The spring equinox has brought a weekend of heavenly gardening weather. The sun has shone and there was a light breeze which wafted the big lumbering bumble bees around. The scent from the hyacinths which are planted just at the top of the first flight of steps is absolutely wonderful.
It is amazing how much the plants have come on in the last week. I have two camellias both of them bought from the bargain section of a garden centre. This one is stunning, covered in flowers and seems to be thriving since it was moved to the old Bog Border. The other camellia which is planted next to it has two flowers and the leaves are still sad and chloroitic in appearance. I think it is due to be removed as I have struggled with it for years.
The main area of my focus this weekend was at the top of the garden which has been sadly neglected. I have struggled with this area ever since it was created. The soil can get dry and it is quite a sunny site, probably more so now that the adjacent trees have been loped. I find that I need an idea/theme, call it what you will, to get my head around planting a border and this just hasn’t happened with the top of the garden. Last weekend I weeded the border and realised that it wasn’t actually too bad. The three bamboos are fairly well established now. There is also a fig tree which I had started to grow against a fence but decided to move up here and let it grow more naturally rather than train it. Today I added two evergreen shrubs which I hope will bulk up and add substance to the border as well as mask the fence when you look up the garden. The white flowered shrub that you can see (apologies for the quality of the photo but my camera has broken again and I was struggling with my son’s camera) is Vibrunum tinus ‘Eve Prince’ and right at the end is an Elaeagnus x ebbingei which I am hoping will cope well with the dryish conditions. I have also added a Lathyrus vernus and Nepeta ‘Giant Six Hills’ which should work well with the already established Geraniums palmatums. Less obvious from the above photo is the work I have done on the other side of the path. This is part of the slope that goes behind the workshop and was a mass of weeds last week. I have dug it over and added garden compost and green waste to break up the clay. Then I planted out a collection of plants which had been living on the patio for far too long. I think I might call this the waifs and strays border as they are all plants that I didn’t know where to plant for one reason or another. There are a couple of hydrangeas, a miscanthus, a mahonia, and an agapanthus as well as some small shrublets. Who knows they might all establish and gel together but at least they are in the ground and have a chance now rather than languishing in pots on the patio.
Elsewhere in the garden the first Epimediums are starting to flower. They really are impossibly difficult to photograph. This one is the first I acquired some years back, the label long lost. I now have 11 or 12 different ones and I was thrilled to see flower buds appearing on last year’s acquisitions including Egret which I had been warned could be hard to establish. I also spotted the fat snouts of hostas beginning to push through the soil, the first fern croziers and the fresh young foliage of geraniums.
Looking at the garden there is plenty of colour from the fresh green shoots and spring flowers but it is so hard to catch. I especially like the way the low spring sunshine lights up the garden. I did some weeding and sorting of the Big Border rescuing two geraniums and an aster which had been engulfed by the Euphorbia characias ‘White Swan’ which seems to want to grow a foot across from where I intended it to grow. Having replanted the rescued plants and moved a couple of grasses which were planted poorly last year this border has moved into the ‘watching brief’ category by which I mean that I have no plans to add to the planting, aside from some annuals, and I want to see how the plants develop and whether I have gaps or have planted too closely. I feel as though I have got the majority of the back garden to this point now which is very satisfying and allows me time to focus on propagation and day to day maintenance which will help me achieve the garden that lives in my head.
This month I have decided to focus on one particular plant for the foliage follow up as I keep showing the same old plants month in, month out. My chosen plant is Geranium palmatum which I personally think is a wonderful foliage plant before the electric pink flowers appear. Read any description of the plant and you will see it is frost hardy and short lived. I have a number of these plants grown from seed several years ago and they have come through the last two winters unscathed although admittedly the winters have been mild. I think the lowest temperature we have had is -4C. However, we have had some real frosts which have left the Melianthus major leaves scorched but the most the Geranium palmatum has suffered is some of the older leaves going a blotchy red colour.
I like the leaves as they have a nice ferny texture to them and quite different to other geraniums. They are called palmatum I think due to the palm leaf shapes. You will also see how fresh and glossy the leaves are even in March and they stay like this all year. The only maintenance is to remove the older leaves as they fade.
And look at this wonderful fresh new shoots forming in the middle. As you can see Geranium palmatum grows from a central stem, like Geranium madrense, so cannot be divided like many other Geraniums. I think the only way of propagating it is by seed and I plan to collect some seed this year as an insurance policy in case we have a hard winter this year. But….what really fascinated me where the shiny red leaflets clustered around the leaf stems. So vibrant and attractive and I don’t remember having spotted them before. I only noticed them when I was cutting back dead leaves and weeding around the plant and became completely fascinated by them. They remind me of onion skins, the ones just under the dry outer skins, almost silk like. Its amazing what you discover when you really look at your plants.
For more Foliage Follow Up posts visit Pam over at Digging
I am really pleased with the garden at the moment; it looks so pretty with the pinks, purples and yellows dotted around the borders. Acting as a gentle foil to the bulbs is the Euphorbia characias ‘White Swan’ which is also flowering now.
A lot of the colour is coming from the growing number of primulas in the garden. I really like the Barnhaven Primroses which are meant to be identifable by the yellow eye in the middle of the flower. None of the ones in this post were sold as Barnhaven Primroses but I think they have become so easy to get now that they are quite prevalent. I like the pink streaking on the one above.
This one seems to be the reverse of the one above and I am hoping that it will establish and bulk up. I have recently sown a couple of packets of Barnhaven Primrose seeds so maybe in a year or two I will have a really gaudy spring garden!
I particularly like this soft blue primula which is a nice compliment to the narcissus.
Then there are the hellebores which are also growing in number. I seem to acquire three or four every year and I have noticed that the yellow ones seem to open much earlier than the others with the dark purples opening last.
and finally we have a couple of early flowering narcissus – Tete a Tete and a mysterious shortish one, although taller than Tete a Tete
Not bad for mid March I think, definitely better than last year.
For more Spring Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts pop over to Carols at May Dream Gardens
I have wanted to join in with Cathy’s weekly meme – In a Vase on Monday – for a while.
However, firstly it means posting on a Monday and I post my weekend review on a Sunday/Monday so that’s a clash. I am also hopeless at flower arranging resorting every time to the ‘plonking’ approach so it is a little daunting joining in such a meme.
But I am so pleased with all the spring flowers in the garden that I wanted to bring some in and share them. I have lots of these tiny daffodils flowering, I seem to remember they are Tete a Tete. They were planted in pots last year and when I emptied the pots I spread the bulbs around the garden and they are really rewarding me this year. After the large inherited daffodils they are the first to flower in the garden and are making it glow. The problem though was what to put them in. I have lots of large vases but nothing small and dainty – it’s not really me but I have this small Chinese pot which I bought in my teens and I decided it might just do.
I added some fresh young Aquilegia leaves and a few cyclamen leaves to act as a framework and to support the flowers.
I am quite pleased with the effect and I have put the creation in my bedroom so the fresh spring flowers cheer me each morning.
Next week I hope to find something small enough to show off some of the lovely primulas I have.
For more Monday vases ramble over to Cathy’s
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.
I 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.