Tuesday, 31 March 2015

End of Month View March 2015

February 2015
For once the End of Month seems to have come round rather slowly. I'm not sure if that's because February came and went in a flash or because the month of March continues to be a cold one and little time has been spend outdoors.  All day today we had sleet, hail and rain.  Interspersed with glorious bouts of sunshine.  On days like this, you can almost hear the garden grow.  I love it!  The lion that roared at the beginning of the month hasn't quite let up yet.      

I forked in a couple of bags of manure along the hedge line in an attempt to give the hedge a bit of a boost earlier this month.  It is not the best specimen and for reasons I've touched on in previous posts - it stays for now.  I'm hoping it will benefit from all that goodness I have added.  I know it would probably benefit from a good prune, possibly to within an inch of it's life but I feel that if I do that, then the whole garden will be open and what little shelter from the wind I currently provides would be lost.  I had 2 jobs marked down to get down since last post, one was to move the mat of Campanula persicifolia that seemed to have made it's way around the base of the hedge, that's now gone but I've still done nothing about moving the Podocarpus.  I did however move the small Taxus baccata x media a few feet towards the corner, it looks better there, I think.   It will get tall but as it is a narrow upright specimen, it should fill that corner just fine.  In the four years I've had this shrub it's been moved from pillar to post and I hope now I can be happy with it where it is.
Looking West - End of March 2015
after a hail storm
A neighbourhood cat or possibly one of my own, I've yet to catch the culprit, has taken to using the freshly forked over soil as a toilet.  I've positioned a few large stones in those spots in the hope to deter who ever it is.  I've made a small bird bath feature out of a couple of them.  Speaking of birds, the bird feeder has proved a great success this winter and I am attracting far more goldfinches into the garden than have ever been before.  This of course will also be a reflection on how cold our weather has been but it's been in constant use and I'd be loathe to withdraw it now.   I had originally put a feeder there to attract the bullfinches that perched on those nearby trees.  They did not come in their droves and a lone female has been seen in the garden only once - here she is foraging around.  A rather fuzzy picture taken through the living room window a couple of weeks back. 

Kindly posing for a few snaps are some of the now regular visitors to the front garden.  Thankfully, the squabbling starlings and sparrows tend to stay round the back and these little ones get their fill in peace!
Greenfinch, Great Tit, Goldfinch and Blue Tits
The whole area has been weeded and the lawn edged.  I had hoped to have given the grass it's first cut by now and got some grass seed down on the path leading out from under the arch but the weather has hampered my attempts.  Still, it looks far tidier just with the edges done. 

Most of the perennials are now raring to go and whilst it's been difficult not to focus on the lack of blooms throughout February and March, there is little I can do about that now.  It will be remedied come autumn and I will introduce some Hellebores and yet more early bulbs. 

Looking back toward the house, the bearded Iris, which are dotted around, came from round the back where they struggled for years, rarely blooming.  They seem to be enjoying the better drainage round here.  Many I have never seen flower as they were brought along from my brother's house when he moved in there 3 years ago.   It will be interesting too see just what turns up and whether or not they will be worth keeping.  Other Iris that should hopefully make a good show this year are the Juno Iris I previously grew in containers and the Dutch Iris Bronze Beauty that were planted last autumn.
End of Month View March 2015
towards the house

Mixed behaviour from the roses, some are really going strong, whilst others are still tight in bud.  Those that are tight in bud are the ones that chose to flower very late in the year.  I have no idea if this is the norm or just a coincidence.   Any ideas?

Apart from the Roses (which had time to settle in all summer) and one or two others, I am seeing how all these plants will look together for the first time this year.  Last year's End of Month View was one where I chose to fill the border as the seasons progressed, which to be honest is my usual method of gardening, I am very poor at planning.  Doing things this way is a whole new ball game for me and I am filled with both excitement and apprehension on how it will look come summer time.   

The End of Month View meme hosted by Helen over at The Patient Gardner's Weblog is an extremely useful one.  It helps to give me focus, it gives me something to work towards and also provides a means to get my thoughts down without the need for hand written notes.  A reference to look back on and to compare successes and failures, what works and what doesn't.  I can thoroughly recommend taking part.  If you haven't already done so that is.        

Just as I was about to come indoors, I spotted this wee beauty getting ready to bloom.  Primula Elizabeth Killelay is one of my favourites.  I've had it quite a few years now and last year was recovering in a pot after being divided to give away to a few friends.  She seems delighted to get her feet back in the ground and has put on quite a bit of growth.  She should, all things going well, look great come bloom day on the 15th of the month.   

