My Garden This Weekend – 13th April 2014

Maianthemum racemosum
Maianthemum racemosum

Anyone who follows me on twitter regularly will know I have been whining about being ill since Wednesday evening with a cold.  In fact we are pretty certain it was flu as I was completely knocked for six and hardly left my bed or the sofa until this morning.  It has left me feeling quite tired but the sunshine today was just what I needed to start recharging the batteries and get myself back to normal.  There is  nothing more restorative than a slow shuffle, that’s how bad I was, around the garden to see what is growing.  In fact I think I noticed far more than normal.  I  was thrilled to discover my trillium has returned this year with at least three flowers.  This is at least the third year it has flowered so I think I might invest in another one or two this year at Malvern Spring show.  There are so many flowers about to open that the changes seem to happening now on a daily basis.  I was particularly taken with the Maianthemum racemosum (above) which I have always preferred to Solomons Seal.  I thought I had removed all the Solomons Seal from the garden after the disgusting and extensive sawfly attack last year but I noticed today that the spikes of growth were reappearing.  I shall leave them to see how they do but the first sign of the sawfly and they are out.

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My son helped out and cut the front grass and finished off the new seating area.  I have the following week off work and I had planned to put the gravel down in this area but I suspect my energy won’t be enough.  However, I can now plant up the slope behind the seating area and my new planting area in front which will free up some space on the patio.  Whilst  he beavered away I plodded along weeding and tidying the Cottage Border, which runs along the top of the wall.

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I have been meaning to stake the Delphiniums here for a week or so and it was this task that got be out into the sunshine.  I have learnt from bitter experience that you really need to stake delphiniums early or you end up with a right mess.  I follow Christopher Lloyd’s advice and use bamboo canes.  For the smaller clumps I tie each steam to a cane but for the larger clumps I make a web of string running between the canes; it seems to work.  I grew all the Delphinium from seed and I think they are dwarf variety.  This is good as there can be a wind which whips across the garden despite the neighbours trees along the boundary and the shorter height stops them getting snapped off too much.  Many people tell me they can’t grow Delphinium as the slugs cause too much damage.  I get slugs in my garden generally not an excessive amount but enough.  My approach is to scatter some slug pellets around the plants just as the very first shoots break  the soil.  I believe this kills the slugs that leave in the soil and I think these cause more damage.  If the plant starts life strongly then it is more robust to deal with other attacks.  I also get little slug damage on hostas.

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The planting in the border is quite restricted to late spring/early summer but I want some colour later in the year so on a whim I have sown some hardy annuals straight into the soil.  I haven’t done this before.  Normally I sow in trays, prick  out, harden off etc but the plants are often scrawny as I never have enough time to do things in a timely manner so they get leggy.  I am hoping that by sowing straight into the soil the plants will be more compact and robust and will flower later in the season.  I also added some Cerinthe seedlings sown last Autumn which, yes your right, are getting leggy and need planting out.  We shall see how they do.

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I thought you might be amused by the state of my compost heaps which are growing an interesting selection of plants at the moment.  So far I have found healthy growing specimens of Sweet Cicely, Lily of the Valley, a Scabious (I think), Rhubarb, and a large Angelica.  I suppose it’s the mild winter we have had that has built  up the heap in the heap and promoted the growth but it is interesting as I don’t remember composting half of them and it shows just how rubbish I am at cutting up plants to go on the heap.  I am eyeing up the Angelica as I think I have a location for it.  To be honest I thought it was a biennial so I am surprised it has reappeared.

The idea of having the whole week  ahead and good weather forecast is amazing. I have no plans for the week apart from taking the car to the garage tomorrow so I am going to see how it pans out.  I might do a little  garden visiting, I might do a little planting, maybe some sowing, maybe some pricking  out – who knows I may even just sit in the sun and enjoy the view.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Judy Mooney says:

    I love your posts and photos. Living in SE USA I envy the plants that are growing and blooming in your area. You are a real gardener and live the life of one.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Judy
      Thanks that is very kind of you

  2. rusty duck says:

    The Angelica lives on!
    Have a great week Helen, you’ve picked a good one weather wise. Glad you’re feeling better.

  3. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Ain’t nature great – so much new growth from a practucally bare patch 3 months ago! Enjoy your new seat this week also!

  4. Anna says:

    I think that we are all entitled to the odd whine or two Helen. I was drawn to the scent of maianthemum racemosum at Hampton Court Gardens a few years ago now and just had to find one of the gardeners to establish its identity. I am most fond of ‘Solomon’s Seal’ too. Have just acquired a new to me variety from Crug Farm so fingers crossed that those sawflies stay well clear. Hope that you enjoy your days off and make a full recovery soon.

  5. Pauline says:

    I hope you are soon fighting fit once more, you will certainly be able to be in the garden this week as the forecast is so good. Your borders are looking very full of lovely spring flowers, everything seems to be coming at once doesn’t it, I wish it would slow down! Enjoy your week, whatever you end up doing!

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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