February is really becoming hellebore time in my garden although unusually I haven’t added to the collection yet this year although I am sure there is still time. Above is a selection of some of those that are looking good this week. Interestingly the colours don’t seem as strong this year with Anna’s Red looking no darker than my long-established dark pink hellebore and the yellows seem very pale.
I need to relocate some of the hellebores so the flowers are easier to see and I don’t have to step into border to take photos.
I do like the yellows so I might see about adding to these instead of more purple and pinks.
Crocus tommasinianus are beginning to spread under the Field Maple which is very satisfying. Sadly this year with the seemingly endless overcast days it is rare that the flowers are actually open so I was lucky to catch these crocus open the other day.
I’m also really pleased to find some hepaticas flowering this year. I planted two groups last year in opposite sides of the garden to try to work out what was the right environment for them. It seems that the more shady damper area is preferred to the dry shade area so I will relocate the hepaticas from the less desirable spot.
The snowdrops are also slowly but surely spreading around the garden and are beginning to form a white haze on the back slope.
I have a growing number of named varieties in the garden, acquiring a few more each year. I think this is one I got some years ago but I have lost the label so I have no idea what it is but the flowers seem larger than Galanthus nivalis, in particular the outer petals are longer. I will have to see if I can find a record on this blog or in my label box of what it might be.
The last of my favourites this week is this unknown camellia which although quite a small shrub is smothered in bloom, luckily we have not had many frosts so the flowers haven’t gone brown.
Also flowering in the garden are pulmonaria, cyclamen, witch hazel, and slowly but surely the various narcissus. This is Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’.For more February blooms from around the world visit Carol at May Dream Gardens and check out the links.
I thought I would do an End of Year View post instead of an End of Month post so I could see how areas had changed through the year. Starting with the view up the steps to the shed I am pleased with how the border along the steps has filled out. At the start of the year there was a Stiga gigantea here but it was a sad specimen and taking up a lot of space. Removing it last January freed up a lot of space which I have filled with agapanthus, peony and a range of bulbs which need sun and sharp drainage. But I wanted some waftiness up the stairs so late in the year I added some Stipa tenuissima.
The start of the bottom path is one of my favourite places to sit and ponder. I always think that the photos along here never show it off well but there you go. I want to try to beef up the planting along here, bring in more colour through the year but especially in late summer.
The bottom part of the woodland border looked really good in early Summer but it needs to be improved in Spring especially given that Spring is meant to be the season of interest for shady areas. This being so I have added lots of narcissus bulbs and I am hoping that next Spring my hard work will be rewarded.
The top of the woodland border has progressed slowly this year; I have to be patient and let plants establish and fill out. Again I have added narcissus in here and there are signs of them coming through.
The final view I am including is along the grass path. I started the year umming and arhing about whether to replace the grass with something else but I think the grass is a nice counterfoil to the plants and my cat likes it so …. I want to improve the planting at the start of the path and have started to do this with the addition of Anemanthele lessoniana and repeated it with one towards the end of the path. I think it draws the eye but also starts to soft the edges.
So that was 2015 in my garden. I haven’t decided what view will be the focus of the End of Month View in 2016, it needs to be somewhere that photographs well which isn’t the case with much of my garden due to its smallness and the angles needed.
It has been great that so many of you have joined in with the End of Month View meme in 2015 and I really hope that you have found it useful. I do hope that you will join in again in 2016 and all I ask is that you leave a link to your posts in the comment box of my post for the relevant month and include a link back to my post in your post. That way we can all connect.
I have a bit of a bug-bear on the way suburban gardens are represented in garden media. If you pick up any selection of gardening magazines you will find the usual selection of large country gardens and small chic city gardens, often courtyards, or community gardens, or people growing vegetables in small spaces – which are loosely termed urban gardens. These are not suburban gardens. I live in suburbia and I do not recognise them as gardens I am likely to encounter in this environment. This month’s RHS The Garden magazine has the theme of urban gardens. I muttered on Twitter about suburban gardens never being featured in magazines and I was told by the editor of the magazine that the rules are the same for urban and suburban – really?
I suppose you could argue that suburban gardens are small and therefore the same rules apply but this does not take into account that suburban gardens do not generally benefit from the micro-climates you get in cities; they don’t have the same levels of noise and other pollution; they are often more open gardens which means they can suffer from wind damage and other extremes of weather; they often have large front gardens which they might not be allowed to have fences or hedges around; they can be all manner of strange shapes due to the idiosyncrasies of the housing development planners. They have their own set of issues and their own benefits. So No the same rules do not apply.
A large part of suburbia is made up of housing estates, such as the one I live in. They do not feel the same as walking down any road in a city even in the residential areas on the outskirts. Houses on older estates often have good size front gardens with the driveway to one side – when do you ever see an article in a magazine looking at these. These front gardens, like mine, are like the front room my grandparents had, areas which are kept nice but never used. Gardens can be a myriad of shapes – yes many are long and thin like urban gardens, but you have wide and short gardens (like mine), or triangular plots or even strange irregular pentagon shaped gardens and there are never articles on how to address such shapes. Or maybe the garden wraps around the house if you have a nice generous corner plot, again nothing. And then there is the sloping garden which hasn’t been ironed out by the town and city planners and when do you ever see any sensible practical advice on dealing with a slope without spending vast sums on hard landscape, contractors and designers – if we had that sort of money we would probably be living in the countryside and be interested in different articles!
And that brings me to another difference between suburban and the urban and country gardens that are featured in the garden media – funds. Time and again you read an article about a country garden and you read about the acreage, a small garden is an acre, and how the owner works with the gardener to create this or that, and how they removed the woodland or extended into the neighbouring fields etc etc etc. Or how this urban garden was created with the help of this designer or that designer or the other extreme how this community or gardener created everything out of nothing – there is apparently no middle ground in the urban garden.
What about the suburban garden? How many of them have been designed by a designer or are maintained by a regular gardener pretty few I suspect. They are the expression of many people who are passionate about plants, or love their gardens, who draw inspiration from the urban gardens and country acres they see featured and maybe visit and then create their very own special mix and match style of garden but do they ever see anything they can relate directly to in the media – rarely.
I wondered if it is because suburban gardens aren’t visited much and therefore the great ones aren’t known about. I sense that they are under-represented in schemes such as the NGS as the owners may think that they cannot meet the 45 minutes of interest criteria. I notice that many garden magazines seem to rely on the NGS guide for gardens to feature which is a pity as it means the diversity and excitement that is out there in the whole gardening world is missed.
And that is what the garden media world hasn’t noticed, suburban garden are equally as interesting and fascinating as their alternatives. We might not be creating wacky gardens on rooftops or growing vegetables in strange pots down an alleyway or lounging of an evening around a fire pit in our designed outside room. We might not be creating a border for a specific season, or a wildflower meadow where the tennis court was, or planting an orchard. We are however, taking the best of all of these, distilling them into key elements and we are quietly working away creating beautiful spaces and growing amazing plants.
Surely it is about time that the suburban garden was given as much print and air time as other gardens instead of this passionate suburban gardener flicking through a magazine and not finding anything to relate to.