End of Month View – March 2020

It is ages since I posted an End of Month View post.  I have been hosting this meme for something like 10 years and I think that I just ran out of steam. But now I have started to post again I thought I would post an EOMV post and as I haven’t posted much for ages I thought I would give you a tour of the garden – front and back. You can access a plan of the back garden here

So we are starting in the front garden.  I have quite a deep front garden and a couple of years back I decided to get rid of the front lawn as it was just boring. I put a path in purely for decorative purposes and to allow some access for me to manage the plants.  The driveway runs parallel to this area, and the photo is from the top of the driveway.  The planting has filled out a lot over the last few years.  There are a lot of asters and grasses in the area to the left of the path, which is much deeper than the photo implies.  I am now working through removing most of the asters as I want interest throughout the year not just in late summer.  I have this last weekend added the Anemanthele lessoniana to the border, which has been relocated from the back garden.

This is a rather boring photo of the front of the house but I am super pleased with the new path that went in last year.  I’m also really pleased with the narrow border under one of the front windows.  It has been a difficult border for years, due to the builders rubble but the various succulents seem to thrive here; so I’m going to do the same on the other side of the front door.

So we go along the lovely new path and down the side of the house, past my son’s wood store and you come to the back patio and my random pile of pots and compost.  But this photo does show you the difference in the height between the patio and the back garden.

Here is my patio, not the most glamorous of patios but it does the job.  Lots of seedlings in pots to be sorted, the majority of these are peony seedlings from a couple of years ago; turns out I’m quite adept at germinating peonies.

A warts and all view of the other end of the patio.  The area to the left used to be the fern border.  However, the ferns were deteriorating as the rosemary was shading them out.  The ferns were moved about a year ago and I decided to remove the border and continue the paving to make this area bigger and more practical.  However, life got in the way and I haven’t yet completed shifting the soil.

You go up the steps at the end of the patio and you find the bark path to your left.  The border to the left is the rose border.  I have accumulated a number of roses here over the years and the border is backed by 3 step-over apple trees which I have trained from whips.  I started off with just roses and herbs but the other week I have added a few plants from the Big Border (to the right) including some Agapanthus divisions.

The border to the right is the Big Border that is going to be home to my edibles, see last post.

If you continue straight up from the steps you come to the grass path on your left and this goes across the top of the Big Border.  The grass isn’t in very good condition at the moment and is covered in soil from my work clearing the border.  I built the retaining wall to the right of the path this time last year and it has worked well.  It has reduced the slope of the border and the plants seem to just look better.  I also like the structure it gives.

View from the other end of the grass path – not a great photo but it gives a sense of the slope of the garden.

From the grass path you can see the back slope of the garden, which is quite steep.  If you look at the garden plan on the blog you will see that there used to be a path along the top of the slope. I have got rid of this over the last couple of years as it served no purpose.  Instead I have more planting space and I have been moving shrubs in along the top of the slope to create some shrubby cover.

And this is the far top corner, which I call Maisie’s Corner as my beloved cat is buried here.  The compost bins were here until a couple of years ago and we removed them as they were a nightmare to manage.  Instead I have a large shady spot and have moved a number of the ferns from the patio border here, along with some shrubs which had outgrown their homes. We buried Maisie here as it was one of her favourite places and I still find it hard to garden here as I miss her so much.

So there’s my garden warts and all at the end of a reasonably wet March.  Given that we are self-isolating now for a while I hope to be able to get out and start to sort it out more.  However, the reality is that my work is very demanding and I’m finding myself stuck in front of a laptop every day but at least I get to sit in the garden for lunch on a sunny day which is a definite improvement on the normal working week.

 

Six on Saturday – 30th March 2019

Narcissus Thalia

Like the host of this meme I find myself resenting time away from the garden at the moment.  Today I would normally go to an HPS meeting but it was either sit in a village hall discussing plants or actually be outside in the garden getting on with sorting out my garden – I chose the garden.

I prefer to garden early in the day or in the evening when others aren’t around as it allows me to turn off completely, hear the bees humming and the birds singing.  I like to immerse myself in the garden, thinking about what plant might work where, why is this plant not looking so good, how can I improve that border? So I am looking forward to the evenings getting lighter.

With the wonderful forecast this weekend I was out in the garden as soon as I had done the weekly shop. I wanted to take my Six on Saturday photos first thing as the sun was making the garden glow but it turned out that both my camera batteries were dead so unfortunately the photos don’t reflect the beautiful light we had today. The Prunus is groaning with blossom which in turn means the air is positively alive with bees.

