Developing the woodland borders

It’s funny how things turn out. I set out this weekend with the aim of spreading the four bags of wood chips that have been sitting in the garden for the last two months.  Whilst, this was actually quite quick to do with the smaller border in the front garden getting a thick mulch and the bottom path getting a top-dressing, I found myself drifting into doing more.  I think this is the first weekend for some months when my gardening hasn’t been all about completing time sensitive tasks but more about just being outside in the fresh air.Instead of tidying around the house and lower garden, as has been mine habit for some time, I decided to tackle one of the more neglected parts of the garden – the old bog garden which is now a woodland border and in need of a good tidy up.  The planting here is predominately ferns including a beautiful Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis) just going over, a host of Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) which fill much of the border when in leaf and a self-sown Harts tongue Fern (Asplenium scolopendrium).  They have been doing so well I have decided to make ferns the real focus of this border and so out came a scruffy Lysimachia which is showing potential to take over the border. I have replaced it with a large Japanese Fern Holly (Cyrtomium falcatum) which has been sitting in a pot all summer waiting for a new home.  It’s funny that I have been wondering where to place the fern for most of the year and its new position is just so right that I’m surprised it wasn’ t obvious to me sooner.

What you can’t really see is that the border is full of snowdrops just pushing their way through the soil, much earlier than I would have expected.  They are more advanced that Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ which is normally one of the first to flower at Christmas, as the name suggests.

It isn’t only the snowdrops that seem to be ahead of the game.  I also discovered this hellebore full of flower bud; and the camellia also has plump buds when it isn’t due to flower until next Spring.  I guess the plants are a little confused by the cold snap we had followed by mild weather.  It will be interesting to see how it plays out this Winter and Spring.

All in all I found myself pottering away outside for around four hours over the weekend.  I feel like I have almost found my old myself and my enthusiasm for the garden is sneaking back.  Plants and plans are beginning to creep back into my late night musings which makes a nice change to stressing about work issues. I suspect I should have pushed myself outside more some time ago.

But for now I am in need of another batch of wood chip to top dress the border and top path.

End of Year View – 2017

As 2017 draws to a close I thought I would capture the garden as the year turns.  I could say “in all its glory” but that would be an exaggeration as the garden has suffered from my lack of interest this year and is looking a little worse for wear.

I’ve taken these photos with a wide-angle lens as I always find it hard to take photos of my garden which is rather wide with access from one side (see garden plan via link at top of page).

It is interesting that having spent little time in the garden this year, and indeed even less writing this blog or engaging with horticultural social media, I find that  I am seeing the garden with fresh eyes.  I find that I am more critical of the planting and less sentimental about the plants.   However, on the whole the structure and layout of the garden is all right it is really a case of bringing the planting together.  As Gertrude Jekyll argues “the possession of a quantity of plants, however good the plants may be themselves and however ample their number, does not make a garden; it only makes a collection”.  This is a fair assessment of much of my garden so my aim is to make a garden from what I have.

The one change to the structure of the garden is the removal of the very top path which runs along the back of the garden.  It is a path that goes no where and was put in when I originally cleared the slope to give access. However, the wood planking which has supported the terraces is beginning to rot due to age and it is rather challenging walking along the path.  But in truth I hardly go to the top of the garden and I have decided to remove the path which will given me more planting space for shrubs.

Over the Christmas break, when it isn’t snowing, I have started the big job of tidying up the garden.  As well as the normal piles of leaves to collect up there is a lot of cutting back and weeding to do and pruning.  In fact I spent yesterday trying to find the back fence under a sea of pyracanthus.  As I hadn’t pruned the bushes for a year or so they had become top heavy and the snow pushed them away from the fence they were meant to be clothing.  After some satisfying hard pruning order has returned and some Chaenomeles in flower has been discovered – missed in the Boxing Day Flower Count.

I’ve prioritised the borders which have a lot of spring bulbs – well the ones with lots of snowdrops.  This explains why the border along the patio looks so bare as it is full of snowdrops and eranthis.

The greenhouse was the first space to be tidied, back in November, and is as ever full with all my tender plants.

Finally a view of the front garden which has been a triumph this year – though it might not look it now.

I’m hoping that now I have decided to stay put  I can enjoy the benefit of my hard work over the last 13 years and continue to delight in the view of the hills which I have realised are so important to me.

