Cordyline Carnage

Spring has finally arrived, although there can still be four seasons in one day. Today is warm, windy and wet. Tomorrow might be frosty, calm and dry. Who knows? But what I do know is that the weather has caused a lot of damage to many plants at the hospice this winter. Most of the damage was done in the two week cold snap just before Christmas. All our cordylines have died.

After this photo was taken there was another cold snap, killing off the other cordyline. The frost makes the stem go soft, causing all the leaves to die back. I have cut back the stems, and am waiting a little longer to see if they re-sprout. My fingers are crossed, but I’m not that hopeful. Other plants have been affected too.

This bottlebrush plant was kindly donated to us after it had outgrown the person’s garden. Although a bit leggy, it was doing well in its new home. That was until the frost got to it, causing its bark to split.

Again, I have cut it back to see if it might regrow as the weather warms up. A similar fate occurred with our large hebe hedge. I fear I am going to have to dig it all up. The frosts were so severe it even caused damage to a large area of bamboo. Nearly all the leaves turned brown and dropped off, making it look very unsightly.

With it being bamboo, it will come back, probably with a vengence! I have cut much of it back, but left an area where a group of long tailed tits were hanging out. I love long tailed tits, they are so pretty.

Enough of the destruction that has occurred. Let’s focus a bit more on the positive. I know that I have posted a lot of photos of the Rainbow Bridge, but here’s another, during one of those frosty periods.

It always makes me smile and reminds me that there is always hope. Last week when we were having lots of showers, I saw a real rainbow. I become a kid again when I see a rainbow, getting all giddy!

Whilst weeding and tidying up a flower bed, I looked down into my trug and saw this toad looking up…

The frog and toad spawn has has been laid again in our ponds, although a couple of weeks later than last year. We’ve had some other visitors recently. The local roe deer have been getting in on a regular basis. They seem to be able to jump over our 6ft fence to get in, but are then unable to jump back out again for some reason. One day there were four in. They’re beautiful to watch, but a bit scary when running past you at high speed.

Whilst weeding earlier this week, one of the volunteers found this insect…

None of us were too sure what it was. One of the volunteers was trying to indentify it with an app on their phone, but were unable to get close enough. So I let it climb onto my hand so that she could get a little bit closer. That was a mistake! It turns out that it is an Ophion wasp (or maybe a Netelia wasp – they seem quite hard to tell apart) and it had stung me. Thankfully it didn’t hurt much. They are largely nocturnal, so I suspect we had disturbed it from it’s sleep. They are parasitic wasps in the grizzly business of laying their eggs on, or inside, caterpillars. In the latter case, when the eggs hatch the unfortunate caterpillar, often still alive, is eaten from the inside out. I just hope it didn’t have time to lay it’s eggs in me!

There are many flowers now out around the gardens. There are lots of beautiful daffodils in bloom, but my favourite flower of the moment are the hellebores. We have several varieties growing, showing off their good looks in winter and early spring.

There are also a couple of daphne shrubs which are in bloom. As well as their pretty flowers, they also smell amazing.

I’ve been working throughout the winter at the hospice, and am enjoying the days getting a bit longer. My private gardening jobs are now getting busier as it warms up. So it is time to stop and put my feet up. I’m hoping that soon I can tell you some exciting news about the Tatton Flower Show!

Until then, happy gardening! X