After a couple of years of disengagement with the garden my gardening mojo is well and truly back but slightly different.  It has grown up, it is more mature and considered and better informed

My focus today was the very top left hand corner of the garden.  As you can see some of the fencing is missing which is down to my neighbours.  When they moved in they cut down all the trees and shrubs along the boundaries, which I can understand as it was so overgrown, but the trees and shrubs did hold up the fence which was collapsing from years of neglect by the previous owners.  I think they plan to replace the fence soon but in the meantime I feel a little exposed when I am in this part of the garden – my privacy is important to me. I sensed my neighbours were out today so it seemed a good time to tackle this corner.  It fits with my approach to getting a grip of the garden starting at the top and working my way down. This area used to be home to the compost bins which I removed last summer. I have planted it up with a number of shrubs which were either in pots on the patio or had to be moved to give other plants space.

I’m hoping that the range of shrubs: camellia, tree peony, hydrangeas will give round the year interest.  I had added a few ferns and also a helleborus foetidus which was over growing a path.  I also added narcissus and snowdrop bulbs back last autumn which put on a good display up to a week or so ago.  Today, I weeded, pruned, removed some brambles and sycamore seedlings from the very top and added a couple of Acunthus mollis.

Just to the right of the area I worked on today is an area I started work on almost to the day last year.  There used to be a woodchip path along the top of the garden but it led nowhere and I spent more time trying to keep it weeded then anything else.  The wood edging had rotted and to be honest the path was becoming dangerous so last year I removed the wood edging and I have slowly but surely been digging up and removing the rubble that formed the base of the path.  The area of bare soil in the photo above was the very last bit of the path which I finally removed last week.  I can now use this space for some ferns, epimediums and hellebores which need moving. I am trying to create a tapestry of foliage to give interest all year round.

My new approach is beginning to show dividends elsewhere in the garden.  Above is the top of the garden to the right where I removed the path last year.  This area is awash with honesty (Lunaria annua) which seeds itself around the garden.  I used to have a white variegated honesty but seem to have lost it over the past few years so I think I will try to find some more seeds and reintroduce it. I discovered that the Melianthus major above is also flowering like the one next to the shed which is really good.

Finally, I will leave you with the first tulips to open this year in the garden.  They were in a selection pack of tulips and I think they are Tulip ‘Elegant Lady’ – I do like the softness of the colour and think I may try to add some more next year.

I have had a wonderful day today gardening for far more hours than any other day this year and I ache all over which is often a sign of a good day.

For more Six on Saturday posts visit the Propagator’s Blog.

 

Six on Saturday – 23rd March 2019

Anemone coronaria ‘Bordeaux’

A lovely sunny day in the garden, finally, with no particular plans just being.  I am enjoying this meme as it makes me really look at what is looking best in the garden. I have a mooch around the garden taking photos of anything interesting.  However, it took a few walks around the garden before I spotted the Anemone coronaria ‘Bordeaux’; which was a real thrill as I have tried to establish this before and failed.

Pulstilla vulgaris ‘Papageno’

Not far away I found Pulstilla vulgaris ‘Papageno’ which was new a couple of years ago and seems to be establishing itself.

I have been bemoaning the fact that the primroses haven’t been reappearing this year and they never seem to bulk up but I did find this double primrose.

There are quite a few tulips almost ready to flower in the garden.  I really like the serrated edge of the petals of this one.

I thought I would include the Forsythia as I think it is really underrated and people can be quite snobbish about it but what’s not to like about those lovely yellow flowers.

Melianthus major

Finally, I discovered that the Melianthus major is flowering.  It doesn’t flower every year and I think the flowering is brought on by the warmer temperatures.  There are two flower spikes so far.  They are fascinating to watch as the spike slowly grows and unfurls over a number of weeks.

So those are my favourite things this week – for more Six on Saturday pop over the the Propagator’s Blog.

Six on Saturday – 16 March 2019

Yes, I know it’s Sunday but as ever I have failed to get my act together to do a post on Saturday – it is what it is. In any case Saturday was definitely not a gardening day with extreme winds and rainy showers but this was all right as I went to my monthly Embroiderer’s Guild meeting (yes I have a whole other hobby which is over on my other blog).

Sunday has been a very different day with lovely periods of sunshine although we have a few random hail showers, weirdly at the front of the house and not the back.  The above photo is of the front garden – for those new to the blog I dug up the front lawn about 3 years ago and planted up the whole space with a path running through the middle. The area above is the bit nearest the house and last year I had the driveway replaced and the path across the front of the house replaced with block paving; which transformed the front garden.

