Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Bloom and grow (January 2015)

In a recent post, Jane over at Hoe Hoe Grow, wrote about her new Hellebores and her attempt to ensure blooms in the garden all year round.  She is inspired to do so by following the advice from the late great Geoff Hamilton.  He suggests visiting garden centres each month to buy plants that are in flower ensuring you have blooms in your garden all year.  I do hope she doesn't mind me continuing with her theme as I too had set myself a similar task this year.  Not that I need any excuse to visit nurseries and GCs.  This year I intend to focus on specific spots in the garden that could do with a bit of cheering up at certain times of the year.  There are not many gaps but I think there are spots that could do with a bit more planning and at times are just a mass of foliage.  I think the term I'm looking for is what the professionals call Succession Planting.  I intend to do a series of posts throughout the year on what plants I have purchased in bloom and this series will ultimately provide me with a reference point in future years.            

Blooming times of plants will of course be dictated to by weather conditions and will vary year on year.  The records I've been keeping thus far prove that some plants will flower at the same time of year regardless of conditions and others can vary as much as a month or so.

Buying plants in bloom, particularly if they are larger specimens, can of course be quite expensive but we should all be comforted by the fact that the majority of the plants we buy can be successfully propagated in some way and you can have new plants for elsewhere in your garden or to share with family and friends.  At least that's what I tell myself!

Galanthus Spindlestone Surprise
and
Eranthis
We should also be aware that many establishments offer specimens, perennials in particular, that will have been force into growth and flower making them look far more attractive on their shelves.  Take for example my latest purchase.

Having spent the colder nights going over old notes, pictures and ideas, I realised I had forgot to buy some Eranthis bulbs to plant back in Autumn.  The plan was to recreate a small patch of Snowdrops and Winter Aconites in a particular spot in my garden.  I came across this combo on a garden visit last year and until then I would not have given Eranthis garden room. It was love at first sight!  At the time of the garden visit, I had the foresight to purchase some G. Spindlestone Surprise from the owner.  Knowing full well the bulbs would be costly to buy elsewhere.  Yet sourcing the Eranthis slipped my mind.  Popping into my favourite Nursery to see if they would have some pots for sale at some point in the next few weeks - he told me they would not.  He offered me the advice that they are best planted in the green as the bulbs bought in autumn are often allowed to dry out and will not be viable or might prove difficult to establish.  So perhaps fate played a hand there, eh?  I took the small detour on my way home to my next favourite nursery (yes, I have more than one favourite) - this is an establishment that I know has a wide selection of plants that are 'in season' on many of their displays.  Bingo!  I found what I was looking for.  Pots of differing sizes with Eranthis for sale.  In leaf and bud, I instinctively knew that these plants would have been forced, ready for sale.  In the open ground in the garden here, I'd not be expecting to see them blooming until some time in February/March. That said, it didn't stop me from buying them.  Thankfully my christmas vouchers were with me too!

Eranthis cilicica
 

Over the past couple of years it has become a bit of a tradition for me to treat myself a new Hellebore at this time of the year.  This January is no exception.  I've added to my now growing collection of Helleborus x ericsmithii.  I am rather partial to the foliage on these hybrid Hellebores. Full of buds just read to pop, H. x ericsmithii Winter Sunshine caught my eye.  Whilst the buds are varying tones of creams and pinks, the actual flowers are quite a creamy shade.  The leaf stems are almost black, they set off the large leathery leaves beautifully.

Helleborus x ericsmithii Winter Sunshine
Before I made my way to the check-out, I felt a final recce coming on.  Those Christmas vouchers really were burning a hole in my pocket.  Not that there was much left to spend, I had added a new bird feeder to my haul on this trip too.  There was nothing stopping me from keeping the vouchers for a future visit but what would be the fun in that, eh?