Primula Elizabeth Killelay
just coming into bloom

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Orange Crocus

Last autumn I planted a small bag, 10 bulbs to be precise, of Crocus olivieri balansae subsp. Zwanenberg.  If that doesn't roll of your tongue freely, then you could always use the alternative name, as listed on the packaging. Crocus Orange Monarch - it's far easier to pronounce.

I blogged about them at the time, you can read the post and comments here. Suffice to say that I had been rather skeptical, as were most of you too, as to how the colour of the blooms would compare to those on the packaging.

Following advice given on the packet, I chose a very sunny spot in the front garden.      

Crocus Orange Monarch blooming 21 March 2015

The colour is more golden yellow than orange I would say.  What do you think?

Never in the creation of all things garden was 10 bulbs going to give me an eye catching display and to be honest, they were only planted as a bit of a novelty.  Which is probably just as well since I had forgot they were there and dumped a bucket of manure right over the top of them!  They've done quite well considering.  Here they are in their entirety - a rather meager display beneath the Itoh peony.   It will be interesting to see if they multiply as well as other Crocus seem to do in my garden.

Crocus Orange Monarch
Crocus olivieri balansae subsp. Zwanenberg  
Whilst I am not totally disappointed, after all I was skeptical from the outset, I suppose I feel a bit let down and embarrassed to say that I fell for their marketing ploy.  What about you, have you had any minor let downs or major disappointments this spring?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bloom and Grow (March 2015)

I suspect that as the year progresses, my wandering around aimlessly shopping for a plant, in bloom and one that I have previously not grown or attempted to grow will be somewhat less limited.  Coupled with the fact that I am not in the market for either bedding, shrubs or trees - pickings at this time of the year are still quite slim.

The shelves were full of the usual suspects but either I have them already or they have decided that they neither liked nor wished to thrive in my garden.  I think the long winter is also reflective on what was on offer.  The growers have more than likely had a late start to the year.

One of my favourite places to shop for plants is New Hopetoun Garden Centre, you can always be assured of good quality plants and great advice should you need it.  So just what newbie made it into my shopping basket this month?

I came home with 3 pots of a plant that has long been on my wish list and one that I always forget to buy until it's too late!  Erythronium Pagoda, I hope will make a lovely new addition to my garden.

Erythronium Pagoda
Erythronium Pagoda flower bud
Although not quiet in bloom, they are in bud and there seems to be lots of them.  Hopefully I'll get a lovely, albeit fleeting, show of those pale sulphur yellow blooms.  3 pots might be a tad generous for a trial but since there really was nothing else that took my fancy, I thought why not?

Erythronium are bulbous perennials with paired ovate or broadly eliptic leaves - check!  The hybrid 'Pagoda' has rich mottled green leaves - check!  The leafless stems should reach a height of around 30cm and produce around 10 nodding creamy yellow flowers.  Obviously I can't confirm nor deny that fact presently.  I note though that some sites describe the blooms a sulphur yellow and others yellow.  Presently, the outer tips of the buds look quite pink to me.

As I popped them into the boot of the car, it dawned on my that those thick juicy leaves could well become slug fodder.  I see that the RHS list slugs as a possible issue.  On the positive side, they are generally disease free.  I can just see the rasping teeth of those gastropods making short work of these beauties!  I will need to keep a close eye.
Their common name Dog's Tooth Violet is not derived from the fact that they are related to the plant we know as Violet (species Viola) but from the fact that their bulbs resemble dogs teeth.  From images I have found online, that seems to be the perfect description.

Pagoda is a hybrid between Erythronium tuolumnense and Erythronium californicum White Beauty.  The former providing the blooms and the later supplies the mottled leaf and the reddish brown ring near the centre of the flower.  Hopefully I will have more to report on the flower come Bloom Day on the 15th of next month.  Erythronium Pagoda has been awarded an AGM by the RHS.

It should thrive in a spot with dappled or partial shade and the deep humus rich soil it requires is not
an issue in my garden.  I also note that it requires a spot that does not dry out completely in summer - this is not a problem either.  Plants that require sucg conditions tend to do quite well in my garden.  It is said not to be fussy on soil ph.  In theory, this plant should perform well in various spots around my garden, therefore I am still undecided on it's final positioning.

In the 1.5l pots I have purchased it seems that there is possibly 3 bulbs per pot, that would equate to around £2 odds per bulb.  To me is quite good value as I've previously seen similar sized pots on sale in a large chain for just under a tenner.  I've checked around online
and the price I paid per pot seems to be quite fair and is on par with what is being asked for at a few online plant retailers. 

