Any time in the garden is precious at this time of year and if the sun shines albeit weakly it is even more special. Yesterday afternoon was such a time with a low sun appearing fleetingly behind the scudding clouds. Today, by contrast, was a day to watch and look as the rain lashed against the windows and the few remaining dead leaves galloped across the patio.
It is also a time of year that rewards you for looking. If you take time and look carefully you can see buds forming on the branches and the elegant detail of the bulb flowers such as the veining on these unknown crocus flowers.
But I have to be honest to say that whilst I do take time looking I am so pleased to be able to spend some time outside that I tend to have my head down working hard. I have spent the week hoping for gardening time, devising a list of things I would like to achieve, pondering planting ideas and generally dreaming of getting my hands into the soil which makes me feel grounded (no pun intended) and rooted in my space.
The objective this weekend was to plant out the remaining two peonies which had been potted up temporarily since their arrival and also to plant out the new hellebores instead of them languishing on the patio with the risk of being frozen in their pots. The focus of my attention was the corner of the former Bog Garden nearest the workshop – which I have decided to remain the Rowan Border because there is a Rowan (Sorbus vilmorinii) in it! I have struggled with a focus for this area ever since it was created. The Rowan tree has almost been an obstacle ever since I planted it or no obvious reason at all. But having read in several places recently about lifting the canopy of shrubs and trees to provide planting spaces under I realised that I was letting the tree canopy block my ideas. Strange I know and I wonder if it has something to do with the garden sloping upwards as I often seem to be looking at the bottom or top of plants rather than the view you would have in a flat garden. The Peony ‘Bowls of Beauty’ is to be a key plant in the border although I appreciate it might not flower this year and has been planted so it will eventually hide the base of the tree. The colours of the flowers should reflect and continue the blossom of the Prunus kojo-no-mai. I am trying to build up layers of planting using the idea of creating triangles with the Sorbus and Prunus as two of the high points of triangles – we will see if it works.
I haven’t thought of planting borders with a particular colour palette before, focussing more on a season or a style so this is a new approach for me and hopefully will make more sense. I don’t want a restricted plant palette as I am far too eclectic in my taste nor, as I have discovered, will a particular style i.e. exotic, work for me. So the peony and prunus are being supplemented with hellebores, acquilegia, primroses and violas all in soft pastel colours but hopefully with some stronger highlights. The trouble is I can’t remember what colour the acquilegia flowers are so I will have to do some editing as they appear. I also know there is an orange Lathyrus and a yellow day lily in the border some where and I suspect these will have to be relocated. If so they will go to the Big Border which has citrus colours in it as well as purples and blues. I have also tried to think about textures and foliage as these will be there for longer than the flowers. It’s a start and will be added to as the plants develop and it becomes obvious what needs to be done. All has been top-dressed with some green waste from the council and although it looks a bit bare above, from the bench you get the first view which is really enjoyable on an early Spring day as you hug a cup of tea.
Whilst I was pleased with the planting I managed yesterday I was also really chuffed with the purchase of the Primula above. It cost me £4 for a 1 litre pot from Waitrose but I knew from looking at the shades of the flowers that there was more than one plant in the pot and yes when I turned it out there were 3 good size plants. These have been planted in the border I was working on last week so they can be enjoyed from the gravel steps. The plan is to really plant up along the steps, something I have neglected to do until now. I want to create a really flowery effect so will be adding some of the more robust alpines I have languishing in pots and hope they seize the challenge and start to soften the hard landscaping.
Having done so well yesterday it would have been greedy to expect a second gardening day and Mother Nature has certainly shown who is in charge today. I did manage to sow a couple of packets of annuals though which are now sitting on a windowsill with the hope of getting some good strong plants for the summer.
Next weekend I have my local HPS meeting and a birthday nursery visit but until then I will content myself with revisiting my all time favourite gardening book – The Layered Garden and pondering.