My Garden This Weekend – 8th March 2015



What a wonderful weekend it has been.  Saturday was bright and sunny and warm enough for gardening in a T-shirt and for sitting and contemplating with a cuppa.  Luckily I bothered to check the weather forecast for a change and focussed all my energies on outside gardening jobs leaving Sunday for seed sowing and potting up which can be done under cover.


I have dug out the cane domes and placed them over the new peonies that were planted over the last few weeks.  This will help me remember where they are until they put in an appearance and I also think the domes are rather charming.  I have added an Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ to the border, you can just see it in the top left corner.  I had been looking for one having seen it in ‘The Layered Garden’ but having secured one at the local HPS group I started to wonder why I had been attracted to the plant.  It is rather a strange combination with yellow streaks on the foliage and pinky new growth – it was christened the ‘ugly plant’.  However, when I planted it out I was won over again as it works very well with the pink hellebores so maybe my first instinct was right – I knew where I wanted to plant it before I bought it.


I am pleased with this bit of border now especially when the sun lights up the hellebores.  This border is ‘done’ for the time being while I wait to see how the plants fill out and then the plan is to try to add a little late summer colour.


I’m thrilled that the Hepatica noblis are flowering although I have to admit that they were only bought last month – the test will be to see if they reappearing next year.  I have bought a couple more and I am planting them over the other side of the garden so hopefully at least one group will establish.  However, I also have some hepatica seeds germinating in the cold frame which were sown as fresh seeds last April.

2015_03080015I got myself in a bit of a pickle the other week when I finally got round to doing a soil test and discovered my soil was alkaline, which wasn’t great given I had just bought two small rhododendrons.  I have been dithering around about them and decided to plant them up in pots and display them by the shed.  Once they have flowered and it gets warmer in this part of the garden I will move them into the shadier part of the garden and make sure they are watered well so they produce buds for next year.

I haven’t been very good at using pots in the garden for some years now.  I used to be really good at baskets and summer bedding in pots but I seem to have lost the knack and I do actually prefer the more mono planted pots but with several grouped together.  So the plan is to do more of this to create seasonal displays.

Finally I found enough energy to remove an unnamed and unloved shrub growing near the compost bins which has never really done much and had got battered when the tree surgeons were throwing the large willow logs around.  It came out fairly easily which was perhaps part of its problem.

I had come up with a scheme for this small area the other week when I was having a tea break – its to the right of the bench.  After adding lots of green waste compost I planted white Digitalis, Epimedium perralchicum ‘Wisley’, some lily of the valley, and a Polypodium cambricum ‘Oakleyae’.  I also replanted some self-sown Pulmonaria.  There is a gap left in the middle of the planting for a Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ which is growing elsewhere but has needed a new home; I just need to wait for it to put in an appearance so I know where it is.



It’s only a small area but it is a start to the style of planting I am trying to adopt with lots of texture and contrast and hopefully not much soil showing once the plants get going.  I plan to add some white honesty next year so I will need to remember to show honesty and white digitalis on an annual basis although I may get lucky and they might start to self sow.


Sunday was grey and damp so I used the time to sort out the greenhouse.  The pots of bulbs which have finished flowering were moved out to the cold frames – I am regretting, a little, getting the plunge staging (not in the photo) as I haven’t enjoyed the pots of bulbs this winter and I want to plant them out in the garden.  I am toying with getting some sort of warming cable system for them to create a propagation unit but I am waiting to see how I get on this season before I invest more funds in something I might change my mind about.  There is a sorry tale associated with the empty space but I will share that later in the week when I join in the monthly greenhouse meme.

However, I am happy to say that my seed sowing mojo has returned with gusto and I have sowed quite a few packets today.  I found myself really enjoying the process.  I had forgotten how much I love that sense of anticipation. I also potted up a dozen aquilegia and dianthus and 3 primrose digitalis; some of them might even be good enough in a few weeks to sell at the local HPS group – wouldn’t that be good.




Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

19 thoughts on “My Garden This Weekend – 8th March 2015”

  1. The cane domes are lovely Helen. What are they made from? Also – why are you disappointed with the plunge bench? Perhaps it’s better for bulbs that you can’t plant in the garden, given rainfall? Sounds like a lovely luxury to me. Think twice perhaps?

    1. Hi Cathy
      I think the domes are split bamboo

      I regret the plunge in the sense that I bought it for a specific purpose thinking I would enjoy growing alpines/bulbs etc but I don’t really. I want to find a good use for it other than using as staging but I am wary at the moment of rushing out to buy stuff to make it a propagation unit as I don’t trust my judgement at the moment. Saying that the slatted staging I had before was a pain as the water would drip through to the seedlings below which is never good.

