Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Marching on

Even when the nights start drawing out and temperatures begin to rise I always get a feeling of apprehension towards the garden and plants.  I get that exicted feeling as the garden come back to life but there is always this strange feeling as I await the return of some plants that have yet to prove themselves.  Recently the winter aconites were causing me a bit of concern, I pleases me to announce they have all reappeared, some later than others though.  But they are all present and correct.  Even the ones that were under water for the best part of 2 weeks.  Am I the only one that feels that way?  Is it fear of disappointment and my vision ruined or wasted limited funds?  I am just not sure.  The other day I discovered ALL the Pulsatilla I planted last year are showing signs of life.  I love these little plants but had shied away from growing them because I wasn't sure they'd cope with the conditions here.  I had been encouraged to try them when I saw a friend growing them in less than perfect conditions.  My concerns don't end there though, there are one or two others that still cause me to worry a little.  I keep telling myself it's still early and perhaps the soil just isn't warm enough.                            

Eranthis cilicica and Galanthus Spindlestone Surprise
The beginning of the month was cold with frequent frosts, I would not say it came in like a lion but it was certainly not lamb like.  A brief glimpse of summer and warm temperatures mid March just happen to coincide with a week's annual leave from work.  I was grateful I managed not only to find time to garden but also managed a day out at the Royal Botanical Gardens here in Edinburgh.  I've a mass of pictures to sort through before writing a post about it.  Working outdoors on those sunnier days was a real pleasure.  The Hellebores were holding their nodding heads high.

I wasn't the only one active in the garden on those sunny days.  The Hellebores and Crocus were abuzz with bumblebee activity.  It's always a pleasure to see them return to the garden.

The roses have now all been pruned.  I brought the Begonia and Dahlia tubers out from storage and potted them up. Already the Begonias had began sprouting but not the Dahlias.  This is my first attempt at storing Dahlia tubers, they are showing no signs of life yet but they are firm so should be alright.  The Cosmos atrosanguineus I think have failed to make it through winter.  I had a hunch they would be trickier and indeed they have proved just that.

The Narcissus and Chionodoxa have now take over from where the snowdrops, iris and crocus left off.  Various Pulmonaria around the garden too are coming into bloom.  The Fritillaria are also near to blooming.      

Around the garden buds on the trees and shrubs are fattening.  Oddly enough I never fret quite the same about those.  The star Magnolia in the side garden, which was once a tiny specimen, is covered in flower buds.    

Magnolia stellata

The Leucothoe that was rather sickly looking has recovered.  All signs of chlorosis on the foliage is gone.  I originally blamed the wet weather but I suspect it was more likely the cold that was the cause.
Leucothoe fontanesiana Whitewater
The honeysuckles are leafing out very early this year.  I suspect they will flower early too judging at how far on this one on the side fence is.

The lawns have now all had their first cut, edges tidied and I even managed to aerate the front lawn. This is something I've never tried before.  I was chatting to a work colleague who has a troublesome lawn and he was asking me what course of action to take.  Of course, it's best to practice what I preach - I don't have a tool to do this so used my garden fork.  I rid this area of dandelions and daisies couple of years ago but note there are one or two at will need to be dealt with before they take hold again.  Thankfully it's not a large area so it wasn't quite a chore.  As you can see there is plenty of new growth out the front  I have finished tidying all but one of the borders.  I hope to get stuck into that this coming weekend.

Aerated lawn March 2016
The last remaining New Year's Resolution not to be broken is now broke!  Although in my defence, this work is more of a necessity and certainly not through choice.  Despite me moving the shed to a higher position the floor and side wall is still getting saturated when it rains.  It will only be a matter of time before it begins to rot.  I have decided to bite the bullet and replace it but at the same time take the opportunity to  remove a good part of the deck it sits on while I am at it.  Already some of the deck boards are rotting anyway so would need replacing sometime soon.  Two birds with one stone and all that.

The frame underneath though is still very sound and I need to take sections out at a time, this is all very labour intensive.  I'm not as young as I was when I put this in 9 years ago!  Those posts are sunk into concrete that is about 2ft deep!  The whole area is covered with a weed suppressing membrane, which in turn is covered in 3 tonnes of gravel chippings.  Yes, this job was meant to last!  The disposal of the stuff itself is a headache, I only have a small hatchback car.  It means multiple trips to the local dump.  I am now on first name terms with Stan and Tam.  

