IT is sometimes hard to believe these two scenes are separated by little more than a matter of months.
However, every year – as if by magic – our gardens burst back into life after a winter slumber that can start to drag at this time of the year.
Be thankful, though, that the days are staying lighter longer and it won’t be long until your borders produce their colour.
It wouldn’t be right to say it happens like clockwork, especially after this strangely mild but incredibly damp winter.
We’ve seen a Christmas Cheer rhododendron flower that normally has to be ‘forced’ to flower at this time of year, a Clianthus Puniceus and abutilon also appeared out of season.
No doubt you will have seen some strange sights in your gardens just as we have here at Arley.
Hopefully when we reopen to the public on March 1 some semblance of order will have been achieved and the gardens will be looking as good as they always do.
Right now they are soggy and we have been hampered by the downpours that have caused so many problems for so many people across the country.
If your patch is waterlogged then don’t panic. Here are a few things to do now the rain has eased a little.
1. Get the last of the leaves cleared up. No doubt, if you are anything like me, there will still be some on your lawns.
2. Give your lawns a high cut. If the temperature is 5 degrees or above it keeps on growing and it has rarely been below that over winter.
3. Tidy up your borders as best you can in time for the composting.
Around this time of year one of the gardeners’ main jobs is pruning.
Many people will have wisteria like the one in our Flag Garden and it is always first for the chop because it is tough as old boots.
You can prune it now without any subsequent risk because it won’t be affected by frosts.
For those of you with roses things are a little more complicated. Our roses are starting to bud now, which could be the signal to start pruning.
However, the growth spurt this will encourage could be halted by a frosty spell so beware and don’t fall into the trap of pruning the roses too early.
Many people are afraid of pruning, but my top tip is to simply be consistent. If you are a heavy pruner stick with that and if you prune lightly then that is ok too.
The most important thing is consistency because it allows the plants to get used to an annual routine. It might be cold out there, but don’t use that as an excuse to put off the pruning until it is too late.