During January I take some holiday time skiing in the French Alps (Praz du Lys near Morzine) where I used to work as a Transfer Driver in between gardening. Things slow down a little in the gardens of Ruthin Castle so it’s an opportunity to catch up on some time in the snowy Alps. We’ve experienced quite a snowfall from a storm that swept across France in Mid January, the United Kingdom also experiencing a similar cold spell at the same time. The hills and pine forests get a thick covering of snow but there are still some wild animals and birds to be spotted (marmots and the rare Black Alpine Grouse). Also thicket branches protruding out of the snow blanket are covered in buds awaiting the spring not too far away.
Praz du Lys is quite a small ski resort at 1500 metres altitude and popular with French familys. It’s a good mixture of high mountain peaks for randonee skiing and sweeping forest runs interspersed between Alpine chalets. It also has stunning views of the Mont Blanc Massif and the Portes des Soliell ski area and peaks. The resort is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year.
Whilst skiing it gives me a chance to think of some of the gardening projects that lie ahead in the grounds of Ruthin Castle when I return.
Plans for the winter and spring months ahead.
When I get back I’ll be tending the bedding plants and cuttings from last season which we are keeping behind glass in the old forge. I try and keep most of the bedding from last year going to be planted for this spring and summer. Geraniums and gazaniums are particularly hardy and seem to last for years and also don’t mind the hot summers!
There are plans to lay new electrical cables to the Tavern kitchen for re-opening in the spring and also possibly some new up-lighting lamps for some of the Castle walls, so there will be plenty of digging trenches to look forward to on my return.
I’m sure the grounds will be showing some signs of spring when I get back, particularly the daffodil bulbs and primroses but we also have some areas of snowdrops which are the first bulbs to make an appearance in February.
There will be some maintenance to carry out on some of the machinery that lies dormant in the winter months which will probably be reluctant to start, some spreading of compost on the beds and there is always some log chopping for the Tavern open fires!