Friday, 26 February 2016

My February Round Up

February has been a real mixed bag in so far as the weather is concerned.  Right now, although cold it is dry.  What a refreshing change that is I tell you.  I know from reading everyone's posts that I was not the only one totally fed up with the wind and rain.   Winter just isn't winter without cold and frosty mornings, or like today, frozen ground all day.  The garden benefits from having frosts such as these, it should in theory finish off any pests that may be lingering.

The first casualty I have noticed this winter and in real terms extremely minor is the damage done to my baby birch tree.  It may have been a mere twig but it was full of potential.  I have decided to make my Birch tree the subject of my Tree Following posts.  You can read the first in this year's series here if missed it.  Two more noticeable casualties are two of the 'special snowdrops' I planted in the green last spring.  2 losses out of 10 isn't too disheartening, is it?  I turned out the aquatic pots they were growing in and it seems the bulbs have totally rotted away.  The only proof left was the sunken plant labels!

Due to family commitments I was unable to attend the early bulb show in Dunblane..  My, what is now an annual pilgrimage, had to be put off.  However, I treated myself to buying a few in the green online. Whilst I probably saved myself a few pounds I was not able to source some from my wish list.  There's always next year, right? One of my new drops. Galanthus Homersfield. Said to be a robust snowdrop and supposed to do well in heavier soils.  All my new bulbs are now potted up and waiting to find homes in the ground when it thaws out a bit.       

The sickly looking Leucothoe (L. fontanesiana Whitewater) has has a good mulch with some ericaceous compost in a bid to give the soil a bit of a boost.   I mentioned last month that I suspect it may be the wet weather causing the chlorosis.  When it has finished flowering I will give it a liquid feed and molly coddle it this year.  I have read since that the cold can also induce chlorisis and in particular to some acid loving plants but since it had been quite mild in the lead up to me spotting it, I have ruled it out as the cause.

Leucothoe fontanesiana Whitewater
Emerging Aconitum foliage
New growth on the group 3 Clematis was quite rampant.  I decided to prune a bit earlier than I normally would.  I fear I may have been a tad too hasty.  I got carried away in a fit of excitement on one of the warmer days we had.  I immediately regretted my decision to do this.  I thought it best to put the secateurs away and leave anything else, particularly the Epimediums, until March. One job I did manage to cross of my February to do list was to get the plant supports in place for those plants that make their appearance early in the year. This is one of those jobs that no matter what the weather I make time to do it.  It saves a whole lot of hassle when the plants get going.  I paid passing attention to the fact that although many of the perennials are showing new growth early due to the mild weather the peonies were not.

I don't know about you but I find that weeding when the soil is moist far easier and I can make great inroads with getting on top of those pesky weeds.  I note too that I seem to have far more nettle
seedlings than I would normally find around the garden.  Good too find them now though before they get out of control.  I made great progress on the ever evolving woodland area.  As well as weeding it has been mulched.  I am hoping to replenish some of the goodness lost from the soil due to the winter flooding.  The snowdrops, clumps of both singles and doubles are bulking up nicely.  I will divide more of the larger clumps growing elsewhere around the garden and add more in this spot over the coming weeks.  The Hellebore blooming in there right now is being obscured by the box ball at the front of the border.  I need to either clip it smaller or remove altogether to make the most of that hellebore I think.                
The evolving woodland

My New Year's Resolution has fallen by the way side.  Just as some of you predicted.  Two months on from resolving not to fiddle around with plants nor buy any more for a while that particular resolution has been broken.  Just please don't say you told me so! This latest project is just a small one and I suppose in some way I am not really fiddling around completely.  Just removing one particular plant at the moment.

The small border by the side of the kitchen extension has gone through many changes in previous years.  Year before last I planted a hardy Fuchsia (F. magellanica Alba) and although it performed well it never really did suit this spot.  Its sprawling growth made it awkward to manoeuvre past it.  I was looking for alternatives.   I needed something with a bit of height to it, narrow and probably something a bit slower growing than the Fuchsia.  Christmas and Birthday vouchers came in handy.
Newly planted Amelanchier alnifolia Obelisk and Helleborus orientalis Anna's Red
Described as a very versatile and unproblematic tree for smaller gardens I am hoping Amelanchier alnifolia Obelisk will be far more suitable than the previous incumbent.  This fastigiate tree/shrub - I am confused as to whether this is actually a tree or a shrub, not that it matters.  It should be a long, long time before it's width becomes a problem.  A new Hellebore, H. orientalis Anna's Red fills the gap between the Sarcococca. There are some bulbs in here but I need to wait until they are up and about before I decide just what to do with them.  Laziness in the past has got the better of me and I can't recall exactly what they are.  There is also a small clump of Colchicum agrippinum that I don't want to risk by moving it too early.  I am also toying with the idea of growing some Scottish bred/discovered snowdrops in this area.  As is usual this notion popped into my head after I had made this year's purchase of new drops.  In true Angie style!