I don't envisage me getting it finished anytime soon since I no longer have many free afternoons. Now if only Olli was old enough I could enlist his help.  Injuries thus far, a suspected broken thumb.  A trip to A&E determined it was not but just badly bruised.  This work, once completed, will not only mean a nice new shed to play around in but I will also have some new areas to plant up.  So will be worth all the effort in the end.  Can you tell I am trying to keep the vibe positive?


  1. Love the bumblebees covered with pollen in the flowers. Your garden looks nice and tidy, it seems you are on scheme but now you still have to bite the bullet with renewing the shed and deck. I'm sure you will succeed, but one thing at a time.
    Wish you success and lots of nice weather to garden.

  2. It's not just you that waits anxiously for signs of life. So far no signs of aconites or Fritillaria michaelovskyi plnated last year and far fewer iris reticulata than there should be. :-(

  3. Oh gosh, this is so hopeful! I needed this today. We're experiencing a gray, drippy day. Many of these things are blooming in my garden, too. This is my first year for Winter Aconites, and I must say, I've fallen in love. Your image at the beginning captures them so beautifully. :)

  4. More than impressed with all the work you are putting in Angie, everything seems to be coming together nicely. I can't even think of aerating most of my grass at the moment the fork would be sucked in! Carry on with the good work but please, please try to avoid giving yourself a permanent injury:-)

  5. Hi Angie, as always I so enjoyed reading your post and loved to see the photos from your garden. In my climate I don't worry about if I get plants through the winter, but how to get them through our freaking hot and dry summers. Last year holds the sad record of loosing the most plants ever during the summer months. I planted things and then sometimes I saw them dying within days or they struggle forever to finally loose at the end and die, too. But there is nothing that I can do about it. I have excepted that this is part of gardening in my climate and I intend to stay calm and carry on this summer.
    Warm regards,

  6. Oh that bumble bee in the crocus looks a most contented fellow Angie. You are certainly not alone. It's always nerve-wracking at this time of year waiting for both well loved and newly planted plants to appear. I'm peering every day at the moment at something that I'm sure that I planted last year, didn't label and wondering if it is what I think it is. Does that make sense?

  7. It's wonderful to see old friends coming back isn't it. Still no aconites here so I've given up on them, but the hellebores have probably had their best year yet. Good luck with the shed!

  8. Don't worry Angie, your bulbs seem to be doing beautifully. Your pictures are great. You will have to do a few posts on the shed renovation progress.

  9. Well I am glad your thumb is not broken....I do know the apprehension you speak of....what will return, what will be lost. I am seeing more crocus this year so many were not lost after all. But still I wonder what will not appear. I'd say your bulbs are doing beautifully.

  10. I'm glad that you've had some time to enjoy your beautiful garden, Angie! I know what you mean about the apprehension association with ending a difficult season and awaiting the rebirth of your plants - we don't experience that apprehension at winter's end but rather at summer's end. It's rather like calling on an old friend after a long absence - does she still live there? will she look the same?

  11. I am exactly the same Angie. I think it is the time scale involved if a plant fails. It is often a year before we can try again or get something else in its place, unless we go for something quite different. My aconites have been a real disaster. I planted 25 in the green last year and expected a lovely yellow bank. I have about 6 that came up and not a single flower. I didn't know Pulsatilla was so difficult - I bought one last year and then promptly forgot about it, so no anxious waiting, just a lovely surprise when the soft new growth came through. A lovely post Angie - I do hope your thumb doesn't take too long to get better though.

  12. There is plenty to be optimistic about in your garden Angie, with all the spring colour. It is frustrating when something you constructed years ago, which you thought would last, needs replacing. As you say it doesn't get any easier, fortunately we gardeners are a optimistic bunch!

  13. I missed this when you posted it, but I am glad to see all your early spring flowers blooming happily. That looks like a very big job you have taken on, I hope you have managed to complete it with no further injuries.

  14. Ouch! So that's how you hurt your thumb. Mind you, it is in a good cause, new and solid storage plus new planting opportunities. I'm just sorry your injury happened just as things pick up their pace in the garden.

    PS I know exactly what you mean about worrying about plants at this time of year, I am always almost as relieved as I am delighted to see old friends re-emerging, or new ones returning for a second year.


Your comments are appreciated. My blog is currently experiencing issues with some readers reporting problems when posting their comments. Please bear with me whilst I try to rectify the problem.
I have temporarily switched on word verification. I apologise for this, personally, I don't like it either, I am hoping this may help.