End of Month View – March 2013


No real change in the last month in the front garden.  You can see there is still a little snow on the lawn.  The snow fell last weekend but the low temperatures meant that it has just sat there particularly in the shade.  Saying that the general consensus today at the garden club was that where the ground is covered in snow it is doing better than soil exposed to the low temperatures and this is true as when the snow has melted new shoots are appearing quickly.

Anyway, as I said nothing much has happened in the front garden.  I have planted a group of Phlomis russeliana in front of the Birch.  My thinking is that the foliage will be good all year round and the grey green leaves compliment the birch particularly when they are frosted.  The grass has also had a cut so it doesn’t look as shaggy as last month.


I have spent quite a bit of time pouring over gardening books and in particular an A-Z of shrubs trying to find something for the right hand side at the front; the other side of the Grevillea to the Birch.  I really struggle with this corner.  There is a drain in this area and also water pipes with a meter so I have to leave some access for the poor water man plus I worry about roots wrecking the pipes and me receiving a large bill.  I really wanted to plant a bamboo there but haven’t due to the root systems.  Instead I planted some Miscanthus but they really aren’t doing much and my enthusiasm for grasses is waning a tad.  I need something evergreen, with reasonable size leaves to contrast to the Grevillea.  I had been seriously considering a Viburnum and had found a lovely one with red stems which would pick up on the colour of the Grevillea flowers but it was tricky to source.  Anyway, earlier this week in need of some horticultural retail therapy I visited my local nursery.  They had some nice big Viburnum tinus with good glossy leaves but they were pricey and I wasn’t convinced about the flowers.  Then hidden away in a corner I stumbled upon some interesting evergreen variegated shrubs.  They werent labelled so I had to ask the nursery woman who was incredibly helpful – the benefit of going to a small independent nursery and it turned out they were Prunus lusitanica ‘Variegata’, variegated Portuguese Laurel.  I did flinch at the idea of Portuguese Laurel as people can be rather sniffy about it but we agreed it was the ideal plant.  The red stems will pick up on the Grevillea flowers and the white in the leaves will link to the Birch and it was half the price of the Viburnum.


Elsewhere in the front garden the tulips are coming up along the drive border.  They are Tulip Ballerina and I am hoping they will establish and come up year after year.  I have also added a number of alliums along this edge.  Luckily the tulip crazed badger hasn’t discovered how to access the front garden yet.  I am trying to use strong planting to define the shape of the lawn and then to have more informal planting behind and for the flowers to be strong colours.  That is the idea in my head anyway.

Hopefully I might get to do some more work in the front garden before the end of next month and there might even be some colour.  I have a Cistus to move there which again will pick up on the colours of the Birch and Grevillea and some plants to remove elsewhere.  Aside from the weather I am also being distracted from working in the front garden because of increasingly growing projects in the back garden.  The steps I have been waiting to go in for about 3 years have been started but I will save that for a belated weekend update in the next post.


25 Comments Add yours

  1. Lea says:

    Thanks for hosting End of the Month View.
    Here is mine:
    Happy Easter!
    Lea’s Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

  2. Yvonne Ryan says:

    looking good for very spring after all that snow. Every little flower that pops up will be a joy! Some light steady rain for a couple of hours so plants look fresher!

  3. Pauline says:

    It’s a problem to know what to do in the garden right now, I think your garden club colleagues are right, where the soil hasn’t been covered by snow, it is completely frozen. No gardening can be done until the weather warms up and that doesn’t seem to be in the near future down here. Is your variegated laurel green/ white, I have one and am so pleased with it, because of the lack of chlorophyll it doesn’t grow too fast. Happy Easter to you and your family.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      Yes my variegated laurel is white/green and I am quite pleased with it. Hopefully I will be able to plant it out tomorrow as we have had some warmer temperatures today

  4. Holleygarden says:

    How wonderful to find the perfect plant – at half the price! Spring is coming, your snow is melting, and your tulips will soon be blooming! I’m also joining in EOMV:

  5. Congrats on finding the perfect evergreen for your spot! Personally I’ve never really been in love with evergreens, and I think I need to do something to change that as our hedgerow towards the road desperately needs something with a bit of bulk during the winter months…

    But at least the snow is melting. *fingers crossed* And soon my not-so-ever green plants will shoot leaves and new growth and block the view of me sitting in a bathrobe in front of the large windows while I drink my morning coffee and pretend not to notice the dog-walkers passing by with a full view of my un-combed self. (This house really is turned completely the wrong way on the plot, both in terms of sunlight and privacy!)

