My garden this weekend – 9th March 2014

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Yellow describes this weekend – the sun has shone, the daffodils have bloomed and I have had two happy days gardening. Last weekend having only one day’s good weather I charged around the garden and the same was true yesterday but today, being greeted by a second sunny day the sense of panic gardening eased and I almost managed to potter!

2014_03090013As ever I had a ridiculous list of jobs I wanted to achieve this weekend.  The priorities were pruning the roses and emptying the second compost bin.  The drive for pruning the roses came from a talk last Monday at the local horticultural society  on roses.  The speaker advocated hard pruning at this time of year.  It turns out that despite my smallish garden I have acquired 9 roses, with most of them purchased in the last two years but it still didn’t take long to prune them.  As for the compost bin, as I said in my last post, my compost making is really slap dash.  I bought an extra bin this time last year but it ended up being filled with the turf we lifted to make the Big Border so my plan for being organised failed.  Anyway,  the first bin was emptied about a month ago but the bins were still overflowing and out of hand.  With my eldest son’s help we soon emptied the second bin – it was good to see that only a small layer on top was not composted down.  The contents were put on the Big Border as a thick mulch as you can see above (I must round off that angular corner on the path).

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After this arduous job was completed I spent the rest of the day weeding and tidying the 2014_03090020cottage garden border along the top of the wall.  It was pleasing to see the Delphinium shoots just beginning to nose through the soil.  As I have in past years, I took the opportunity to scatter some pre-emptive slug pellets.  I have found that doing this gives the plants a chance to get good strong shoots above ground and they seem to do well.  At my local HPS group they call this approach The Valentines Day Massacre because shoots often start to appear around Valentines Day!

I know that I planted out some peonies in the Big Border but as yet there are no signs of any emerging shoots.  However, the tree peony which has had a rough ride in recent years since I bought it, is rewarding me for planting it out last spring and feeding it by producing some lovely new shoots. Who knows this year it may flower again like it was when I bought it, I seem to remember it had a beautiful soft yellow flower.

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Today, I started off with a little planting.  First up a Grevillea victoriae in the front garden border to add a little evergreen colour and also hopefully some more of the wonderful exotic grevillea flowers which I love.  Then the last big plant move for a while – moving a large persicaria from near the workshop to the woodland border.  It was a bit of a beast but it is moved and well watered in which means I can start to sort out the area around the workshop soon.

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Next up I brought all the hardy succulents out of the garage where they have over wintered.  I stored them under cover, despite their hardiness, due to the plants being in small pots and I was worried they would freeze if left outside.  The majority of these plants are destined for the border in the front garden under the window along with the aloes etc.  They need a lot of tidying up but I think I will do that when I have decided what is going where.  In the meantime they have had a good water so they should perk up.

2014_03090042I had planned to sow more seeds but instead I decided that I needed to follow my resolution this year to be a better gardener and sort through the cold frames.  They are both full of pots of seeds, some sown a year ago, and seedlings from last year.  Some of the seedlings have died over winter.  I suspect that the compost I potted them up in was too damp which is why all my compost is now under cover.  I have decided I’m not allowed to sow any more seeds until I have sorted both cold frames out – not sure if I will stick to that.  The auriculas grown from seed two years ago were all repotted with fresh compost and last year’s auricula seedlings were also potted up.

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One cold frame has been sorted now and a start on the second.  I am thrilled to see I have peony seedlings from seed sown last year.  Peonies start by putting a root down first so it can be a good year before there is any sign of life above soil – patience is essential.

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The work was rounded off by sweeping up the patio and removing the last of the winter debris and mulching the roses with manure.

A completely satisfying and rewarding weekend – here’s hoping that next weekend will be as good.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2011

Grevillea Canberra Gem
Grevillea Canberra Gem

Here we are at the 15th of the month again and time for Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts.  I was actually surprised when I went out to take photos that there wasn’t quite as much in flower as I thought there would be.  A lot of the late spring flowers are going over and the early summer flowers haven’t come out yet. Though saying that I am sure the Grevillea above is usually in flower earlier than this as it is one of the first plants the bees go mad for whereas this year they have lots to choose from due to everything being ahead of the game.

Aquilegia McKana hybridAquilegia McKana hybridHowever on closer inspection there are a few nice gems around.  The long spurred Aquilegias McKana, which I grew from seed a few years back, where really popular when I was recently visited by a gaggle of bloggers (is that what you call a group of bloggers): ArtistsGarden, Victorias Backyard, Welsh Hills Again, VegPlotting.  They were also very much on display at the Malvern Spring Show which is unusual since they normally flower just after the show.