I do look forward to seeing these spring beauties thrive in my garden and hopefully have many years of enjoyment out of them.  Providing I can keep the slugs away that is!

Do you grow Erythronium?  If you do I'd be interested to read your comments on them.

Jane over at Hoe Hoe Grow is setting herself a similar garden challenge this year.  She has taken this challenge one bit further and is starting a new meme.  Titled 'Plantfest' -  it will be open on the 23rd of each month.  Join us in taking a leaf, excuse the pun, out of Geoff Hamilton's book by visiting a nursery or GC each month to buy a plant in bloom.  It can help us ensure we have year round blooms in our garden.  Do you dare challenge yourself out of your comfort zone and try something for the first time.  A word of warning though.......it could have a detrimental effect on your bank balance!    You can join in and link your post here, just as I'm about to do.  See you there!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day March 2015

What a treat I had for Mother's Day - a chilly afternoon spent digging some manure into the area around the front hedge.  It isn't the best of specimens and I have opted for taking the easy route of adding nutrition rather than a hard prune to rejuvenate it.  If feeding the soil doesn't work, the loppers and saws will be out in force next spring!  There is now a wonderful whiff in the air each time you open the front door.  Why am I the only one that appreciates it?

Temperatures here are still hovering around 4 or 5°C during the day and the garden is reflective of this.  While the garden appears to be stuck in limbo, comparing what I have in bloom today and what was flowering in Marches past it seems to be pretty much the same.  My mind is playing tricks on me.

Looking at their best right now - the oriental hybrid Hellebores add a bit of interest in various spots around the garden.  They all came into the garden via a tray of plugs I purchased 4 years ago.  All are now a good size and make a real difference at this time of the year.

Helleborus orientalis, Narcissus Tete a Tete and Galanthus nivalis

The only daffs flowering right now are Narcissus Tete a Tete.  The clump above in the shot with the Hellebores are new to the garden this week, they make a lovely addition between the snowdrops and hellebores I think.

Over on the sunnier side, paired with some Crocus vernus Jeanne d'arc, they cheer up a border where there is nothing else going on.  The bloom time of the larger dutch crocus generally signifies the start of the spring rains - in years gone by they are normally a crumpled heap by now!  It's been a change to see those stark white blooms upright for so long. 

Narcissus Tete a Tete and Crocus vernus Jeanne d'arc
A brief glimpse of the sun midweek brought out the best of the remaining Crocus chrysanthus blooms.  This grouping is a classic example of 'wrong place' - this spot was originally the front of a border but with the trellising going up last year, it makes their placing look rather odd.  New spots for them have been identified, some have already been moved, the remainder will be moved at some point over the next week.
Euonymus fortunei Emerald Gaiety and Crocus chrysanthus

Crocus chrysanthus and drone fly (Eristalis tenax) 
My earlier disappointment with Crocus sieberi Spring Beauty waned as the sun broke through the clouds.  The deep purple veining on the outside of the petals looks almost black when the blooms fully open.  I wonder if they over heard me saying that I'd need to move them elsewhere and find an alternative.
Crocus sieberi Spring Beauty
Down in the side garden, my espalier grown Camellia is the first to flower this year.  The delicately coloured pink blooms are tinged along the outer edge with a deeper shade are almost ready to burst open.  This solitary bloom has been out for a couple of weeks now.  The rest should be out in a week or so.
Camellia japonica Desire
This reliable little Primula blooms all around the garden sun or shade, its does well in all aspects.  It always blooms a week or two before P. vulgaris.  Seen here paired with yet another clump of N. Tete a Tete in the little bed outside the back door.
N. Tete a Tete and an unnamed Primula 
Corydalis are a favourite group of plants of mine.  They do well here and I am finding they are now spreading themselves around a little bit.  Which I hope means that they are happy.  They, of course, disappear in summer and tend to be forgotten about until just the right time in winter when the ferny foliage appears.  This pretty duo C. solida Beth Evans and C. malkensis get up close and personal beneath one of the Cornus.  Like the Primula will do well in either shade or sun here.

