Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Clock watching

Look to nature to mark the passage of time.

At the start of the New Year gardeners and greenhouse owners keep a close eye on nature’s clock. As the sun rises and sets to create a few extra minutes of daylight each and every day, so the sun returns to our gardens and gradually warms the soil. Every extra moment of daylight is a chance to be out in the garden if only to observe it waking slowly from its winter slumber.

Time travel

As the clock strikes midnight, marking the moment between the two years, past and present, our thoughts are of memories of the year just passed and hopes for the year ahead.

Already the seed catalogues are dropping through the letterbox, packed full of tempting flowers, fruits and vegetables to grow over the next gardening season. But still we watch the clock, wishing away the cold winter hours until the start of spring. Hoarding our precious packets of seeds ready to sow when the calendar tells us the turn of the year, the phase of the moon and that the soil is ready to grow.

Moment by moment

The tick tock of time knows no boundaries, it keeps moving forward no matter what is happening in the world. Take heed of every moment that you can snatch back from the time machine and make it yours. Linger in the garden in the cold crisp winter light and pay attention to the flowers that dare to blossom. Watch as the bulbs start to rise above the soil level. First the perky snowdrops, fat with flowers shielded between the leaves.  Savour each moment, every minute in their presence and watch for the insects that sup nectar from their nodding flowers, these are the winter stalwarts that will sustain early pollinators looking for food. Watch out for the daffodils and crocus shoots that will burst forth from the soil and flower when the weather starts to warm. As the snowdrops start to fade they will be replaced by these bright cheery spring flowering bulbs. Each one part of the flower clock that provides food and sustenance to the pollinators throughout the year.

Rhythms of time

Emerging snowdrops – the first signs of spring.

The winter clock is slow and steady but as the temperature rises along with the sap, so the clock ticks faster and the flowers start to blossom in greater numbers.

Keep apace with the winter stalwarts and learn their rhythm and place in the garden. Boost their numbers by digging and dividing. The snowdrops quickly become over crowded and will flower better next year when lifted and given more space to grow. Share your bounty with other nature loving souls. Plant single bulbs on banks to bulk up in years to come and create drifts of these white and green beauties that signal the end of winter.

Marking time

Listen to the birdsong that fills the air each morning and still further into the day, each of these little creatures is facing the toughest challenge of the year, survival through the darkest time when the weather is cold and food is in shortage.

Boost your mood and feed the birds, their frolicking antics will lift your spirits and momentarily you are transported from your day-to-day concerns. These little creatures are depending more and more on human support to supplement their diet. Make your garden attractive for them to nest and raise their brood and you will benefit from their bug busting activities and share in their greatest achievements. Mark the time from winter to nest building as they build a place to lay their precious eggs in spring. Fatten them up with nutrient rich bird food to give them the best possible start as the clock ticks forward to spring.