My Garden This Weekend – 6/12/15

Hellebore Anna's Red

Hellebore Anna’s Red

I hate to say I have had a good gardening weekend when so many people are coping with floods or howling gales,  but I have.  At this time of year I think we are grateful for any time we can steal to get outside and work in the garden so I was thrilled to steal about 3 hours over the two days this weekend.


I have spent most of the time picking up leaves, weeding, and cutting back perennial flowers.  I’m not a great one for leaving lots of winter debris as I believe this provides homes for slugs and snails and I think when you garden a space extensively you need to try to maintain good garden practice.  I tend to start the Autumn/Winter tidy up with those areas that are heavily planted with spring bulbs so that I don’t damage emerging shoots.  I’m a little behind due to the recent wet weekends so was really pleased to tidy areas such as the Asiatic Fern border, which I look at when I wash up.    There aren’t many bulbs here as it is constantly moist throughout the year but as the ferns are wintergreen and this is their real season of interest I want them to look their best.  I spent quite a bit of time removing the ever invasive Soleirolia soleirolii (Mind Your Own Business) which normally carpets this border and wondering what possessed me to plant it in the first place.


There are more ferns on the slope.  Different ferns which like a bit of better drainage.  This border is also full of spring bulbs so it was delightful to clear away the debris of the fallen leaves and spot shoots pushing through the soil.  As you can see, if you look carefully, there are some random self-sown plants appearing.  I think the grey leaves at the top of the border is some form of thistle and I am inclined to leave it to see what it does.  I have also found a Geranium palmatum seedling which is good as I love that geranium but I am wondering what the border will look like in the summer with its mad big pink flowers everywhere – I can always move it if need be though.


Tidying up revealed that the Crocus speciosus had been flowering but for some reason not well.  Some of the plants have long lax stems, some of the flowers haven’t formed properly barely covering the stamens and some flowers have been eaten.  I can understand the cause of the latter but I don’t understand the first two problems.  The crocus are meant to flower in late September/October, roughly when I planted the corms.  I wonder if the mild wet weather have confused the crocus causing the lengthening and weakening of the stems.  Whilst some were covered in leaves which might add to the problem, there are just as many growing in this way where the leaves were removed a while ago.  Hopefully next Autumn they will flower better and create the lilac haze I was hoping for alongside the top steps.


Clearing the leaves also allows you to discover all sorts of delights.  As I posted last time I discovered the first snowdrop of the year yesterday, I suspect it might be Mrs McNamara.  Today I spotted another one with the first signs of a flower forming, this time I know it is Galanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’ as the label is still there.  It appears that this snowdrop often flowers around Christmas so I think it is on track to do that.

Also found where the fat buds of Hellaborus niger; an extra flower stem this year so I think it is safe to say that this plant is well and truly established now although it has taken many years to achieve this.  I also spotted that some of the other hellebores were already budding up to the point that I removed the leaves from Hellebore Anna’s Red and one other.  I am waiting for the buds on the other hellebores to be a little bigger before I remove the leaves.  And then there are the Epimediums to think about – I need to work out which I should remove the leaves on and which not, oh dear….

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – January 2015

Hellebore niger

Hellebore niger

Another year and the first Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post of 2015 and I am pleased that I have quite a few blooms to share although you really have to hunt around the garden to find them.  Although I think that is what makes them all the more welcome, they make you get out into the garden and spend time peering into borders.

First up is the Christmas Rose which is slowly but surely increasing year on year.  I understand from other gardeners I know that it can be hard to establish, mine is thriving on neglect planted between a box and rhododendron so I think it is fairly dry.  There are 3 or 4 blooms appearing this year which is an increase on last year.  For some reason my plant seems to open with its flowers almost open flat on the ground and they then slowly lift their heads as the days pass.  I’m sure others I have seen are more upright.

Galanthus Ding Dong

Galanthus Ding Dong

Unknown Galanthus

Unknown Galanthus

The first of my special snowdrops are opening.  I’m ashamed to say that I have lost the label for the second one despite only buying it last year.  It isn’t quite open but I am hoping when it does that some of my galanthophile friends might help me out.

