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!)
Not such a gorgeous weekend as last weekend which was disappointing given it was the Spring Equinox but fingers crossed Easter will see a change and temperatures will start to improve. The garden certainly appears to be waiting for the green light although the epimediums seem to have decided they have waited too long. I am particularly pleased to discover flowering buds on the majority of the other epimediums; worryingly I seem to have accumulated 13 over the last few years.
I do like spring as you have time to really look and see all sorts of delights emerging rather than being overwhelmed with things to look at as you are in the summer. I would like to claim that the combination of the white hyacinth and phormium (above) was planned. But it was a lucky accident with the lime green on the leaf seems to pick up the same colour at the base of each flower. There are lessons to be learnt here about how plants combine well and that is something I have been reading a lot about recently.
I am reading Andrew Lawson’s The Gardeners Book of Colour which is brilliant. I have read essays and books about colour with the obligatory colour wheel before but none have ever explained colour, tones and saturation as clearly as Andrew does. I haven’t got far through the book but I am already thinking about how colour creates an atmosphere and how I might try to use this in my garden especially given the big rejig that is going on. I am also reading Sarah Raven’s Bold and Beautiful which is also inspiring as I love strong colours but I worry about them looking garish in English light. I am hoping that between the two books I might learn something useful about combining plants and colour and take my bitty garden forward.
In the meantime I have sown the first seeds in the new propagator – Cobea scandens which I have wanted to try for some years. I have pruned the prostrate rosemary that falls over the wall back hard so it looks a little embarrassed showing its legs but I know it will re-shoot like mad. I have also cut back some of the tatty fern foliage from around the garden; it is great to see the new furry fronds ready to emerge as soon as the weather warms up. Peering in the borders I found both Iris danfordiae and iris tuberosa flowering but my photos arent up to standard so I will try again for next weekend. This is the first time both have flowered in the garden so I am hopefully they might establish.
I’ll leave you with what is in my opinion the maddest narcissus
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.
Another lovely weekend and this time a three-day one as I had some time due to me. I started clearing the slope on Friday although the rain stopped play after an hour. I am moving the asters and grasses and a few other bits from the slope to the Big Border. I want to plant up the slope with hardy exotics aiming for a jungley sort of look. I have the overall effect in my head but am still working on the possible plants to include plus we need to cut back the slope to allow for a bench.
Saturday was the monthly HPS meeting. Always a good day and despite my initial reservations when I first joined at spending a whole day of my precious weekend at the meeting I really enjoy it and rarely don’t stay for the whole day. This month’s talk was on cut and come again perennials which was interesting. Our speaker, a local nursery woman, showcases a whole range of perennials which I would never have thought of cutting including solomons seal as well as old favourite such as asters and aquilegia. The morning discussion or show
and tell featured a collection of heritage daffodils, various alpines, a Melianthus major flower and to the amazement of everyone an Aeonium Schwarzkopf in flower – I really should have taken my camera. Needless to say I came home with some plants a veratrum for the woodland border and also two small aeoniums which are destined for the succulent border in the front garden.
Today I was outside at 9 setting to. I started off with finishing off re-potting some alpines, mainly primulas, which I am hoping might be up to showing in the novice section of an Alpine Garden Society over the next month. Then I relocated some plants to the cottage border and also the woodland border which really is beginning to have the right feel about it finally – its only taken 3 years.
The next big job was to finish clearing the plants I wanted from the edge of the slope as we want to push the wall back to make way for the bench. This involved relocated a number of Camassia to the Big Border. Hardly, the ideal time of year to do this but I had to do the same last year but with different Camassia and they did OK. As you can see the Big
Border is filling up and I am hopeful that the image I have in my mind will come to fruition. Aside from the shrubs and a couple of structural perennials such as the
Melianthus the main plants are asters and Calamgrostis overdam which I am hoping will link the Stipa gigantea in to the border. I have spread the Camassia through the border in between the perennials as I read or heard somewhere recently that tall late summer perennials were a good way of hiding the dying Camassia foliage.
Having completed the required plant moving I started to dig out the dry stone wall. I have to admit that I was running out of steam by this time but thankfully my eldest son came to my rescue. Any excuse to wield his pickaxe. The stones making up the wall were soon removed and he has dug quite a way back into the slope ready for the wall to be rebuilt and a seating area made. As we worked I could start to see how the planting on the slope could work to create a good jungley effect. I am going plant buying at the end of the week with some friends to Pan Global Plants and Cotswold Garden Flowers so I think this will give me the opportunity to get the main structural components I want.
Oh and we also moved the sink trough into the succulent border in the front garden but I will save that for the End of Month View post tomorrow.
As dusk falls over my garden the daffodils and primroses are the last flowers to disappear into the gloom.Yellow is one of those colours synonymous with spring. I have often wondered why so many spring flowers are yellow and I think it is to attract the bees and other pollinators. It is certainly a cheery colour. I have daffodils popping up all around the garden. The large trumpet daffs that I inherited with the property are almost past their best and now the smaller varieties that I have added are coming into their own. I think the ones above are Tete a Tete planted a couple of years ago in the woodland border. I am trying much harder to label or learn plant names.
My early primroses have been flowering for a couple of weeks now. This year unusually they have kept their flowers. In previous years I have watched as birds have carefully removed the flower heads for no apparent reason. Now we have a cat this is no longer a problem!
I love this little Epimedium (variety unknown). It is the ultimate dainty flower. I have recently discovered that there are lots of new introductions from Japan with wonderful pink and yellow flowers so I think I will be seeking a few more out.
The scent of hyacinths is quite powerful, maybe too strong for the house but wonderful in the garden on a sunny Spring day. This is the first year for some time that I haven’t had any forced for indoors which I have then planted out in the borders. Whilst, I do like these plants I think my taste is moving towards more dainty Spring flowers.
I do like these muscari althougth the leaves can be a bit leggy and annoying. I am also not to sure about the Christmas Roses which are only just flowering. The flower stems are much shorter than my other hellebores and it is difficult to appreciate the flowers. I am wondering if I move them to one of the raised beds in the woodland area whether they will be displayed better. I have quite a few dotted around the garden so maybe I will bring them together to make more of an impact.
I was pleased to see that my Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’ has started to flower. I bought this plant last year at the Malvern Spring Show and then couldn’t decide where to plant it and have to confess the plant was moved a few times. I think it is in the right place now nestled in the edge of the raised wooden border, peeping over a log.
I will leave you with my favourite hellebore (name unknown). I am really studying these in detail at the moment as this plant is the subject of my latest watercolour painting. It’s not until you really stare at the plants in order to paint them that you start to appreciate the finer details of them.
I would now give you a link to last year’s March GBBD post but I didn’t do one which is a pity so here is the 2010’s post which demonstrates how far ahead we are this year as there were only buds to show in 2010.
For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dreams
One of the things I love about Spring is that you have to really look to spot the little gems emerging from the gloom of winter. In the summer its difficult to know where to look there is so much happening but spring flowers allow you to take more study, focus and admire. When you look closely the flowers are very beautiful often with very intense colours, which are needed to attract the few insects that are around.
On a mooch around the garden this evening just before dusk I noticed this lovely Hyacinth. I know some people really don’t like Hyacinths, particularly their smell. Personally I am indifferent to having them indoors but I do like them in the garden particularly when they are planted in drifts near the back door. I had actually forgotten that I had planted a small drift of these until I spotted them pushing up through the soil. By the end of next week the flowers should be coming into their own and scenting the patio area.