  2. The garden is looking wonderful with the sun on it, glad you were able to spend some time in it. I pruned the roses and tidied the terraces, a very easy job now after all the progress last year thanks to EOMV! I love hepaticas, I really must try some from seed.

    1. hi Jessica

      I got my hepatica seed from Ashwoods. You can pre order and they send the seed when it is ready. I went for noblis as it’s meant to be the easiest

  3. Good idea to wait a little bit before making quick decisions about the plunge. I’m sure something good will come to put it to use.
    You really seem to have reinvented your garden over the last few years and it shows well. The workshop and paths are so inviting and it draw you into the garden. I’m sure the new emphasis on the layered look will only add to this.
    Glad to hear you have your seed mojo back!

  4. The cane domes are wonderful, I wonder if they are for sale in our country, I could use some to protect young shoots against rabbits. And…..I envy your Hepaticas, I tried them from plants and seed but no success, they always disappear after a year or so. Hope you are more successful.

    1. Hi Janneke
      If you look in the comments you will see a link to the supplier of the cloches – I dont know if they deliver overseas. Yes I think hepaticas are challenging but I do like a challenge


  5. I really hope you enjoy your ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Helen. I think it is a stunning plant and use it a lot. Its only drawback is that I don’t always find it to be so long-lived, so don’t blame yourself if it only lasts a couple of years. If you remember reading my blog about Lambley Nursery last month (you commented re Beth Chatto), that is where this plant was bred, in a tiny little hamlet in the middle of Australia!

    1. Hi Janna
      I do love know the background to plants. I understand from a local nurseryman that it is doing very well in the AGM trials at RHS Wisley. The Euphorbia Silver Swan that is thriving in my garden has died in the trial! Although I have very different soil to Wisley and it is quite an exposed site. I will try to take cuttings in May of both of them as an insurance.

  6. It must be strange to think of your border as ‘done’ – it’s so tempting to think you can fit something else in, forgetting how bushy things become 😉 I have white honesty in the bed with my snowdrop specials and it self seeds happily so you should be OK too. I had to smile about your hepatica as Bob Brown dismissed them in the recent Which? Gardening as not worth the bother as they could be difficult, suggesting Anemone blanda instead – but challenges are good!

    1. Hi Cathy
      Maybe it’s a natural progression for me to hepaticas as I have quite a few Anemone nemorosa and I do like a challenge

    2. 🙂 and on re-reading the article the title was ‘Results, not Challenges’ and he said ‘I suppose it’s really about gardeners who want gardens versus plantsmen who collect plants and love the challenge of growing a difficult plant’. You would think he would be in that second category – but not, it seems, with hepaticas 🙂

    3. Although Bob is rude about those that collect snowdrops but it is surprising how many he can recognise when presenting with a vase of different ones. He does it on purpose to prompt discussion at our group and there is always a twinkle in the eye

  7. That Saturday afternoon hint of spring was absolutely glorious Helen and it was t-shirt weather here until an allotment association committee meeting spoilt the proceedings 😦 I did not think that you would resist seed sowing for any length of time. If you already have electricity in the greenhouse it probably would not cost a vast fortune to convert the plunge bed into a propagation unit or a heated sand bench.

  8. What a productive weekend you had Helen – I am hoping I will do as well this weekend as all the family are out being busy elsewhere. Your new shade planting is very interesting – I have a bigger area under some trees where I am trying to establish very similar planting. I have white dicentra which is doing well, as are brunnera Jack Frost. Surprisingly the epimediums are struggling to settle in and I am having a job with the Lily of the Valley – I thought it would spread happily but after 3 years of planting pips each year there is still no sign of any spreading. I am going to move the 3 hellebores in this area out into the sun – I find they bulk up much more quickly in full sun. I like your idea of honesty and foxgloves – it would be nice to have some late spring colour in this area. I am also building up a collection of ferns to take over in the summer and give the area a feeling of lushness. I hope your new planting scheme settles in well.

    1. Hi Julie
      I have heard that lily of the valley can struggle to establish. It has done well in other parts of my garden though. Epimediums need to be planted in a large hole and a touch deeper than the pot, you also need to make sure you give them a good drink when you plant them and when it is very dry during the summer. Try grandiflorum as it doesn’t mind dry shade and is a good doer

    2. Thank you Helen – that is really helpful advice – perhaps I am taking their reputation for dry shade a little too literally!

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