 

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone who drops by this blog a Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.

Instead of a plant themed Christmas greeting I am sharing with you my Christmas sewing and craft projects this year.  I have really embraced my love of sewing and embroidery this year and made some lovely new friends through it.  Apologies for the poor quality photos, they are from my Instagram account and have lost something in quality in the transition to the blog.

The top photo shows a wall-hanging I have made this year.  The centre is embroidered in red work and has a quilted border.  It’s only my second wall-hanging  so I am pleased with the outcome.

The cushion was designed and made for my Embroiderers Guild Christmas competition.  The theme was ‘stars’ and I was thrilled to claim second place against tough competition. You can see the other entries on our Facebook page (see 16th December). I have to say though that sewing on white felt wasn’t the best idea and I learnt that I’m not very good at repetitive things.

My final project is a ribbon wreath.  It was very easy to make just involved a lot of ribbon cutting and tying – simple but effective

I hope you enjoyed seeing something different to my usual plant themed photos.  If you are interested in my handicrafts I share them on my Instagram account and maybe I will share some more on the blog in the New Year.

So it just leaves me to say Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

After the Snow

and we certainly had snow, about 20cm deep in less than 24 hours just over a week ago.  Whilst we have had heavy snow in the past, some four or five years ago, we haven’t had so much snow in such a short period of time.

And it was the best of snow; soft, fluffy, powdery.  So much of it weighing down branches, flattening the fragile grass stems, crystallising the Fatsia flower heads causing them to snap off.

It was so still, so quiet, nothing moved for hours not even a wind to waft the snow off the allium seed head.

Now on the shortest day of the year the snow has gone and I’m on leave and I finally have the opportunity to see the garden in the daylight and discover unexpected delights.  The first hellebore is flowering and a healthy clump of snowdrops are pushing their snouts upwards – possibly Mrs McNamara.

Removing broken stems and fallen leaves revealed so many fresh new bulb shoots – so much promise for the new year.

 

 

 

Fading Beauty and Hellebore Leaves

As I slowly re-engage with my garden it seems to me that this autumn has been unusually mild.  Even a couple of cold nights this last week seem to have made little difference to the garden.  It all looks as green and verdant as ever with some plants seemly thinking it is Spring like the potted Crocosmia which are already re-shooting.

I presume the mild weather is also prompting the hellebores to flower earlier.  My experience is that the whites tend to flower earlier than other hellebores with the yellow, if I remember rightly, flowering last but I’m sure this hellebore doesn’t normally flower before Christmas.  I only stumbled on it by accident amongst the neglected border because at the back of my mind was a notion that I should be removing the hellebore leaves around now.

I remove the leaves religiously every winter so the flowers stand out but I often find myself wondering what the consequences would be if I didn’t.  I suspect there wouldn’t be any consequences as in the wild Mother Nature doesn’t go along removing leaves so the hellebore flowers stand out better.  Apparently we remove the old leaves to also help reduce the likelihood of hellebore leaf spot (Microsphaeropsis hellebori (syn. Coniothyrium hellebori). Some of my hellebores do show some signs of this disease so presumably I should continue with this approach but I feel more relaxed about my gardening practice these days so maybe a few plants won’t find themselves as thoroughly de-leafed as before.

 

End of Month View – December 2016

I have to admit that my lackadaisical approach to the blog and to a lesser degree the garden meant that I had forgotten about this month’s End of Month View post until Steve over at Glebe House Garden reminded me. Looking at his beautiful garden and great post put me to shame so here I am trying to do better!

To be honest I have struggled with the meme for most of the year, missing August and July completely.  I think it is because I started off the year with the intention of focussing on the front garden and I wrote a post about how awful it was.  I had intended to tweak and amend the front garden during the year and use the meme to help me improve things.  However, the January blog post led to me deciding to just bite the bullet and dig up the front lawn.  My son asked me today why I didn’t use the development of the Front Garden during 2016 as the theme for the meme and I had to confess that it was because I have a bad habit of not finishing things at the moment and I didn’t want to set myself up.  Anyway, behind the scenes the front garden has been transformed and I love it so maybe 2017 I will share it with you.