However, the area of the other side of the path (above) needs more work.  When I planted it up it was with a late summer feel with lots of asters but now I feel it needs to have a more year round vibe.  The border is quite deep so I think I will add a shrub or two, I have something that needs relocating from the back garden and I will reduce some of the late summer perennials and replace them with early summer perennials.

As the garden was looking so pretty in the Spring sunshine I thought I would show the middle border in the back garden which is filling out.  It’s full of Camassias which have established well and bulked up, possibly too much.  I’m planning on thinning them out and maybe moving a few to the front garden to give some late Spring interest.

But whilst I was pondering the plans for the front garden I thought I really should finish the dry stone wall I started the other week so at least I felt I had achieved something plus I have a few plants which would benefit from being planted to grow over the wall.  As you can see I managed to eek out the stone for the length of the border.  It is a little unstable in places and dips occasionally but it is a lot better than before and I am really chuffed with it (I just need the grass path to recover now!)

For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagtors blog.

A bit of wall construction

Whilst I haven’t had much time in the garden over the past few weeks due to the weather and a sick cat that time has been quite productive.  There is of course a lot of tidying up that needs to be done, weeding etc but I needed to have something which would give me more instant gratification so I have decided to tackle a project that’s been on my mind for a while.

The border with the cherry tree slopes quite steeply to the path and I have struggled for years to make this area work.  The plants I want to plant here are generally small alpine type plants which benefit from the drainage and the sunshine but they get lost in the border so I needed some definition something to set them against.  Given that we live on the side of the Malvern hills and dig up Malvern stone (granite) all the time we have a reasonable supply of stone so it seems sensible to use it to create a sort of retaining wall.

The construction started off fairly well but dry stone walling is an art form that I have little practice off and it seems to me that its very much a matter of luck as to whether you can find stones that fit together or not. You need fairly flat stones at the bottom to rest the next layers on but many of the stones we have are anything but flat so there is a lot of fiddling around and carrying stones back and forth trying to make it work. Also there are only so many of the larger stones and I am finding that the stones are getting smaller and when I stand back and look from a distance the wall seems to go lower.  I think there are some more stones further up the garden which I might be able to use but it is what it is and it has allowed me to reduce the slope and the plants have a nice foil to grow against.

I’m hoping to use some of the gaps between stones for succulents and maybe lewisias or auriculas.

All told though I am pleased with the change and hopefully there will be enough stone to get to the far end of the border but if not I will have to come up with some sort of artistic way to make a shorter wall look intentional!

Six on Saturday – 9th March

Prunus kojo no mai

March seems to have roared in like a lion, which hopefully will mean it will end like a lamb but we will wait to see if that old adage is true.  Today we had another day full of blustery winds and squally showers, intermingled with sunshine, which at first seemed a good day for gardening but that blustery wind was very cold, cutting right through me.  The result was about an hour of gardening but at least the cobwebs were blown away.

Hepatica noblis

The garden is positively glowing now with dainty little spring flowers popping up here and there.  The Prunus kojo no mai is just coming into flower.  I love this shrub, its about 6ft tall, has slightly crooked stems and the most delicate pale pink flowers which remind me of tissue paper.  Another thrill was to find the Hepatica noblis flowering, especially as it is slowly but surely bulking up.

I think this is a form of Hyacinth but I need to have a rummage around to find the label, I don’t remember this plant flowering so well in the past so it is really a bit of a mystery.  It may well have been one of the pots of bulbs I used to have when I dabbled in growing alpines and I ended up planting out last year as I was fed up with all the pots.

Tulipa turkestanica

Tulipa turkestanica is another one of those bulbs that I used to grow in pots which seems to be doing better now that it is planted out in the border.

 

Melianthus major

The Melianthus major is looking stunning this year.  Last year it was hit by the ‘Beast from the East’ but this year the warmer weather and rain have led to a very abundant plant.  I am wondering if it will flower this year, there is no sign of any flowers at the moment but I am optimistic.  Even if it doesn’t flower the foliage is wonderful.

Sadly though some of the flowers have fallen victim to the wind.

For more Six on Saturday visit The Propagator’s blog.

 

End of Month View: March 2018

My apologies for the delay in this post which should have been published yesterday. I have been somewhat distracted by a lack of heating, hot water and reduced cooking appliances since Thursday.  I won’t bore you with the details suffice to say it’s not due to am oversight on bill payment. The situation should be resolved on Tuesday but in the meantime I have been unbelievably distracted with staying warm.  The persistent cold and damp weather have not helped the situation and sitting by a fire hand quilting a double quilt has been more attractive than sticking my head outside all of which makes me sound quite old!

