My Garden This Weekend – 19th January 2014

2014_01190002 logoFinally, a good weekend for gardening albeit very soggy due to the endless rain we have had for weeks.  It has rained so  much that on Friday my journey to work was doubled in time due to flooded roads despite a fairly limited amount of rain overnight; it just shows how saturated the ground is.

The days are starting to get longer but not enough yet for me to be able to see much of the garden when I get home so I can wait to get outside on a Saturday morning to see what has been happening over the last week.  I was pleased to see all the hellebores with plump buds and I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t opening by this time next week.  However, what really thrilled me was discovering the very faint but definite sign of flowers opening on the witch hazel.  The the last couple of weeks on twitter there have been photos of witch hazel flowers and there is a magnificent specimen not far from me which is covered in amber flowers so I was getting a little worried but I needn’t have been.


But it wasn’t all peering and cheering.  On Saturday I managed to get some time outside and planted out two camellias in the old bog garden.  I don’t know what species they are as I have had them for several years.  One of them has been in a pot full of ericaceous compost for a couple of years having looked like it was about the give up the ghost; this treatment had certainly helped and the shrub is full of dark glossy leaves and flower buds.  The other plant was in the shadow of a fatsia and as the fatsia has got larger and larger the camellia has got more and more wane.  They are now both in the new border and the intention is to add candelabra primulas seedlings and also hopefully some meconopsis seedlings if they  reemerge this Spring.  Interestingly today although only one day later I am convinced that the paler shrub has greened up already, although I could be deluding myself.

2014_01190019Sunday was finally a bright and sunny day with a bright blue sky – something I don’t think we have seen for a while.

Due to a chilly start and impending visitors I contented myself first thing with pruning roses and tidying up along the top of the wall border.  I spent quite a bit of time thinning out hellebore seedlings.  I really should have done this more often over the last few years.  My neglect resulted in a tough job trying to extricate the seedlings from amongst the older plants.  I think I managed to reduce the seedlings down by about 80% and this means that the emerging flower buds can now be clearly seen.


There was one last job I really wanted to do this weekend.  For sometime the Spirea ‘Bridal Wreath’ planted at the far end of the top of the wall border in the woodland shady corner has been bothering me.  It is the view I have of the garden in the winter and I really need something green and interesting to look at not a mass of woody stems.  Also as with the hellebores I have neglected this shrub and I really should have pruned it back so the result is that it has become very tangled and also appears a little wind-swept.  I mentioned recently that I want to create a shrubby backdrop to the woodland border which will break up the fence line.  Having dithered for a while I decided to move the Spirea back into the border by 2-3ft.  Due to all the rain we have had the ground was fairly easy to dig despite the tree roots.  I also decided to prune the shrub drastically.  I know this will mean no flowers this spring but I decided that the plant would take better with less top growth and it would also means that I could shape the shrub better.


As you can see from this photo I have gained quite a bit of space and now my mind is busy contemplating potential new additions.  As I  said I want evergreen plants here and my list so far includes Euphorbia robbiae, evergreen ferns although I need to decide which ones. I did think about hellebores but the photo shows how close you can get to the border without actually walking on it so I don’t want anything with interesting flowers that you  will want to look at closely. So now hellebores, epimediums, primulas, snowdrops but maybe some rusty foxgloves would look good amongst the ferns and when they flower there is a black elder which  would provide a wonderful backdrop.

So more thinking and planning to do on top of the planning and thinking for the hardy exotic border.  I love this aspect of gardening.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. rusty duck says:

    Helen, you’ve done well to get so much planted this weekend. It’s been gloriously sunny here too, but my soil is still just a quagmire. The Spirea will look much better in its new position.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi RD
      My soil is a quagmire elsewhere in the garden, so I was forced to confront the spirea

  2. alison says:

    The blue skies and sunshine this weekend got me outside too, to do much needed clearing away of leaves amongst the shrubs etc, although the soil is saturated. Good to read about all the work you’ve achieved over the weekend and i will look forward to reading about all the changes and plans you have for the coming year.

  3. Helen, I also moved four spirea shrubs on Friday, it must be that time of year !. They were languishing with roses, a tree peony, and huge amounts of fennel in a customers garden. I think the move has done them all good. They are now sitting in a massive mixed herbaceous/shrub border and I think they will be much happier. I am a sucker for leaving hellebore seedlings, I must put it on my list of jobs to do/replant.

  4. Yvonne Ryan says:

    When I prune very hard i I call it ‘doing a Megan’ after my Ikebana teacher who really cut things back. They always looked good tho’ and ‘the butterflies’ could fly through the bush! Hope it warms up for you. We have had it very hot, very very windy, cool and today some rain. That’s weather for you!

  5. Anna says:

    Glad to read that the witch hazel survives 🙂 I wanted to venture out this weekend – it looked inviting especially yesterday but it was too cold for me, wimp that I am, to spend much time out. Hang on in there Helen – those lighter nights are edging ever nearer.

  6. Sometimes what a shrub needs is a big chop. You’ll end up with more flowers next year, too. I also love the planning aspect of gardening. It seems so full of possibility.

  7. jenhumm116 says:

    Hi Helen, I’ve only just discovered your lovely blog having it had it suggested by WordPress when I started mine. Thanks for sharing – and if you want to take a look at my effort, please do –

  8. Cathy says:

    Yes, about 7 minutes more daylight each week I heard someone say! So pleased you were able to have a productive weekend despite the quagmire, and hope you continue to enjoy planning this border. Look forward to seeing your witch hazel!

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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