Iris unguicularis 'Water Butt'

Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ has produced its second flower which is one more than last year so hopefully it will go on from strength to strength now.

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As per last month the primroses continue to flower in the generally mild weather we have had to date this winter.  The top one is only small but it is a real beacon which I can see from the house and cheers me up no end.

Eranthis hyemalis

Eranthis hyemalis

I have to include Eranthis as I love them more than snowdrops and they are just beginning to establish in the garden.  These photographs were taken at the weekend as it is dark when I leave for work and get home so I am hoping when I get out side this weekend the flowers will be open.

Viola cornuta

Viola cornuta

The viola cornutas that I deadheaded extensively just after Christmas have rewarded me with another flush of flowers.  I am planning to get some more of these in different colours as I think they are really good fillers

unnamed narcissus bulbicodium

unnamed narcissus bulbicodium

In the greenhouse the Narcissus bulbicodium are beginning to flower but sadly I am really struggling to photograph them to show them at their best.

Narcissus bulbicodium 'Lemon Flare

Narcissus bulbicodium ‘Lemon Flare

There are also the same cyclamen flowering as last month – they almost seem to be frozen in time along with the Viburnum which is also still flowering.  Hellebores and Camellias are about to open so it will be interesting to see what is still around for next month’s post.

For more Garden Blogger Bloom posts visit Carol at May Dream Gardens

My garden this weekend – 15/12/13

Hellebore niger

Hellebore niger

Perversely I like this time of year in the garden.  Every half hour stolen seems like a bonus and a treat.  For a change I have actually done all the jobs I need to do for the winter and so everything I do now is a bonus. The weather is mild, although a little damp, and it is a relief to get outside for a bit of fresh air and exercise.

Saturday saw me finally finishing mulching the front garden with chipped bark.  I didn’t think I would get a chance to do this before the ground froze but somebody was on my side and hopefully the mulch will help with locking in the moisture and keeping the weeds down.

I also removed the leaves from the majority of the hellebores.  I have done this for a few years now but I can’t remember the logic for it any more and I find myself wondering whether indeed it is the best thing to do; something to research.  I was pleased to see emerging buds on all the plants including those I bought earlier this year from Ashwoods but I was especially pleased to see two buds on the Hellebore niger which I have been struggling to establish for a few years.


Although the forecast for the next week indicates that the temperatures aren’t going to drop much lower I decided today to use the time to put a little more protection around my borderline hardy plants.  Last year I covered the crowns of the three Melianthus major with straw and they came through the winter fine, although of course it wasn’t as hard a winter as we had in the two years previously.  As I had some straw left over I have done the same again this year and also protected the Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ which has thrived in the Big Border and the three Watsonias which I am risking in the border as they are just too big for the greenhouse now.

2013_12150030I was reading back through my garden diary last night.  It was satisfying to see that some of the things I planned to do this time last year have been achieved but it was also amusing to see how my son’s woodworking hobby and the need to house it thwarted at least two projects; at one point I think we were on Plan R! On the plus side it meant I had to get on and dig up the lawn which I had been procrastinating about for a while.  I am still thinking about a focus for the Big Border but my instinct is to go Cottage Garden style but with a mid-late summer focus.


The last area that really needs a winter clean-up is the sunny end of the slope.  This area has seen the most upheaval this year due to the workshop going in.  All my Asters from the slope have been shoe-horned, along with other late summer perennials, into a tiny space about a third of the area they were in before.  I really don’t feel that the way I planted them, admittedly in haste, has shown them to their best so I am thinking that I may clear the slope and relocate the plants into the Big Border.  I also need to finish staining the fences and the workshop but we are still waiting for the green wood to dry out completely – the glass in two of the paves has cracked due to the sides of the workshop shifting as it dries.  The work never really ends does it.

Meanwhile in all the border there are signs of bulbs pushing their noses through the soil which makes me feel that Spring really isn’t that far away.