Tucked amongst the winter/spring interest shrubs and perennials, small pots of spring bulbs were offered for sale.  Crocus chrysanthus Snow Bunting looked interesting .  I never have much luck in planting Crocus bulbs in Autumn.  It's not that they don't grow, the rarely turn out to be the colour I was promised on the label.  I have the larger Crocus vernus Jeanne d'arc already in the garden but they are later to come into flower and generally their bloom time coincides with the spring rain, the blooms never last long.  The crisp white of Snow Bunting will flower earlier and as with the other Crocus chrysanthus growing in the garden will flower over a much longer period.

Crocus chrysanthus Snow Bunting
The majority of Narcissus growing in the garden are white.  I am not a fan of large yellow daffs although I do have a few yellow dwarf varieties dotted around the garden.  My next purchase is a bit of a compromise, I was completely drawn to the creamy white flowers with the pale yellow centres. The fact that they are scented is an added bonus .  Narcissus Pueblo is according to Sarah Raven's website lovely, sumptuously scented and long flowering.  I look forward to finding this out for myself.

Narcissus Pueblo
At a few pence less than £9 for all 6 tubs, it may be an expensive way to buy bulbs but I don't mind they will provide me with spring blooms for years to come and of course they will multiply too.

Last and certainly not least this trip, I was attracted to the golden, ferny foliage of this Corydalis.  I had never seen one with this colour of foliage before, I knew there and then that it had to come home with me.  Thankfully, Corydalis do well here, they like the conditions my garden offers.  I will, by hook or by crook, find a spot for this wee beauty in one of my shady beds.  It will have scented purple flowers, which I've read are wonderfully fragrant.



Another day out, another Garden Centre, I only popped in on the passing for some bird food.  It was hard to ignore the large display of winter flowering Jasmine just getting ready to flower, there are masses of buds on each stem.  I had long toyed with growing Jasminum nudiflorum over the new arch in the front garden.  It was not top priority and I hadn't really done much research on the plant.  I know very little about it, other than the fact an old neighbour used to grow it over a fence we shared in a previous garden.  Back then I wasn't into gardening and paid no attention to it.  I've seen it featured in a few posts I've read recently.  The temptation was just too much, I brought it home.  Since it's come home I've read it needs a sheltered spot to thrive, my front garden, whilst sunny is certainly not sheltered and I am now having my doubts as to whether or not it's growth habit is suited for growing up the arch, the upright panels of which are rather narrow.  What I'm going to do with it now, goodness only know......watch this space!  I really must work on my habit for impulse buying of plants.

If you'd like to join in with this series of posts, please feel free to pop a link in the comment box.  I'm sure we'd all like to see what you've been buying lately.  I am off to the early spring bulb show on the 21st of February, therefore the next post in this series will be published at some time in the week following that visit.  I suspect I'll be coming home with a couple of new snowdrops.

35 comments:

  1. Love the snowdrop/eranthis combo.. next year!

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    1. It's a beautiful combo isn't it Jessica. Look forward to seeing it in your garden.

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  2. With a small garden like mine, I have to dream through posts like yours. I love snowdrops but don't get anywhere with them in the green or out. I love crocuses but they flower weird and small and thin here. Daffodils - I used to like white daffodils and thought the bright yellow / bright yellow with orange trumpets a bit brash. I've gone brash now and am immensely cheered when their shining un-subtle faces leap up at me. Hellebores - last year I saw two I liked. One was £12 one £16. £16 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I didn't buy them!) I will be having a simple but bright spring this year.

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    1. Hellebores can be expensive, especially some of the new Hybrids. Try some of the GCs late in spring when you can often find them on sale. I found a £16 hellebore with a 50% reduction last year.
      I wonder why you have no luck with the snowdrops. That must be so frustrating. All is not lost though, the fact you have daffs, yellow or otherwise means you have some colour in spring.

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  3. getting the jump on plant purchasing sounds like a fine idea.

