Happy New Year. And what a chilly start.
When the garden is covered with snow it looks entirely different. And it’s a great opportunity to spot the non-human visitors and residents here by their tracks.
A cool, white background also highlights those plants that are in bloom now. Of these, the witch hazels (Hamamelis) are among the best. Their spidery, ribbon-like petals are thin and can’t hold any weight of snow, so with the slight snow fall we’ve encountered they really stand out.
Meanwhile, in the warmth of the Glasshouse there is, as always, an amazing array of spectacular plants to see. To the left of the main entrance you can sniff out a small member of the Magnolia family, Michelia doltsopa ‘Silver Cloud’. Also in the Temperate Zone a red banana, near the Waterfall and entrance to the RootZone, is producing little bananas for the first time.
According to our entomologist Andrew Halstead, the current spell of cold weather will have some effect on garden pests but probably not in the way most people think. There is a common perception that a cold winter will kill off pests. The reality is that most of our garden pests and beneficial insects are native to Britain and are adapted to survive cold winters. The pests that might be checked are the more recent arrivals, particularly European species that have spread across northern Europe in recent years and have now colonized Britain. These include rosemary beetle, berberis sawfly, oak processionary moth, southern green shield bug and Sempervivum leaf miner. Other recent arrivals, such as horse chestnut leaf-mining moth and allium leaf miner are known to be present in parts of Europe that are colder than Britain, so won’t be affected. The other pests that could be knocked back are those normally found in heated greenhouses but which have been establishing themselves out of doors in gardens in central London and other sheltered places. These include glasshouse thrips and fluted scale.