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi FG – I’m not a real fan of everygreens but I have finally come to realise that I need them to, as you sayl, add bulk for the winter and to help cloth fences and boundaries and provide some privacy

  6. Alison says:

    Hi I like the look of the Portuguese Laurel, I’ve not seen that one before. I admit I usually flinch at the thought of laurels I am not generally in favour, but that looks a really good one. I’ll be interested to see how it develops,

    My EoMR is here: http://www.blackberrygarden.co.uk/2013/03/end-of-month-review-march-2013.html


  7. Rob says:

    A thoroughly grim month with very little change. I thought spring might of sprung yesterday, but apparently that was just a scheduling mistake. Snow is back today.

    Here’s my end of month http://wannabeplantsman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/garden-log-march-2013.html

    Thanks for hosting!

  8. Interesting. I’d have been thinking Hebe or a variegated daphne for that corner.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Helen
      Maybe but I want something larger with more height

  9. Cathy says:

    I am glad you have managed to get out and get some jobs done both front and back – often the planning and thinking takes much longer than the doing. Thanks for hosting – and hopefully we will all have more colour to show off at the end of April! http://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/easter-uprising-end-of-month-view-march/

  10. Lea says:

    Hi Helen,
    To answer your question about planting Spring veggies all together.
    I have grown them this way before. I think there are several reasons this works for me.
    I plant them in a container, so I don’t have the grass invasion I have to cope with in my regular garden.
    I use a potting mix that has time-release fertilizer already in it. More nutrients than there are in my garden dirt.
    The radishes will mature quickly. As I pull them out, there is more room for the other veggies.
    The carrots are ‘Little Fingers’ baby carrots. They don’t need as much space as regular sized carrots.
    If the lettuce is too thick (which it usually is), I pull some of the entire plants out as soon as the leaves are big enough to eat, leaving more room for the other lettuces to grow.
    You can try it in just one small space in your garden to see how it does for you. It is really pretty to see the delicate frilly carrot leaves growing amid the other veggie leaves.
    I enjoy visiting the other End of Month Views. Thanks for hosting a great gathering of gardeners.
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  11. I will join in tomorrow…I researched snow for a recent post as we get so much and snow is great for plants as it insulates them and provides large quantities of nitrogen to feed the plants…my garden had over 19 feet of snow and it is growing like a weed.

  12. It has been a difficult spring this year requiring a little more skill and thought from our gardening community. I do appreciate that spring has come to parts of the country and it is slowly spreading. Keep the faith.

  13. Well, this year is one of patience. The snow is still predicted hear and trees are barely in bud, but when it comes, it will come with a bang. I prefer Viburnum, laurels here are iffy.

  14. I often cater to the water man, too. It is a spot that can be hard to reach. We are having a very slow emergence of spring and only a few things are blooming. It is nice to see your tulips breaking the surface of the soil. I thought the voles had gotten mine again this year, but they are coming up. Thank you for hosting.

  15. The red stems on the Prunus lusitanica are fantastic, and such an attractive contrast with the variegated leaves. Congrats to you on a lovely find, and phooey on those who are, as you say, sniffy about it. I will look forward to seeing how this works out in your design.

  16. easygardener says:

    It is always satisfying to come across an unexpected find in a garden centre! Glad you found the perfect solution for your empty spot.
    My post is here http://greenforks.com/2013/04/end-of-the-month-view-march-2013/

  17. Helen although you/we can’t do much in our gardens just now you seem to have made headway with your planning and chosing plants, that red stem looks nice it sounds like it will be a beautiful shrub, I do love your birch with the evergreen background how nice that your neighbour across has an evergreen hedge 😉

    my post is a bit late but posted now, thanks for hosting, Frances

  18. Hi Helen – your front garden is definately going to be a work to be proud of. So frustrating that nothing seems to have moved on from the last few months. We have some sunshine now but roll on the warmth! This is my EOMV http://hurtledto60.com/2013/03/29/end-of-month-view-march-2013/

  19. Lyn says:

    The Portugese Laurel looks really nice. Does it keep those red stems? I think it will look great with the birch – just that elegant fine white line of variegation. It’s exciting to visit a nursery and find something just right that you hadn’t thought of. The Phlomis should make a nice picture too.

  20. That Prunus lusitanica looks like a real find, it should work beautifully, and personally I have no patience with plant snobbery. I may hate spotted laurels but that is personal preference, and e.g. love cotoneaster horizontalis for all that it is over used in car parks. Sorry I didn’t join in this year, I had visitors and didn’t feel there was anything to blog about. I was wrong about the latter, as it happens, but I was clearly overly jaded by the long flirtation with the cold east wind, without any insulating layer of snow!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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