Notes from the Garden – 10th April

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I think we have had all four seasons this weekend with wind, rain and heavy sleet yesterday and frost overnight but today spring returned which meant I could get on with my planting plans.


The focus today was the long border along the top of the wall.  I want it to have a sort of cottage garden feel and in recent years have added a number of roses, alliums and aquilegias.  Today, having weeded I added some Digitalis purpurea ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ and  Digitalis mertonensis both of which should add height to the border.  Also a topiary bay has been relocated to mid-way down the border as it has languished in a pot on the patio for so long that when I tried to move it this week I discovered it had rooted into the ground through the gaps in the paving slabs.  It took two of us to get the plant out of the pot and haul it up the garden but hopefully it will be a lot happier now in the border and the yellowing leaves will green up.  I plan to add some Echinacea seedlings in a few weeks time once they have had a chance to bulk up – they are just starting their third year so hopefully they will be ready to flower this year.


Talking of seedlings and hoping they will flower I was completely thrilled to discover that all four of my Meconopsisbaileyi ‘Hensol Violet’ seedlings had reappeared.  Like the Echinacea they are in their third year so I am hoping they will flower as well which would be quite amazing.  They have had a good mulch of ericaceous compost to try to encourage them.  In fact there has been a lot of feeding going on with the roses and peonies having a good mulch of manure.


My epic re-distribution of plants programme is well under way and nearly completed in the back garden – there is just a sad bamboo to extract which I suspect will be a real challenge.  Over Easter I started relocating the hellebores from near the bench to the far end of the Big Border.  Above is Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’ which I think works well with Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and the Amenthalea lessonia.  There is a pale yellow hellebore just past the bottom of the photograph and strangely they all seem to work well together.  I have added some corms of a short bronze leaved crocosmia for interest in late summer. To the right of the photo is a Cotinus ‘Grace’ and its purple leaves are key to the planting at this end of the border.  Although the leaves are not out yet I wanted to ensure that the colour theme was extended throughout the year.


Its wonderful to see so many plants re-emerging after the winter and every time I walk around the garden there is a new delight, sometimes a small spring flower or a plant that I had taken a gamble with has returned. Who knows what delights will appear over the coming week.



28 Comments Add yours

  1. I couldn’t agree more Helen. Seeing the new growth emerging is such a a welcome sight. We are now getting past our resurgent winter from last week and look forward to spring so we can get on with gardening here. I love the idea of ‘epic re-distribution of plants programme’. I have that to do one of these days. But it is all looking splendid there now.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Donna
      I’m move plants too much but I think it’s because I am learning about them and I have bought too many on whims and then need to work out where to put them. I am trying to be more considered!! Hope your Spring has indeed arrived

  2. rusty duck says:

    Love that first pic. The garden looks fantastic!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Thanks Jessica, I am pleased with it at the moment

  3. Joe Lewis says:

    Hello Helen, the hellebore with the euphorbia is a great combination and the grass lightens the group. I have a similar combination but without the grass – but I’m going to add one. Thanks! Have you thought about some snakes head fritillaries in between? I think they would look sensational. Joe

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Joe
      Good idea, but the area is already underplanted with anemones

  4. I don’t think we quite had snow, but yes, pretty much everything else. Good to know you made progress on your epic reorganisation anyway!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Rachel
      The sleet took so long to melt that it almost looked like snow

  5. I love that red hellebore, it looks beautiful in the spring sunshine.

    I have a Meconopsis ‘Hensol Violet’ which flowered last year for the first time, it’s worth the wait.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Barnsley
      Now I want the meconopsis to flower even more, I shall be so disappointed if they don’t, more plants under so much pressure!

  6. Renee says:

    What wonderful combinations! I should follow your good example and plan for color combos throughout the year, rather than the random ones I plant by accident. Here we had rain this week (very exciting!) and now I can’t wait to see what all starts growing this spring.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Renee
      I have only recently started to really think about colour combinations and trying to plan more so it’s a bit of a gamble really

  7. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Hi Helen – Your new growth looks great. Talking about bay tree – here in Auckland it grows into a HUGE tree. I had one that I kept at about a metre tall but it suckered like crazy and got rid of it. Does it do this in England? We have one in a large pot here and Cherry keeps chopping it back. I think autumn has arrived = yesterday rain and a drop in temperature to 16 degrees – brrrrr. Need a light cardy now! Even had bed socks of as cold feet!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      I have to admit I am a little nervous about planting the bay in the border? If it shows signs of taking over it will be removed very quickly!

  8. Hannah Shine says:

    Love your garden and reading your plans. I am a therapist as well as a keen gardener. Rescue Remedy (made by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930’s) is for shock and trauma…. and it works for plants too. It consists of the essence of five flowers (Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Clematis, Impatiens and Cherry Plum). I usually put 3 drops into a can of water and water any plant I want to move, a day or so before moving it (digging it up or transplanting). This remedy was devised for humans and animals, but works very well with plants too and reduces possible losses due to shock. I use it all the time in these situations. We open our Garden for charity during the end May Bank Holiday. Would love you to visit and see if there are any plants you would like! I propagate plants, split plants, grow plants from seed ……

    1. Cathy says:

      I am really intrigued by your use of Bach’s Rescue Remedy, Hannah…definitely something I will look into

    2. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Hannah
      Welcome, your comment about Bach remedy is interesting. I remember using it some years back for myself. Would love to visit. It I don’t know where you are

    3. Hannah Shine says:

      HI Helen

      I’m on Essex/Herts border. Address: Longridge, Sawbridgeworth Road, Hatfield Heath, Bishops Stortford, Herts CM22 7DR. We have fab entertainment all through Sat. 28th May 10.- 4.30 and Sunday, 29th 2 – 5 p.m. Hope you can come. x

  9. Pauline says:

    Your garden is looking beautiful, the first photo is amazing! We too have a bay bush at the edge of the woodland, it is now about 15ft x 12ft so take care with yours!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      I know I am a little nervous about the bay but we will see what happens or I could just move!

  10. Cathy says:

    Always exciting when things re-emerge, or flower for the first time, Helen

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I love spring it’s my favourite time of year

    2. Cathy says:

      I am probably in agreement with you on that one Helen

  11. homeslip says:

    Looking really lovely Helen, makes me want to dig up more of my mossy but clover-rich lawn.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi home slip
      My lawn was mossy with little clover so no great loss

  12. Linda says:

    The garden looks wonderful! I move things a lot. They get too big and crowded or the color combo does not really work. Some things never move but sometimes the garden requires it – as you are showing us.

  13. Anna says:

    My sister got married on the 5th April thirty years ago and had all four seasons squeezed into just the one day 🙂 Your spring garden is looking positively fresh and bursting with life. Fingers crossed that those meconopsis seedlings bear flowers later this year.

  14. Brian Skeys says:

    The first picture is so colourful Helen, you are right to be pleased with it.

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