another story. However, old Codger has got out as often as both weather and time has allowed, particularly as we have sought to abide by the 'stay at home' lockdown message


Years ago I established a raised small bed of hellebores to give winter flower. They flower regularly every January - I can recommend them for their reliability. The downside is that they look down and need a bit of height to look good. If you have a sloping garden (I don't), Place them in a position where you can look into them. Modern varieties, such as those developed by local expert John Massey at Ashwood's Nursery, have been bred to perk up so the flower is seen to better advantage from above

These cultivars are very good but rather expensive. I have also found that hellebore varieties interbreed quite quickly often end up a rather monotonous purple colour. But I don't wish to discourage anyone from broadening their colour range. Strangely, as I type this an email has come in from Hayloft advertising their colourful range

Incidentally, Codger Nurseries has a few plants potted potted up a ready to go. (A reminder that I need to update Plants for You - click top right)


Our other source of colour has been cyclamen. I am gradually learning more about the different types of cyclamen and how to display them to the best advantage. The one shown here (on the right, photographed in early December) has flowered continuously in our kitchen window for over two months now. Sadly, now on its last five blooms

But take a look at this picture (left): it shows the planter in our porch. This location gets no sun whatsoever in the winter and seems to be the ideal spot for the cyclamen type that I have tried there - cyclamen coum. These were a rescue from our local B&Q before Christmas. As you can see, there are still doing well. So, winter colour is possible - but you need to think ahead (although, the last time I looked, B&Q still have some cyclamen coum - at £3 each, if I remember correctly). Once Codger Nurseries reopen after Lockdown 3:0, we shall have some cyclamen available. Please keep your eye on the  Plants for You page

Planning ahead

Seed sowing starts soon - in a selective sort of way. Even with a greenhouse Codger has found that beginning too early can be counterproductive. The first move will be some seed potatoes in a container (see the next post) but the main effort will be to get a selection of flower seeds underway. Last year I got through an enormous amount of compost and related materials. The cost can mount up

I shall be doing my own mix, hoping to reduce the cost. For example, one of my fine-day January jobs was digging out my old hotbed. This had not worked well other than to produce excellent some well-rotted material. It will need lightening to open it up. Vermiculite is ideal for this purpose but the price has shot up in the last twelve months so I've gone for perlite, instead - two-thirds of the price

Anything else?

Looking back over the month, I seem to have done more than I had thought. You know what it is like - you go out to do one job and end up doing another. In fact, the reason i dug out the hotbed was to make room to store compost from the heap. Having spotted a problem, I decided to check the base of my home-brew compost bin

Because I use a hot-composting method, I stand my heap off the ground. Cutting a long story short, a new base was needed and the final, somewhat over-engineered, result is shown here (see above left). It's made of a 2"x2" timber from covered with three layer of 13mm galvanised steel mesh, unwelcome visitors having gnawed through the previously fitted plastic mesh

Not a very delectable sight but the bin is now back in use. The polystyrene is used for insulation purposes and is badly in need of replacement

Compost last-minute update

I have just braved the icy blast to check the temperature of the compost - see hurried photo left. Bear in mind that the material was literally frozen when I rebuilt the heap two days ago. Now reading 18 degrees! That increase in temperature is due the microbial activity in the heap that breaks down the potato peelings etc in nutrients that will, in time, feed the soil and my plants - amazing! (The shredded paper adds needed carbon and helps insulates the heap - nothing goes to waste in Codger's garden)

From microbes to people!

Zooming out from a warm compost heap in a frozen corner to other cold realities, I would like to finish with a word of thanks to everyone who supported our pre-Christmas efforts to raise money for BCM Toylink initiative. Here is one letter of thanks from the BCM website:

Most of the families we support come to refuge with just the bare essentials and have to rebuild their lives and their possessions. With the financial pressure of having to replace basic items like clothing there isn’t much money left for Christmas presents

ToyLink helps make Christmas special for those living in our care and the children feel secure in having their own possessions again. It helps them forget about their current situation, even if just for a short while

This came from the Black Country Women's Aid. You can read more like it by clicking here. That's all for today, I hope to be back with you in just a couple of weeks time

... best wishes from the old Garden Codger

Just remembered ...

I took a few shots a couple of weeks ago when taking a a walk just along the canal, near where we live. My favourite photo is the final one ...

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