Corydalis solida Beth Evans and Corydalis malkensis
in the shadier side of the garden
The last bloom I want to share with you this month is currently blooming it's little heart out in the miniature garden - Saxifraga burseriana Gloria.  It always amazes me that something so little can produce so many blooms.  These lime crusted alpines would just not cope with the soil conditions in my garden, therefore I get the best out of them in a container where I can control the drainage.  Collapsed in a heap is the gorgeous Crocus biflorus Blue Pearl I shared with you all on Wordless Wednesday.  They have in years past flowered at the same time but not this year.   
Saxifraga burseriana Gloria
A big thank you for reading and please let me invite you over to May Dream Gardens where garden bloggers the world over will be sharing what's blooming in their garden this week.   I'm off now to see what's blooming in your garden.

Monday, 9 March 2015

What to do next?

For the first time this year I am venturing into the world of annuals and a few other frost tender plants.  I am getting round the issue of not having a greenhouse by using windowsills, as I know many of you do.  My trouble is that I only have a couple of windowsills that are suitable and being narrow can only take smaller pots.  I also have a few plugs waiting in the wings that really could do with that valuable window space.

I need some help with what to do next.

Ranunculus Cafe Caramel.  I could not resist the colour of those blooms.  How could I?  Those colours a just so sumptuous, don't you think?  Having researched a bit at time of purchase, I found that they are hardy down to minus 3 and since the conditions we were experiencing at the time was around the same - I decided not to put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak.  I put 4 tubers (soaked etc.) into a large pot to be kept in the cold frame and the remainder into small individual pots on the kitchen windowsill.  I am pleased that out of 10 tubers, 9 have sprouted.  For obvious reasons the ones in the cold frame are quite behind the others in the warmth of the kitchen.   This should, I suppose, in theory, extend the flowering season.

Cautious that the conditions in the ground may prove a little too damp, I feel they will fair better in containers.  I think the time is right to be potting the ones growing in individual pots into one large container.  I want them in a large container for better impact.  They appear to be getting rather leggy where they are at the moment. On tipping them out, I find that they all have a good root system in place.

When I pot them up into their final pot, am I able to put them directly into a cold greenhouse immediately or should they be conditioned first?  I have use of a neighbour's cold greenhouse for a few weeks, until she uses it herself for tomatoes.  Or could I simply pot them up and use a cloche to provide a bit of protection instead of having them under the cover of a greenhouse?  Maybe there is another option that I haven't thought of?

pot grown Agapanthus
I am hoping that I can chance my mitt and throw in a second cheeky wee question out to you all.  My Agapanthus are pot grown and are currently in the aforementioned cold greenhouse and I have given them all a good water to bring them out of dormancy, just as I have done in previous years.  I keep them in there until the risk of frost has passed.  In previous years I have waited until they are outdoors before feeding but feel they may benefit from getting fed before hand.  Does anyone else grow their Agapanthus in pots and if so, when do you introduce a feed?

Naturally, I am extremely grateful for any help or advice you'd like to through my way.  I know that many of you have given me your advice freely in the past and I hope some kindly soul will point me in the right direction this time too.

Do you have a garden related question?  If so, you might like to pop over to Sprig to Twig.  Ricki is running a series of posts where we can throw our queries out into the blogosphere in the hope that someone out there has that elusive answer to our question.  After all, a question is only easy if we know the answer!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Tree Following March 2015 - Sorbus Autumn Spire

Buds March 2015
My rowan tree, Sorbus Autumn Spire, is showing the minutest signs that spring is advancing. The tiniest of speck of green is proof that those leaves are about to burst.  If you look closely at the bud on the right you can just make it out.  The remaining buds on the tree are still tightly closed. I may have been a tad hasty in hoping that those buds would have burst by now.  Joining in with Lucy's Tree Following meme will go a long way in educating me in the tree's cycle of life.  Although I am only posting about one particular tree, I am observing others and taking notes.  Not something I've ever done before.  The wee coconut feeder continues to be well used by the smaller birds.  I had trialed a small suet feeder here too but I worried about the detrimental effect 30+ starlings would have on my fragile wee tree.  It's probably tougher than I think but i am not willing to take that chance.    
Sorbus Autumn Spire

At the beginning of the year, I envisaged snowdrop naturalising around the base. I've been busying myself lately by lifting and dividing a few of the more mature clumps of Galanthus nivalis. There has been plenty to go around.  This small grouping should fill out over the next few years.  It always amazes me just how little G. nivalis flinch when lifted from the ground in their prime.  I think technically you are supposed to wait until the flowers are about to go over but I generally tend to seize the moment as and when and have never found it hinders them the following year.

