The garden usually looks great in winter. It’s the hedges and topiary that do it. Usually.

This year we’ve been sadly short of garden help and if anything we needed extra help, what with the usual jobs, and then dealing with snow damage

and totally destroying and remaking one garden. (more of that another time) So we haven’t had the perennials in various parts of the garden strimmed down in November as we usually would.

Today I had had enough of looking at the miserable half squashed, half dead,  damp and dank Front Garden. Ever imagined having one of those wonderful frosty gardens which stand all winter for the birds to peck at ? Dream on. Not in the UK.

This looks prettier than it was, really.

I do know that as the foliage of perennials dries out, which it does even in a wet winter, it becomes possible to squash it down by tramping on it, and I may do that in the spring in less conspicuous parts of the garden. I have done that in the past – and should you try it you’ll find it’s quite fun, rather in the spirit of jumping on crisp autumn leaves. But beware of doing it with grass stems on slopes – they turn into ski slopes, being very smooth.

Anyway, at this time of year and after snow they were not yet really dried out, so here’s the trick – I went out with my chopper.

This is a very useful tool – and not called a chopper. It’s a zappa.

Useful for breaking up those clods of earth that don’t break down in the frost as promised by lying garden writers. Or bashing the soil off the rootball of something you’ve dug up and want to dispose of. That sort of thing. And for chopping down half deaf foliage. Recommended. (O – whoops! Should I say – neither I nor the relevant company had any commercial interest in this!! Looks like advertising maybe, but it’s not).

So I went out and started chopping.

And I’m pleased and amazed to say that I had not been at it for very long when a wonderful helper appeared, suggested a strimmer might be better and — took over!

Honestly, I was not being manipulative, going out with my chopper. But – hey – miracle tool, that Zappa???

Charles, strimming at Veddw, copyright Anne Wareham

He’s not a fire breathing dragon. It was just very cold…

So the job is done and the beds all mulched for the spring. I can look at it all with pleasure now.

Thanks, Charles.

Though not all perennials need this. This is the alchemilla and geranium bed right now. Unchopped border behind though…

Alchemilla and geraniums in winter at Veddw, copyright Anne Wareham

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