Around My Edible Garden

December 2014

Snow for the festive season! A white Christmas is something that has rarely happened during the time we have lived in the UK. And, to be honest, this dusting of snow arrived late on Boxing Day (the 26th), so technically not a white Christmas. The Gulf Stream tends to keep the British Isles relatively warm in spite of its high northern latitude – or so I am told by the weather boffins. The flip side to this is the ability to garden almost year round – something the British take very seriously.


But earlier in the month, we had a hard frost. It glistened on the herbs, but I was still able to nip out and cut off a sprig or two of thyme, rosemary, and (if I am lucky) one or two of the less resilient perennial herbs like sage or oregano. Very much UNLIKE the hard frozen earth hidden under a blanket of ice and snow for months and months that we had when living in the US Upper Midwest. Back then, my precious rosemary – a small spindly specimen – had to be brought into the house to overwinter. Now, in my English herb garden, the rosemary thrives so much that it has to be clipped ruthlessly every year to keep it from overshadowing other plants. It is a thug in the herb garden!


One of the benefits of frost, I recently learned was its effect on kiwis. This revelation occurred after seeing a post from Old Lands (described on their Facebook page as an “Old estate in Monmouthshire learning how to go slow. We want to make it a place that nurtures the environment & its inhabitants.”) I suspect it isn’t far from the concept of a commune, an alternative and attractive lifestyle so popular in my youth. Picking kiwis after the frost apparently softens the fruit. I still had a few hanging on the denuded branches. And, yes, they were, indeed, softened and ripe, just at the point that they could be eaten. I will need to keep this in mind in future and not simply let the kiwis rot.


And don’t the bare kiwi branches look good against the (rare) blue winter sky? Not so triffid-like at the moment, but biding their time in hibernation!


Meanwhile, we’re enjoying the recent snow. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!


Tasks to be done:

  1. Shake the heavy snow from the shrubby herbs (like the rosemary) so the branches do not bend or break.
  2. Continue to water and care for the pots of tender herbs brought inside before the frost/snow.
Around My Edible Garden is my monthly diary entry detailing what is happening in my garden this past month, part of the Garden Share Collective (GSC), maintained by Lizzie@strayedtable (click on the “links in collection” icon below to view all participants). A chronological listing of my garden blog posts is listed Diaries in the Menu bar.


    • I would never have expected those kiwis to ripen! The vine was put in by the pervious house owner as a screen and not as a fruit bearing plant. A while ago, it was also trendy to plant kiwi, so a lot of gardens round about have them. However, I’m not sure people realised just how much the s**kers grow. On the snow front – it is still here, so we’re enjoying looking at it. We even hauled out those winter boots and had a tramp around the neighbourhood – eerily silent (no cars daft enough to risk the ice on the roads) and not a single soul out. Those Wisconsin winters have us inured!


  1. We saw footage of the snow in Europe on the news last night! Not too hot here yet thankfully, but hot enough to have to water the pot of basil twice a day. Having never lived in a snowy climate I can’t begin to imagine the inconvenience it must cause, good excuse to stay put and read a good book! I love the look of a bare winter northern hemisphere garden……


    • With all that’s been going on during the holidays, I’m ashamed to say that I let replying to posts lapse a bit. By now the snow is long gone. It never stays for long, but somehow seems to paralyse everyone. Having seen the winters in the US – in the northern midwest – snow and ice never stops anyone! True, many actually take to their cross-country skis to get to work, even in urban environments, and the municipal roadway departments are geared up to gritting and ploughing. My garden is still there and the rosemary only lost one tiny branch to the heavy snow.

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  2. I’ve never heard that frost ripens kiwis before. I keep thinking that I need to plant kiwi berries here. Kiwis themselves aren’t really hardy here, but their smaller siblings are.


  3. I always love hearing about white Christmases – your garden sculpture with snow is great! I’m about to make mango ice cream with the rest of my box of mangoes as we face a week of mid thirties (C) temperatures!
    Yes the other side of the world is very different 🙂


    • Well, the snow is long gone by now, but it was pretty while it lasted. The garden sculpture is actually a “Green Man” made of cement from an old mould. I really like it and it seems to have weathered well hanging on the stone wall of our house. I picked up mangos in the supermarket – cheap at this time of year – but for chutney making rather than ice cream (though the latter sounds pretty good!).

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  4. That is very interesting about Kiwi fruit. I can’t seem to grow them here. When I see them in New Zealand, they are grown on huge vertical trelisses and all the orchards are surrounded by windbreaks. I never imagined they could grow in Britain.
    I love the concept of garden’thugs’. Some herbs do that for sure. Still, a sprig of rosemary makes such a differenc to so many dishes.
    Lovely to see shots of your ice and snow, as we enter our heat stressed phase. Happy hibernating.


  5. How cool is that about kiwi’s. You are sharing your knowledge around. I thought about planting some myself however we don’t get frosts at all let alone snow. Enjoy the snow and Happy new Year.


    • I was amazed as well about those kiwis. If you plant them, make sure you invest in very sturdy growing trellises/frames for them. They are monsters! The snow was short lived, but the garden continues is in its dormant phase – so unlike the hectic activity on the other side of the world. Happy New Year!


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