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  4. Dear Angie, I really do love your new plant purchases! It is so exciting to get new plants, isn't it? After all these years of gardening it always makes me sooo... happy to bring home a new plant. But back to what you bought: My favorite is the hellebore 'Winter Sunshine'. I think that is an exquisite variety that you have picked. I also like very much the winter aconite, a plant that I believe is not growing here in Southern California. Hope you find a good spot for the jasminum nudiflorum, another plant that I am not familiar with! Wishing you fun planting your new beauties into your garden!
    Christina

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    1. Getting new plants is exciting Christina, I agree. I imagine that most of our spring beauties would struggle in your climate since they cope very well with the wet at this time of the year. Still, you grow many things that I would love to - we can always make do with view them on blogs. Both you and Kris (Late to the Garden Party) grow plants that I can only dream of.

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  5. I can't even imagine having outdoor blooms year-round, although it sounds like a great idea! I guess for those of us with severe winters, we should either aim for blooming potted plants or invest in weekly fresh flowers. Now, that's an idea! ;-)

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    1. Your climate is certainly not conducive to having blooms year round Beth but it does make spring all the more exciting I think.
      Having blooms in winter was never top of my list but the more I get into gardening, the more I want!

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  6. Eranthis are on my must-have list. Really beautiful combined with the snowdrops. I love crocus too but don't buy them anymore because they get ravaged by rabbits.

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    1. I am grateful that I don't have any critters visiting the garden that are partial to bulbs Jason. I have read on numerous blogs the bother that you and others have and I count my blessings in that department.

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  7. I seldom see Eranthis for sale at garden centers here. Such a bright yellow! It's a good idea to check what's in bloom at the nursery once a month, but sometimes they have been forced, and won't bloom in your garden at that same time the next year. I hope you figure out where to put your winter jasmine. I don't remember reading they need a sheltered spot. I have heard from others that they can be quite vigorous.

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    1. Until I brought the WJ home, I was unaware of it's need of a sheltered spot but when I come to think about it, the fence it grew on in my old neighbour's garden was very sheltered and extremely sunny. The fact that it wasn't expensive means I won't fret over it thriving, I'll find a spot and hope for the best!

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  8. I'll be interested to see your additions as they arrive Angie. Since we moved into our current house and I began expanding on the existing garden space, few months have gone by without me buying something (with the possible exception of the hottest summer months when adding even drought tolerant plants here can be a death sentence). I picked up 3 Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Silver Magic' last weekend as the replacement for the giant Yucca we took out along our property line - I'll probably post about that when they're planted (which has proven easier said than done). I also have plants on order that should be delivered this week. Perhaps I'll join in with your February post.

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    1. It would be nice if you joined Kris :)
      I'm in a similar position re buying plants but now the garden is getting more mature I really need to be more considerate about buying plants. I'm sure the bank balance will thank me for it :)
      I am of course looking forward to reading about your Pittosporum, I think they will be worth all the extra effort I'm sure.

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  9. They all seem excellent choices. The Pueblo daffodils look very attractive. I like hellebores and have several but they are not as effective in our cold climate as they are in yours. Here they survive and are just as beautiful but they bloom much later, at a time when many other things are in bloom which steals some of their thunder. They stand out a lot better when they do not have many competitors.

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    1. I thought so too re the daffs Alain. I know what you mean about them flowering later and are out shone by other plants. I have a couple that get too much shade and flower later but they tend to be ignored because other beauties are out and about by then.
      The garden I saw the Snowdrops in was jammed packed with some of the most beautiful Hellebores, they must have been in there for years as the clumps were huge and made a bit impact around the whole garden.

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  10. I did this when I wanted plants for the pebble garden although I didn't visit every month just different times of the year

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    1. Far too many of my plants bought this way are impulse buys but this year I have focus, or so I keep telling myself Sue! Keeping focused will be a challenge!

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  11. You have me persuaded - I have been thinking about visiting a garden centre for a while now. Love the Eranthis/snowdrop combo - I wonder if I can find any? I know just the spot for them.

