Season's greetings to all our readers and friends in gardening with thanks for keeping in touch with Cilgwyn Lodge Gardens

Friday, December 27, 2019

Brightening up the Lodge with our customary celebration of Christmas.




Like most other parts of the UK The weather here has been a real challenge which has defeated my best intentions to make a start with essential winter gardening chores. Recovery from my time in hospital during November has also slowed me down although I am beginining to feel fitter. Light chores like cutting back old hellebore leaves have been possible but with in excess of well over 300 hellebores in the garden it takes longer than I would  like!  In the New year however we have had several invaluable offers of help with the major jobs from gardening friends to help us get on top of things. This will be very timely as Moira will be out of action for some time when she is due to have another knee replacement operation in the New year



A really cold wintry start to the month was a welcome change from all the

  previous month's rain. There were 12 overnight temps below -3C.

First ice on the Paddock Pond and hoar frost on the lawns

P1070875 (2)


Max daytime temp of 10C on 7 days

Precipitation on 14 days,  total 14"


Heavy overnight rain early one morning


Dry days 7, 

P1070878 (2)



Changeable 5 days

3 storms with thunder lightning, and hail and sleet settling  like snow on occasions

 Our river now filling up but has  not yet overflowed its banks

 P1070935 (1)

 One particularly heavy downpour put the springs emitting from the hill behind us into overload


 The stream garden feeding the Paddock Pond

 P1070936 (1)


Garden Update

 Starting cutting back the hellebore foliage

P1070947 (1)

Care has to be taken when cutting back because hidden  under the leaves there are often emerging flowers which can easily be cut off. 

P1070948 (2)


The rain has taken its toll of many of the brassicas as was forecast by commrecial growers before Christmas.

 A good stand of Brusssels sprouts looks healthy enough but 


A close up however shows some very tatty looking sprouts!




There are still however, with careful picking some good sprouts for the table. Best varieties this year are "Maximus" and "Brilliant" with firm buttons on both



We are very fond of savoy cabbage and grow  a range of varieties which with their more tender leaves are very suspect to rotting off in the crowns. It is a shame to have to lose cabbages of this size which are beyond salvation


 The loss however is compensated  for by  a really reliable winter and weather hardy variety of cabbage, the old stalwart "January King" with  attractive red tinges to the leaves and  great flavour



An unusual continental variety of savoy with yellow leves is a form called "Bloemandaalse" Quite a delicate and soft leaf it survived the rain better than many others


 Always one of the hardiest  brassicas is kale in a range of varieties and colours. This one is the curly red form



 Some forms of cabbage will store over winter in frost free conditions like this one called "Mini Cole" a smaller solid white cabbage for cooking or coleslaw

In our stone shed it shares a place with stored onions



What is, was, looking good

After the gloom of the cabbage problems it is good to have something bright and cheerfull to show you.

This sensational  bouquet was put together for my birthday on 28 November from plants growing in the garden of our friends LIz and Paul from Llwyngarreg garden that I have written about many times before.

P1070867 (1)

 What an exotice looking range of plants. Try guessing the identities of some of them 


Back to the gardens at Cilgwyn it is more common plants that are putting on a show like these long established  heathers



Miscanthus seed heads make a good contribution over a long period of time, one of the benefits of not cutting back all the old foliage.


 Early scented flowers on Mahonia "Charity" as late as December are always a cheerful sight even though when all the prickly leaves start to fall in the underlying border I do curse them when weeding!



There is not much else to be found in the garden although some snowdrops are moving  on and the sarcococca is starting to flower with that overpowering exotic perfume that pervades the garden  

The poly tunnels are the only place where colour can be found in quantity. none finer than long established Schlumbergera, the so called Christmas cactus. They are long lived plants and easy from cuttings placed 3 or so to a 3 inch pot in gritty compost. they make ideal gifts  the following Christmas

P1070896 (2)


A new plant flowering for me for the first time this year is fascicularia pitcairniifolia  a really choice form of bromeliad. A  gift  2 years ago from gardening friends Tim and Matt. Some of the best plants we have often come to us that way don't they?!



Wildlife and Countryside

 Blackbirds are back now feasting on the windfall apples that I generously make accessible to them as I usually do by mounting them on the hedge opposite the Lodge. This apple was bigger than the bird!

P1070898 (2)

Prompted by the arrival of the winter solstice on Christmas Eve I paid a visit to our friends and neighbours the Price family who farm at Goleucoed on the hill opposite the Lodge. They raise Dorset sheep wich are usually  the first around here to lamb and sure enough perhaps, thanks to the lighter conditions following the Solstice there were a few lambs in evidence. Tiny little things but they lifted the spirits on a very dull wet day










In wishing you all the best of health for the New Year,we hope you have  a memorable gardening year throughout 2020. Where do those years go to? Enjoy them!!

Love Keith and Moira XX