Anyway, I have woken to sunshine this morning and a light bulb moment of “goodness it’s the start of April and I am late on the EOMV post” so here goes – at least the photos are sunnier than if I had taken them yesterday in the rain.

The above photo is what I call the bench shot because I stand on the patio bench go take it. I was going to say that not much has changed over the last month especially as we had yet more snow but actually things are starting to happen. The first daffodils are flowering adding extra sparkles of colour to the hellebores. I plan to add loads more narcissus for next Spring and will try to remember to make some notes of the gaps that need filling over the next few weeks.  I also want to add lots of the tiny blue and pink bulbs – Scillas, Chionodoxa, Pushchkinia and Ipheion. There is a mass of these at work which just looks stunning at the moment.

And it’s not just the bulbs that are making an effort the Prunus kojo-no-mai has started to flower and should shortly be followed by the large unidentified Prunus and the Amelanchier and Elder are both beginning to unfurl their leaves.  My gardening friends at HPS agree that spring is going to come with a rush this year and we will be playing catch up so I’m off this morning to sow some half hardy annuals in the greenhouse.

Whilst it might not seem like much has changed over the last month in the garden I have been busy when the weather has allowed. I have made real progress in redoing the back of the garden and am now starting to think about what plant needs to go where. My task today will be to dig up the Buddleja salviifolia, which you can just see behind the top bench, and bring it down to a more sheltered position on the patio. Hopefully it won’t be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted; as you can just about see it looks a little bedraggled and has suffered in the cold winds. The Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ in front of it will also probably be moved as it’s grey leaves may not work with the new planting but we shall see. I can’t quite visualise it yet but if I pot up the Euphorbia it will clear the space and I will be able to see it with fresh eyes.

As I break down the back terrace to make a slope I am having to dig up all sorts of seedlings and perennials and relocate them around the garden.  It is amazing how many aquilegia seedlings there are although I suspect they will all be that dirty pink that aquilegia seedlings tend to be. Nevertheless, I have been popping them in any gaps I can find in the borders so we shall see.

So this is my garden at the end of March and I am amazed how much colour there is despite the cold and damp.

If you would like to join in with the End of Month View meme you are very welcome to, the more the merrier.  All I ask is that you link to this post in yours and leave a link to your post in the comments box below so we can all come for a visit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring at last

 

Anemone coronaria ‘Brodeaux’

Hoorah a sunny Sunday at long last with temperature creeping into double figures.  But what to do and where to start? Having been unable to garden for several weekends due to the cold and wet the jobs are mounting up.  The situation isn’t helped by the fact that I have started some major renovation at the top of the garden and also on the patio – they are strangely connected.

Hepatica nobilis

The sunshine has encouraged the dainty Hepatica to open their flowers.  I am really pleased with these as I grew them from seed a few years back and this is at least the second year they have flowered.

Tulipa turkestanica

The first tulips are flowering.  I believe these are Tulipa turkestanica  which is a small dainty tulip native to central Asia.  I used to grow the bulbs in pots and the plants were floppy with weak stems.  Last year I planted the bulbs out into the Big Border which is rapidly becoming the ‘Bulb Border’.  I keep adding gravel to the border and old compost and this has resulted in excellent free draining soil ideal for bulbs. The Tulipa turkestanica is now growing more robustly with good strong stems.

This photo shows my renovations at the top of the garden.  We have removed all the scaffolding boards which terraced the top of the garden, mainly as they were rotting after some ten years of holding the garden up.  Instead of flat terraces I am reverting back to a slope but my plan now is to plant it up with shrubs and large leafed perennials to create a sort of hardy exotic feel to the top of the garden.  If I do it well then it shouldn’t need too much maintenance so the slope won’t be an issue.

In the meantime my eldest son has been making a coffee table for his brother and fiancée’s new home.  We are very impressed with how clever he is; hopefully I will be getting a sewing table soon.

Its all about the hellebores – GBBD March ’18

This month we have moved on from snowdrops to the hellebores, although the snowdrops are still just there in the background as if frozen in time due to the cold snap.

I love hellebores, they are one of my many weakness.  I love their nodding demure heads which only reveal their real beauty when you lift them upwards.

I have quite a selection accumulated over the years, normally adding at least one a year, bought from Ashwood Nurseries, so they are all Ashwood hybrids.  They are slowly bulking up and merrily seeding around the garden.

But it’s not all hellebores and snowdrops flowering in the garden.  They are now being joined by crocus, hammelias, and violas which have been flowering since October.

Crocus Pickwick
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise

So these are my floral delights for March.  Thank you to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting this wonderful meme.