Blooms in the garden right now are pretty much the same as they were when I posted my bloom day post except the Hellebores are just now lifting their heads and beginning to add their own brand of winter cheer.
Helleborus x ericsmithii Winter Moonbeam 
Helleborus x sternii White Beauty with G. Wendy's Gold
Can you spot the Eranthis beginning to emerge at the base of the birch?  Looking to the future I am hoping for a cloth of white and yellow around the base of it's trunk.  I can see this particular spot from the back door and the Hellebore really does stand out.  The hardiness of this particular variety is dubious but given that it has survived here for 3 winters is a positive.

More Crocus too are getting in on the act too.  I like the colour markings on this particular bulb.
Crocus sieberi Spring Beauty
Special Snowdrops.


Iris blooms seem everlasting this year.

                        
I am patiently waiting the reappearance of the Erythroniums I planted last year.  There is as yet no sign of them coming up.  I will be gutted if I have failed in choosing the perfect spot for them.  I thought I had done enough research.  Jobs to be getting on with over the next month primarily will be to carrying on with the spring clean up and weeding.  My lawns desperately need mowing but that chore job is obviously weather dependent.  I will give the roses their prune, already some of them have a fair amount of growth.  Dahlias and Begonia tubers will be potted up and the Cosmos tubers I put away for winter will be brought out.  It will be interesting to see if my attempt at over wintering those is successful.  I hope so.

In the shed last week I realised that I have way too many redundant containers in many different shapes and sizes.  When I say redundant what I really mean is that they were plonked in there and forgotten about.  I am going to make an effort and try to put together some pretty summer displays.  Already I have began collecting some plugs and bulbs.  For the first time I am having a go at Petunias.  The novelty of Petunia Phantom caught my eye.  I have the perfect black pot for them too.  I don't want to overwhelm my windowsills so it will probably be more practical to wait before I decide what else to grow.

My jobs in the garden this weekend will be to tidy up and prepare a spot for the new snowdrops. Check over and tie in the Honeysuckles.  Already they are covered in bursting buds.  Check the tree supports.  Loosen the ties if need be.  I could probably removed the hawthorn and rowan support altogether.  They've been in for 2 years now.  If I get round to it, edge the lawns, that should at least make them look tidier.  Oh, and I almost forgot I need to repair a section of trellising on the front garden fence.  It came down in one of the storms and needs refixing to it's support.

Do you have plans for the garden this weekend?   What ever you are up to I hope it's a good one. Thanks for reading.                  

23 comments:

  1. Hi Angie, It is always good to read your garden roundups as you are a week or so ahead of myself. I don't think I will be gardening this weekend unless the weather changes dramatically. The ground is still frozen here. I might start to remove last years seed heads and stalks though if it is warm enough. I agree the iris reticulata are lasting for ages this year. I have a little pot that has been going for weeks, but most of mine are not even open yet. I think everything is really late this year. I didn't think my winter aconites were coming through at all, but I have just seen the first sign of some foliage just emerging.
    I will watch with interest how your Amelanchier grows. I have been considering one for a bit of grass outside our kitchen window. It was a tree that our tree surgeon recommended to us. Your Hellebores are looking wonderful.

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    1. Thanks Annette. I hope your weather was a bit more favourable today. It has been nice here but I did not manage to get out into the garden. Tomorrow will hopefully be better for it although I haven't yet checked the forecast.
      My local nursery also recommended this tree when I was looking to buy something for that spot. I have found many positive comments about it online too. I will try to keep you updated on it as the year goes on.

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  2. Your woodland area is looking great. What a brilliant idea to put those stepping stones in there, it must have made a huge difference given the soggy soil. I've tried to get out on the bank today but it's still too wet. Hopefully tomorrow. It needs to be because the End of Month view is coming.. and more rain!

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    1. Yes, those stepping stones were a necessity really Jessica and what a heck of a difference they have made. I can thoroughly recommend doing it if you find similar issues, although probably not practical on your bank.
      Yes, end of month view and I haven't even touched those areas yet!

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  3. I so enjoyed reading your garden roundup and your hellebores and snowdrops are beautiful. It's still cold here and the ground was frozen this morning so no garden work got done today. When the sun has been shining, we've had a few good days recently, I've got out and tidied up around the beds. My husband has repaired the edging to the shrub border and mulched with a layer of gravel. The annual bed has been mulched with bark to keep down the weeds. At the weekend my plan is to cut back the mint that grows under the kitchen window, and generally do some more tidying and weeding - the mild winter means weeds have just kept on growing. Fingers crossed it doesn't rain.