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Having decided not to continue with Plan A for the meme I had to quickly find an alternative area to focus on.  I remember feeling that I had covered most of the garden, it’s not very large, over previous years and I should focus on a part I didn’t show much.  The result was selecting Hugh’s Border to showcase – Hugh is the name of the willow owl that presides over the border.  The trouble is that the reason I don’t show this border much is because it continues to not be right and I’m not sure why or even how to address it.  The end of the border in which Hugh resides has been consistently in the shade for years whilst the other end has some degree of sunshine.  The shady end is planted with ferns and shade lovers but there is something lacking; as for the other end well to be frank I have perfected the art of looking over it from the bench to the rest of the garden which shows you how difficult I find it.

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However, now that my neighbours have removed the trees and to be frank scrubby hedge my garden is flooded with light.  At first I found the loss of the boundary plants challenging as I felt quite exposed but after a week or so it became more normal and I could see the huge benefits of the garden being opened up to the sun!  I am hoping that in 2017 I can really embrace this, particularly in relation to Hugh’s Border and finally get my head round coming up with a, for wont of a better word, theme for the border.  Something that will pull it together, give all round interest with some seasonal highlights.  The bench end has a pinky/red colour theme waiting to be unleashed building on the Prunus kojo-no-mai, Sorbus vilmorinii and Rose ‘Hot Chocolate’ flowers and fruit and I am thinking of adding a couple more Amnethela lessionia along the grass path side to mirror the other side and give a sense of movement or journey as you look down the path. In the meantime I think Hugh needs to come in for a bit of a tidy up.

Any one is welcome to join in with the End of Month View meme and you can use it how you wish – there are no rules.  Some people focus on one area, others give a tour of their garden – whatever works for you.  All I ask in return is that you link to my EMOV post in your post (provided I have done one of course!) and leave a comment on my post so others can find you.

 

 

Boxing Day Flower Count 2016

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’
Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

Curiously the mild winter we are having hasn’t resulted in lots of flowers in the garden this Boxing Day.  Last year I had a bumper count at 35 and I put this down to last year’s mild winter but presumably it is more subtle than that. I do believe that some plants need a cold snap to help them start flower but that’s just wild guess work on my part.

Mahonia 'Media Charity'
Mahonia ‘Media Charity’

My Mahonia has finally forgiven me for being lopped probably 3 years ago.  I wanted to avoid a shrub with just one stem so I chopped it down to the ground and then spent a year, almost, anxiously watching to see if anything would appear.  Finally new shoots reluctantly put in an appearance and the shrub now has 3 stems and is producing good size flowers.

Grevillea victoriae
Grevillea victoriae

Grevillea victoriae is my favourite shrub at the moment. It is one of two Grevilleas I have – the second being Grevillea Canberra Gem – and I adore them both.  To be fair the Grevillea victoriae flowers haven’t really opened yet but any excuse to include a photo of it.

Jasminum nudi-florum
Jasminum nudi-florum

A bit of colour on the retaining wall courtesy of Jasminum nudi-florum.  Last year I removed the clematis that also grew in this space and the Jasminum seems to have improved.  I suspect the increased flowering is because I can prune it better without the clematis – I must investigate when I should be pruning the plant as I have a habit of pruning when I think of it.

Euphorbia rigida
Euphorbia rigida

In recent years I have developed a bit of a weakness for Euphorbias and Euphorbia rigida is the first to start flowering although I don’t think the other will be far behind.

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Even the number of primulas in flower this year are less than last year but I can always rely on this lilac, or is it pink, primula to be flowering at Christmas.

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The first snowdrop is about to pop open its flowers.  I can’t for the life of me remember which variety this is and the label seems to have gone missing.  I will have to do some research on the blog to see if it has featured at this time of the year in the past.

Cyclamen cyprium
Cyclamen cyprium

In the greenhouse this little Cyclamen is flowering, I may have to keep a magnifying glass in the greenhouse just so I can see the flowers.

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Although the number of plants flowering this Boxing Day is significantly down on last year, at a mere 12 compared to 35 last year and 17 the year before there are buds a plenty.  The hellebore above will be flowering soon and other are hot on its heels; last year some were already in flower which was rather early.

You can access previous Boxing Day flower count posts here

Boxing Day 2015
Boxing Day 2014

Boxing Day 2013
Boxing Day 2012
Boxing Day 2011