One of my real favourite flowers in the garden is the Mathiasella Bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ (below).  I love this plant, the flowers are just beautiful and the glaucous foliage is a wonderful foil to many other plants.  Sadly it doesn’t appear to come from seed but I  have been successful with propagating the plant from root cuttings so soon there will be even more in the garden,

It appears that my preference  for strong colours is spreading through the year and is no longer restricted to late summer.  The Sanguisorba below is really brightening up the gravel border and is very popular with the bees.

The Lazula  nivea (below) grown from seed last year has really made an impact on the slope and I am trying to decide whether to extend it. The flowers en masse are quite striking and tulips earlier in the year looked great amongst the foliage but I wonder if I extend it across the border whether it will be too much.

In contrast to the Lazula are the Peonies which are looking very opulent and luxurious at the moment.  I know some people would say that Peonies and grasses don’t work together but I don’t agree – I like the combination.

I do have a dilemma I really like the flowers on my Doronium (below) especially as, again, I grew them from seed but they are the only yellow flowers in the garden at the moment and don’t work well with the jewel colours that are emerging as a theme in this garden.  I am thinking of moving them up to near the Iris siberica as the yellow and blue may work better than the Doronium and Peony which is the current combination!

I love Foxgloves but this year I seem to have dwarf Foxgloves.  I think it is because of the very dry March and April we had which meant that the plants did not have enough moisture to put on some height.

Finally, here is a small delight which I discovered by accident last year – Asarina Procumbens.   I grew it from seed, no surprises there, without really knowing what the plant would look like.  It is quite cute as it crawls across the ground with the snapdragon flowers appearing along the stems.  If you need some ground cover I would recommend it.

So those are the highlights of what is flowering in my garden in May 2011 very different to last May’s GBBD post.

Thanks to  Carol for hosting this monthly meme over at her blog May Dreams Garden

While the cats away….

the plants go mad! I turn my back for less than a week and the garden leaps into action.

I read somewhere recently that when you have been away from your garden for a while the first thing you  should do on your return is to have a good walk around as your absence will have distanced you and you will see your garden in a more detached way.  This way you not only see clearly the things that are really working well but also the things that don’t.

So  on my return from a family holiday today I took this advice and I think it is sort of true.  The Camassia which were in very tight bud when I left are now in full flower and in some cases almost beginning to go over.  It appears that I was miss sold some Camassia bulbs last autumn.  I wanted white Camassia for the bank but they are most definitely blue.  Having said that I think this is actually better than white as the pick up on the bluey/purple Aquilegia which are just coming into flower as well as linking with the Rosemary and working well with the burgundy tulips. So they can stay and I’ll forget the white ones since I have too many white flowers coming into the garden as it is.

I also noticed a loan orange tulip amongst the Jan Reus tulips. I think this is Cairo as I bought some for pots and had a bulb or two left over so stuck them in the border.  Another happy accident as I think the orange works very well with the burgundy so I will be making a note in my notebook to add more Cairo to this area.

The rhododendron is just about the burst into flower – I think it is called Happy.  In front of it are Candelabra Primulas that I grew from seed a couple of years ago.  The color of the flowers almost matches the rhododendron and I think in this instance works really well.  However they are obviously struggling from lack of water as the stems are contorting and the flower heads are not as high as normal.

Another plant that I think might be affected by the heat is the Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum. As you can see from the photo there are several flower heads on my plant already showing colour but last year the flowers were on tall stems.  I am hoping that the stems will shoot up before the flowers open or the effect I wanted will be lost all together.

conversely the leaves on my Arisema speciousum are huge compared with last year.  I have carefully nursed the six plants I grew from seed two years ago and kept them in pots overwintering in the greenhouse but last year the leaves looked dry and unhappy and there were no flowers.  I was desperate for some space in the cold frame a couple of weeks ago and decided that I had nothing to lose from planting them out in the garden.  So I did and it seems to have paid off – the leaves are huge and I am now keeping my fingers crossed for flowers.

The Irises have started to open  but only just so  I haven’t missed them and the Peonies are still a way from opening – again good news.  I have spotted a number of plants that need moving as they are crowding others so will deal with these over the long weekend as well as giving those that need it a really good water. Plus work is starting on a new border that I have been busy buying plants for – but more of that another time!