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    1. Good to read you are getting out into the garden some days Elizabeth. I think the term little and often seems to suit my style of gardening so far this year.
      I hope the rain stayed off to allow you to get those jobs done.

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  4. Angie the evolving woodland islooking so nice and neat, the white beauty hellebore is beautiful, it is named appropriately, your bulbs all look nice too, it is a pity about your losses, I hope you have a gardening weekend weather, I doubt if the north will, Frances

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    1. Thanks Frances. I hope the weather was better than expected.

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  5. Still no gardening here...snow and cold. So I won't be in the garden for weeks still. Love seeing the blooms and the woodland area.

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    1. You will be enjoying the beauties of spring when ours is long gone Donna - something to look forward too.

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  6. I guess that the Amelanchier will become a shrub if you take out the top shoot and a tree if you take out the bottom few branches to leave a clear stem. I have a buddleia tree in the garden that was produced this way.

    I am still waiting for the aconite's to appear, I hope they haven't rotted off in this wet weather. The erythroniums that I planted last year are in a tub still have to appear too.

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    1. Thanks for that Sue. I had an idea that if I cleared away a few of those bottom stems it would make it a bit more tree like. Good to have it confirmed this is the way to go with it.
      I just spotted an aconite coming through in an area that was under water for a long time, hopefully yours will not have suffered. I'll keep my fingers crossed for them.

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  7. It all looks full of life - I particularly like the hellebores and snowdrops.
    As so often happens, I have only just remembered that I have some pretty pink hellebores under a big hydrangea in the front garden - they were a bit of a surprise when we cut the hydrangea back...
    Spring is on its way - all the best :)

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    1. I'll bet the Hellebore really appreciated you cutting back that Hydrangea Pat. Thankfully my garden is not mature enough for those wee 'accidents' to happen yet.

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  8. It's a relief to see some dry albeit cold days Angie after all that endless wet. Too cold for wimps like me to be out this afternoon. I confess to beetling back in after only a half hour stint. Now 'Homersfield' has just had to go on my wish list :) It reminds me of 'Ketton'. What were your other new purchases? 'Wendy's Gold' looks perfectly placed in front of that hellebore. On the subject of 'drops I've just sent you an email. Hope that you manage to fit all your garden jobs in this weekend.

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  9. You're already getting a good early spring show from your bulbs, Angie. I love that crocus - I had a few yellow crocus come up this year (a big surprise after a few years of nothing) but our abnormally warm and dry weather quickly withered the flowers. I'm sure you're beyond tired of the rain there and I wish you could redirect some of it our way. As it is, I spent the morning dumping rainwater from my collection tanks on my poor, parched plants. I'd like to move a few of my own plants but I'm holding out in the hope that I can time that action to proceed our next rainstorm (if we ever get one).

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  10. Your garden looks lovely, liking all the flowers..
    Amanda xx

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  11. I agree with you concerning weeding. I find that the moment you can work in the garden you can pull in 30 minutes ten times more weeds than you would in the same time in summer. I suppose the weeds are a bit dozy after the winter and don't offer as much resistance!

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  12. You are so organized, Angie! To answer your question: No, the snow is still melting here, so I need to take care not to walk on the soil so I won't compact it. Soon, though, I'll be raking off all the mulch and seeing what beauties are ready to bloom. Cheers!

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  13. I do love your Hellebore selections, Angie! I'm a tad jealous over your irises as mine simply refuse to bloom; they come up but won't flower; must replace them with something that likes my garden...!
    Weeding in moist soil does make such a difference, doesn't it -- especially in clay. I'm finding it nearly impossible to pull some things up once the soil has dried as it then gets an incredible grip on the roots! And yes, I miss the freeze/thaw effects in the garden; it does so much to loosen the soil! You can tell I have a lot of clay here... ;-) Your newest snowdrop looks a real winner!

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  14. Hi Angie, you are in good company in terms of promising not to buy any more plants – and then go ahead and do precisely that, yes, join the club :-)
    Your Amelanchier alnifolia Obelisk is a very interesting shrub (I see it described as such with both Jackson Nurseries and Ashwood Nurseries), the fact that it can be pruned makes it very versatile, something for my wish-list. Your new woodland area looks very nice already, isn’t it exciting with a whole new bed to create?
    I hope the weather is getting better for you by now, less cold and windy, more spring like!

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  15. Angie, I see you have much to do in March. Love your hellebore. It's pity they aren't too hardy for our climate. I'm glad you ordered new plants, I did as well, bought some new anemones. You're right the cold can induce chlorisis, I always think about it when check my rhododendrons.

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  16. Everything is developing beautifully, and I'm impressed at how much you've managed to do despite the weather.

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