I am trialing some Eranthis in this spot.  I mentioned in my previous post that this area can be prone to the occasional water logging.  Everything I try here is experimental for the first year or so.  Over the years I've had failures and as my experience and knowledge grows I am having more positive results. The snowdrops will fair just fine, they cope with the same conditions further down the border. It will be a long wait until next year to see how the Eranthis do.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Galanthus nivalis, Eranthis cilicica and Primula denticulata Alba
Primula denticulata Alba are one of the successful plants I've trialed here.  Growing here for 3 years now, they are now spreading themselves along the stone edge of the border.  Trollius, Ligularia and Astilble that provide early and late summer blooms are as yet showing no signs of new growth.  In the gap to the left, last year's experiment, Darmera peltata, is not showing either.  The soil is probably not warm enough quite yet.  I was given a piece of this by a friend a couple of years back, I grew it on in a pot until it was bigger.  Last spring was it's first in the ground and I look forward to those huge architectural leaves adding a bit of impact this year.

Over the years it has been difficult choosing plants that thrive in this spot.  Conditions here vary, depending on rain fall.  They cover both ends of the scale.  Moisture can be excessive or the ground is very hard and dry.  Since it's easier to introduce moisture than it is to take it away (without prohibitive costs that is) I opt for plants that cope with the water rather than those that don't.  The excessive rainfall of 2012 saw this area under water for almost the whole summer.  The Philadelphus, Persicaria (growing nearby) and Primula are all the remain post 2012.

I am hopeful there will be more to report next month and just in case you missed the link at the top of the post, please join me and other garden bloggers who on the 7th (or thereabouts) of each month link their post to Loose and Leafy's Tree Following meme.  See you there!


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Lessons learned - Keeping better records

Tulipa National Velvet

I've been secretly scolding myself for weeks now.  I touched on the subject of me keeping better records of where and when I plant spring flowering bulbs in my EOMV post.  It's hardly surprising that my lack of effort has resulted me in not knowing my Alliums from my Tulips.  In my defence, if I have a valid one that is - there seems to be many tulip bulbs appearing and I don't ever remember buying as many, let alone having many tulip blooms.  I vaguely remember having a pot of Tulip Queen of the Night and Tulip National Velvet at some time in the dim and distant past.  I find I have  pictures to confirm that too.  I can only think that I would have popped them in the front garden, on a wing and a prayer, where their chances of survival will be improved by the better drainage conditions out there.

I had not intended to write a post to link with in Beth's Lessons Learned meme but something else happened yesterday and it has only gone to confirm that I need to take action sooner rather than later!

Contemplating a new spot for Hamamelis x intermedia Jelena - where she is planted makes it
February 2015
impossible to appreciate her beauty throughout the winter months. She still has a few blooms left and intend to move her when they've finally gone over.  In preparation for the move, which probably won't be for another couple of weeks, I wanted to move the wee clump of snowdrops that are growing at the base. I hadn't remembered planting them there and was rather disappointed that they hadn't flowered this year.  In my ignorance, I blamed this on me possibly moving them there at the wrong time of year or maybe I cut back the foliage too early last year.  I could see no labels, therefore thought it safe to assume that they were Galanthus nivalis.  I don't label or plot them when I move them around the garden.  Are you seeing a theme?

As every gardener that has the habit of moving plants around the garden will tell you, it's never safe to assume that any bulbs planted there or thereabouts will stay firmly in the spot you intended them to be.  That added to the occasional self seeders, can make things just as confusing, particularly if some don't come true to their parents.  I won't even bother adding wrongly labelled bulbs into the equation at this point.  I've had my fair share of those too!

I identified a suitably bare spot for the small clump of the afore mentioned G. nivalis.  I dug the receiving hole and off I trotted back down the garden to lift them from the soil.  As the trowel went in, it hit something hard, I immediately thought it was a stone, I dug around and discovered it was a clump of snowdrops that had been planted in a pond basket.  The fact that the basket was there means that I had intentionally planted them there and therefore were not G. nivalis.  I scratched my head, what on earth were they?  I had all my special snowdrops detailed in a word document and detailed in an unpublished page on my blog.  I could not recall any that I had lost track off!  I also noticed very nearby, about six inches away there was signs that another snowdrop was trying to grow, although the foliage was small, I had also assumed that it had made it's own way there.  There are a few single blooms dotted around the garden.  As I dug down, I found that it too was in a basket.  I was so annoyed with myself, why couldn't I remember?
Found snowdrops
Can you spot the label?  I wondered if the other had a label too and would what ever I had written on them still be legible?  Fingers crossed!

