Flowering in my garden today

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Spring has definitely sprung!

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Let it snow!

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The garden has been under a blanket of snow this week until the rain arrived last night with a vengeance and turned it into a muddy bog.

Earlier this week, Raewyn and I decided to enjoy a snowy day out at Dunham Massey to see the Winter Garden. Although still very early, there was lots to see, including the fascinating bare twisted branches of the corkscrew hazel and the delicate spidery flowers of the Hamamelis. It is plain to see that the snowdrops are going to be quite spectacular given another week or so. Sparkling chunks of ice cling to the junctions of the branches of shrubs, dripping in the winter sunshine like a remnant from Christmas. Groups of brilliant white silver birch trees shine out against the clear blue sky, made even more startling by the backdrop of the dark brown of the other bare trees and shrubs .

Today has been such a gorgeous, sunny day and after my second visit to Dunham Massey this week, I finally got around to planting the fig tree. It now resides in a big pot with plenty of crocks in the bottom, positioned in the sunniest place in the garden; against the back fence. Fingers crossed for figs!

Whilst wandering round the garden (which takes all of 30 seconds!) I noticed little clumps of snowdrops but not half as many as I remember planting. Maybe, like Dunham Massey, there will be a few more in the weeks to come. Thank goodness for hellebores. The old faithful is flowering away and the three ‘Double Ellen’ that just produced leaves last year are also bursting into life.

It was exactly one year ago that the Cornus Sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and Cornus Alba Sibiricia were planted. Today, they have been pruned almost to ground level to encourage lots more colourful branches. I am a little concerned that I have left it a bit late as both already had breaking buds.

This is a great time of year for bargains at the garden centres and I took advantage to purchase some 1/2 price Boxus to replace one that has died at the end of the row.

The days are already getting longer but I must remember that it is only January and not get carried away with my enthusiasm for planting.

Spring is in the air

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What a strange month February has been. It started off with freezing night time temperatures, down to -10 and not getting much further than 1 or 2 degrees in the day. Towards the end of the month we had some lovely sunny days where we could dare to venture out in the flimsiest of clothes with the temperature hitting 17 or 18 degrees, only to plummet the following day back to 9 or 10.

A new arrival of snowdrops could only sit forlornly on the windowsill while the soil remained stubbornly frozen outside.

Some parts of the country are threatened with drought while, here in the north west, we continue to be blessed with persistent precipitation!

However, that hasn’t prevented quite a fruitful month’s garden activities and now we are at the beginning of March, the future can only be bright.

The snowdrops were eventually planted and didn’t seem to suffer too much from their ordeal. The daffodils are in full bloom now, I really must plant some more for next year. The tulips are making an appearance, tentatively daring to poke their pointed leaves out of the gravel of the pots. My lovely hellebore has been flowering for weeks although the new ones I planted last year have only leaves. There are encouraging signs off life all over the garden with sedum, phlox and even eryngium emerging. It is so exciting when they appear as if by magic after their disappearing act over the winter.

Last weekend was spent sorting through envelopes and packets of seeds to organise what should be planted and when. My utility room quickly turned into a plant nursery with trays and pots delicately draped in polythene and the promise of new plants. My big problem is the number of seeds in a packet. Surely no-one needs 250 Zaluzianskya Capensis (Night Phlox), but despite my best efforts to only plant a few, they were so fiddly I ended up just scattering the whole lot! I also planted 30 Gaura Lindheimeri which I didn’t mind at all because a garden can never have too much gaura! I also planted some seeds that I collected myself last year including sweet peas and candy stripe phlox. Imagine my pleasure when, less than a week later, they had both germinated. Now someone more knowledgeable and experienced than myself will probably tell me that these spindly specimens will amount to nothing but disappointment but, for now, I am immensely pleased that they have germinated at all. Also adorning my new plant nursery are Trollius Europaeus (which I may have to put in the fridge at some point) and one of my absolute favourites, verbena bonariensis. Who could resist 10 Echinacea seeds called “Pow Wow Wild Berry”? However, after lovingly planting them in pots, I re-read the packet to find that I should have surface planted them. Oh well, there’s no way I was going to find them again so I am hoping that they still manage to survive in spite of me.

I have found another gardening buddy at work, Gill. These buddies come in very handy and Gill had just planted some onion sets and decided she had too many so she gifted some to me including some red ones. They now occupy half of my large raised veg bed which are under cover at present.

This year’s major garden project also got under way with the erection of my new garden archway.

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Plants, plants, plants!

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I’m going to have to stop buying plants, I’m running out of garden and Steve won’t let me have any more lawn!

This has been a really busy week in the garden, not least because of the almost daily delivery of plants I forgot I’d ordered. They’re always so disappointing when ordered online. The pictures look lush and beautiful but what arrives is just a bunch of roots or a leafless twig. I know they will grow into the lush and beautiful (if I’m lucky) and I suppose that’s the exciting part.

I had another grow house disaster. Hundreds of Cosmos seedlings were upturned when a strong gust blew it over again. I don’t know why I didn’t secure it after last time when all my autumn cuttings suffered the same fate. However, undeterred, and determined not to lose a single one, I set about carefully gathering them up and repotting. It seems to have paid off as some of them now have two pairs of leaves. The offending grow house has now been secured to the fence.

