Notes from the Garden – 20th March 2016



Not such a gorgeous weekend as last weekend which was disappointing given it was the Spring Equinox but fingers crossed Easter will see a change and temperatures will start to improve.  The garden certainly appears to be waiting for the green light although the epimediums seem to have decided they have waited too long.    I am particularly pleased to discover flowering buds on the majority of the other epimediums; worryingly I seem to have accumulated 13 over the last few years.

IMG_4283 1

I do like spring as you have time to really look and see all sorts of delights emerging rather than being overwhelmed with things to look at as you are in the summer. I would like to claim that the combination of the white hyacinth and phormium (above) was planned. But it was a lucky accident with the lime green on the leaf seems to pick up the same colour at the base of each flower.  There are lessons to be learnt here about how plants combine well and that is something I have been reading a lot about recently.

I am reading Andrew Lawson’s The Gardeners Book of Colour which is brilliant.  I have read essays and books about colour with the obligatory colour wheel before but none have ever explained colour, tones and saturation as clearly as Andrew does.  I haven’t got far through the book but I am already thinking about how colour creates an atmosphere and how I might try to use this in my garden especially given the big rejig that is going on.  I am also reading Sarah Raven’s Bold and Beautiful which is also inspiring as I love strong colours but I worry about them looking garish in English light.  I am hoping that between the two books I might learn something useful about combining plants and colour and take my bitty garden forward.


In the meantime I have sown the first seeds in the new propagator – Cobea scandens which I have wanted to try for some years.  I have pruned the prostrate rosemary that falls over the wall back hard so it looks a little embarrassed showing its legs but I know it will re-shoot like mad.  I have also cut back some of the tatty fern foliage from around the garden; it is great to see the new furry fronds ready to emerge as soon as the weather warms up. Peering in the borders I found both Iris danfordiae and iris tuberosa flowering but my photos arent up to standard so I will try again for next weekend.  This is the first time both have flowered in the garden so I am hopefully they might establish.

I’ll leave you with what is in my opinion the maddest narcissus

Narcissus Rip Van Winkle

Narcissus Rip Van Winkle


20 Comments on “Notes from the Garden – 20th March 2016

  1. Oh! that Narcissus Rip Van Winkle is great! I will have to look for that one. Narcissus are one of the few spring bulbs that do well here, and i’d like to get some more unique ones.

    • Hi Renee
      It’s a very short narcissus, for front of border or in a pot

  2. Yellow such a ‘springy’ colour. I notice my first daff leaves have popped up – early autumn here. Warm windy but a least a little rain. My beans won’t stop beaning!!

    • Hi Cathy
      Indeed it does look a little dandelion light, you will laugh when I tell you have I have sown some pink dandelion seeds – if they ever grow andflower I will share.

  3. I agree – quite the most insane narcissus I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever met Rip before – I’m sure I would have remembered!

    • Hi Rachel
      its a small narcissus so for the front of a border. I love it but the flower heads can be a little heavy due to the number of petals which cause the flowers to droop on to the soil

    • Hi Jules
      It is funny I only added the Rip Van Winkle as an after thought to the post but it has caused the most interest! I thought it was quite a well known one but it seems not

  4. I am following your blog with much interest, we have a daughter living in Malvern, who is a keen gardener (well, trying to be) we hail from Worcestershire, although we now live down south, your Epimediums are way ahead of ours!! mind you I most probably dug them up, or planted on top of them!!
    Not sure about Rip though, does he smell good?

    • Hi Angela
      Welcome, I cut the leaves back on my epimediums so you can see the flowers. This one always flowers first the others are further behind with the buds just emerging from the soil. If you daughter is keen on gardening she could check out the Wyche & Colwall Horticultural Society, we meet on the first Monday of the month, very friendly and we have a website, which I do, if you just google the name of the society. If she wants to come along to a meeting and is nervous get her to ask for me on the door or send me a message in advance.

    • Thank you very much, I will tell her, so helpful of you…..

  5. Never seen a narcissus like Rip van Winkle – aptly named because it does look like something out of a fairy story. I loved your admission of the happy accident with the hyacinth and phormium. Happy accidents are always fun. The birds usually leave mine when they wipe their beaks and I have wonderful new plants I have never planted and yet which thrive.

    • Hi Ellie
      I am all for admitting happy mistakes, I dont think we can best Mother Nature no matter how we try. Like you I have random plants in my garden that I know I have never planted so they must have arrived by the birds

  6. My RvW are only just poking their noses through in their baskets – way behind other narcissi. Seeing your lovely epimedium flowers makes me wonder if mine ever flower…will have to observe most closely next year! I aim to their number next year once I am buying plants again!

    • Hi Cathy
      I cut the leaves back on the epimediums a couple of weeks ago although I dont cut back the foliage on the Japanese ones as their flowers bloom above the leaves

    • Gosh, Japanese ones? I know nothing about those, but I had been thinking I might get that RHS book on epimediums which I guess should be helpful

  7. A lot of the best combinations are made by the plants themselves. I like reading books about garden color, although I always feel I’ve forgotten 90% of them within a few days.

    • Hi Jason
      I know what you mean, it all makes perfect sense when I read it but ask me to explain it a few days later and I am at a loss!

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