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    1. I'd be tempted to try one of the larger chains first Annette - do you have a Dobbies up there? I've seen them in the past for sale in the like of B&Q too.
      Enjoy your visit where ever you choose to go and I look forward to reading about those new plants.

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  12. It can be a challenge to design in a way that there's always something to look at. Luckily there are so many robust plants that flower for many months, some even all year round. You're right abou the Eranthis - I've planted so many but only part of them came up. Guess I have to keep adding! Love your new hellebore - the foliage of ericsmithii is so attractive. I envy you for all those fab garden centres and nurseries...no such temptation here.

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    1. I am lucky to have so many GCs and nurseries on my doorstep and there are many within a short drive. Don't be envious though, they are all far too tempting and I do spend too much time in a couple of them!
      I hope you eventually manage to get those Eranthis to thrive in your garden Annette.

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  13. So fun to see what you're up to. Last week, I visited a garden in Washington, DC, with lots of winter jasmine and it reminded me that my garden is sadly lacking.

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    1. I wonder Marian, will you add one to your garden?

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  14. Eranthis look so lovely with snowdrops but they don't seem to like the soil in the woodland where most of my snowdrops are, I wonder why? I have tried them a few times but they never appear again.
    I look forward to seeing your purchases growing in your garden.

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    1. How odd Pauline. Dr Stevens garden (where the picture was taken) is a woodland setting and the snowdrops and eranthis were thriving everywhere. I wonder what the problem with your woodland is.
      I hope mine come back again. I bought a couple of extra pots to try elsewhere too.

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  15. Thanks for the mention and the link Angie ! It will be really good to see what you choose every month - I wonder if we will buy the same plant at any point ? It would make such a good meme, shame I haven't a clue how to set one up! Do you think we will be bankrupt by the end of the year ? It is hard to stop buying when in a nursery...
    I have been researching Aconites today, so your post was very timely. They may be my February purchase ...

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    1. Glad my post was timely for you Jane, will be looking forward to seeing what you buy in February.
      I've no idea how to start a meme either, which was why I invited folks to link and gave them an approx date for my next post. It would be nice if you joined, maybe between us we can get a meme of sorts up and running.

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  16. This is my first visit to your lovely blog, Angie. It's such fun to read that you are shopping for plants in January. My perennial and herb gardens in the Midwest, U.S. are buried under snow. So, I can only plan and dream about my garden at the moment. I'm planning to plant my very first Hellebore in May. Can't wait! ♡

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  17. Sure it's a good choice Angie. You're lucky to buy nice and blooming plants on sale. I thought to do the same, I'd like to find amaryllis on sale too. Love your hellebore, very pretty color!

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  18. Oh you have made some most desirable new purchases Angie. Although the cost of buying larger well established plants can make the purse and it's owner quiver it often makes economic sense. As you suggest you have a ready made source plant material for propagating. In some cases you can even make your new purchases multiply even before planting. I usually include my new purchases in my EOMV but tend to rush through them so if I think on I will join in next next month. Have been relatively restrained so far this year but I'm waiting now for some new snowdrops to arrive :)

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  19. Angie now I understand about the winter aconites in your next post, I'm catching up so reading backwards, what a wonderful haul of lovely plants, if you need help with impulse buying I suggest moving to one of Scotland's islands where there are few or in some case no plant selling shops and due to nurseries using carriers carriage can be extortionet or some just refuse to send to the islands, of course there is at times encouragement to spend more when a mail order nursery offers free carriage if you spend £xxx! don't ask how I know ;) enjoy all your new plants and I look forward to reading these posts though I can't join in as there are just not the shops selling plants much here, Frances

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  20. Winter aconites are wonderful, if you find the right spot for them, they seed around and romp away. They appear in early January in my garden. I love the little Narcissus you bought. I think a meme showing what we have bought each month is a good idea but it would be quite shaming for someone as extravagant as I am. I am a bit reluctant to admit to myself and the whole world quite how lacking in will power I am.

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