I refuse to plant the 100 gladioli bulbs so generously provided free with my online orders of plants. I just don’t like them and I can’t be bothered with all that staking. I have had glads before and they spent their lives lying horizontal across the lawn before I eventually got round to removing them. Does anyone want 100 gladioli?

The Magnolia Stellata arrived and has been planted in the pot to replace the dead rose. It doesn’t look like a Magnolia, it’s just a couple of twigs with a few leaves.

This week has also seen the planting of 3 helleborus orientalis and 1 Queen of Night, 3 penisetum alopecuroides beneath the silver birch and 12 pulmonaria – 3 each of Majeste, Blue Ensign, Rubra and Opal.

Two paeonies went from pot to ground but ‘Shirley Temple’ is still in the pot until it is bigger; I didn’t think it was going to grow at all.

The dahlias are still in pots but most are showing signs of life. The black one, which has been my pride and joy for the past two years is sadly not producing any leaves at present.

A couple of Amaranthus seedlings have magically appeared in the conservatory trays but still no sign of nicotiana or sweet peas.

Second cabbage crop is doing well in seed tray, I won’t be so quick to transplant this time as I killed a couple of the first lot. Still no sign of celery.

I dug up a few feet of border in the front garden that the postman uses as a short cut through to next door. Here I have planted 100 anenomes. Now I have to find a way to deter the postman from trampling them.

A trip to the nursery with Raewyn saw two more additions: Dicentra Spectabilis and Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’

 I love this candy stripe phlox nestling among the rocks. It was quite puny when I planted it last year but it is really making itself at home now. I know I’m going to regret planting these cornflowers because of the way they seed themselves but they are pretty.

March 2011

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Still cool with sporadic frosty nights. Some sunny days and plenty of wet ones.

5th March:
Daffs on the verge of bursting open.

Planted peas and 6 more cabbages (no sign of previous ones germinating yet). Trying successional growing so that everything doesn’t grow at the same time, have a feeling they will all grow at the same time anyway.

Potted up dahlias and put them in the grow house. Might be too early but they had little thready roots.

Planted paeonies in pots – Shirley Temple, Sarah Bernhardt and Karl Rosenfield.

9th March:
Snowdrops arrived and planted.

Ordered Redlove apple tree.

2 tiny cabbage shoots have appeared.

12th March:
Can see signs of blossom on apple tree.

 

Daffodils and hellebore in full glory although some daffs have still to flower.

Blueberries are springing into life

Not sure if the standard fuschia will come back

I love this corkscrew grass in the Chelsea border

This tiny eryngium is braving an appearance

Giant alium leaves making good progress

Kestrel potatoes still chitting in conservatory

Hollyhocks making an appearance

Onions under cover

Raspberries have proper leaves on now

This rhododendron has been in the garden since we moved in 20 years ago

Planted 2 rows of Boltardy Beetroot.

Now have 3 cabbage seedlings

Emptied potato sacks at tip ready for washing out and replanting at end of month.

Rearranged and fed red climbing rose. Cut down phormium, don’t know if they will come back.

13th March:
Raewyn gave me some iris bulbs which have been planted.

4 cabbage seedlings.

February 2011

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Much warmer, some days in to double figures!

8th February:
More signs of life every day, daffs seem to have grown overnight. Giant aliums pushing through and tiny specks of green on raspberry canes.

Put second and larger of the covers on raised bed. This went on much easier than the smaller one.

Planted box hedge around patio, could have done with a few more plants though.

 13th February:
Tulips have appeared and daffs continue to grow. Little green shoots are sprouting from the onions.

Ordered 6 more box to complete hedge. Bought 375 litres of compost for £9 – bargain!

Threw all cuttings away except for a few. I suspect they had too traumatic a time! When I re-potted after the wind they had developed a good root system but I think the frost was just too severe. Maybe I should have brought them indoors.

14th February:
New box plants delivered and planted immediately. Ground very wet and sloppy though, not sure they are going to like it.

17th February:
Planted dwarf lavendar. Filled up carrot bag and planted 6 cabbages in modules and placed under the cover of raised bed.

24th February:
What a magical time in the garden. Every day brings a new revelation. One sunny day makes all the difference. Daffs and tulips continue to grow. Hellebore is bursting into flower, the first ones in the garden. Fresh green leaves of aconitum and geranium emerging as well as phlox and aquilegia. Buds appearing on apple tree, sambucus and camellia.

Planted leeks and 4 tomato seeds under cover.

Ordered some snowdrops “in the green”.

28th February:
Ordered Pyloria and free Paeonies.

April 2010

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April saw the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano. Air travel was severely disrupted as the ash was blowing across the UK in the upper atmosphere.

Daffodils and flowering quince were in full glory.

Planted:

  • 3 strawberry plants (Elsanta) in a hanging basket.
  • Onions in veg bag
  • 9 carrot seeds and 6 beetroots

Ok, so I didn’t understand the business of sowing and thinning seeds. I did sow more when I realised!

Planted Hellebore and Camellia and put Phlox and Lillies in pots until I decided where to put them.

The patio received its annual jet-wash and was sealed to protect against further staining from algae – we’ll see.