Phew, the names are clear.  Galanthus Hill Poe on the left and G. Galatea on the right. With no dates written, would I be able to whittle down as to how I acquired them?
As I back filled the holes that were left by the removal of the baskets, a foot or so away, I noticed yet more unfamiliar grow popping up through the winter debris.  What on earth have you been up to Angie?  I asked myself.

Emerging foliage March 2015
My first thought was Muscari?  I then decided that the foliage was perhaps a bit too fine to be such.  I felt down into the soil to see if I could find a buried label but no.  I didn't want to disturb them too much.  Just then I noticed the tiniest speck of what appeared to be white plastic poking above the surface but it was around 6 inches away.  Dare I hope?

Narcissus rupicola label

Written clearly, Narcissus rupicola!  Might this be them?  I have no idea, time will tell I suppose but if you are familiar with them, I'd be grateful for your opinion.

This of course was when it all came flooding back.  Last spring I received a few bulbs in the green from a gardening friend.  I had something to work with now.  Emails would be checked when I got the laptop switched on.  Described in an email as 2nd year seedlings of Narcissus rupicola, therefore this year will make them 3rd year seedlings, if in fact that is what they are.  Therefore it will be safe to assume that they will not flower this year. 

So, just what lessons have been learned this winter? More importantly how do I intend to rectify my mistakes.

  • To adopt a better system than I currently use to record bulb planting/moving
The system I currently use only lists each species and variety I have.  I think I now need to include specific planting details.  Info that might be worth recording is how many bulbs I plant, where and when bought/received from and the exact spot in which they are planted.

Do you keep a bulb log?  What information do you record?  What, if anything else, do you think might prove useful?  
  • Never depend on you memory, no matter how good you think it is, it will at some point fail you.
When you consider that bulbs are dormant and out of sight for pretty much most of the year, it can be all too easy to have them slip your mind.  The expression Out of sight, out of mind springs to mind. The same of course can be said about perennials and other plants around the garden but there are often more obvious signs that they exist.  If I had a record of already having G. Hill Poe in the garden then last weekend there would have been no need to buy another and I could have added an alternative to my collection. 

  • The importance of labelling/tagging plants in my blog posts.
I always start with good intentions of labelling plants as they appear in my posts.  It's far easier to do when only a few plants are in each post and is not always practical on longer posts.  I use Bloom Day Posts as an example.  Despite having the search facility on my blog, I was unable to find mention of any of the plants I feature today.  How on earth can I expect visitors to find my blog and the plants I feature if I can't do so myself!  The fact that blogger only allows a specific amount of characters in their label facility does not help matters.

How do you decide which plants to label/tag or not to tag in your posts?  Do you use a general label for longer posts such as Bloom Day posts? 

  •  To keep a note book to hand.
As of this week, I have placed a small spiral note book and pencil on the ledge by the back door.  It will take 2 minutes to write things down.  Not all plants have fancy nursery labels that can be collected or saved for reference.  Which reminds me, I need to work through those too!  Occasionally plants will be moved on a whim.  Plants received as a gift or swap can be easily noted.  Friends who pop in with a plant gift for you may not have had the foresight to label said gift or perhaps you picked the plant up at a plant sale, those wee white plastic labels are easily lost.  
  • Plant special snowdrops in baskets.
Had I not had these named varieties in baskets, they would have otherwise been relegated to the garden as G. nivalis.  I had considered planting this year's additions to my special snowdrop collection directly in the ground without baskets but this episode has made me wary of doing so and baskets will be used every time now.  It's not worth it for the sake of a few pence, is it?  Another benefit is that the entire collection could be easily uprooted at anytime of the year for whatever reason.  It's odd to think that my friend and I had the exact same conversation after the SRGC show as we went shopping for pond baskets.  I also know that it is often recommended to growing bulbs in baskets to help deter critters.  Not an issue I have but know many of you that do. 

Does anyone else grow bulbs in baskets out in the open garden?  Do you have a specific reason for doing so, may one I haven't thought about. Perhaps one you'd like others to be aware of.        

I know that over the course of the past year I've received a few plant swaps from readers of my blog.  Please be safe in the knowledge that I have recorded said welcome additions to my garden and have the emails we exchanged saved too. 

Have you learned any lessons this winter?  If so, please put together a post and pop over to Plant Postings and put up a link so we can all read it.  You never know, we might learn from you!   

Thanks for reading.   


Sunday, 1 March 2015

End of Month View February 2015

She who hesitates misses the worm!  I dithered back and forth today.  It was reasonably sunny when I
January 2015
rose this morning yet I put of getting a few sunny shots of the front garden, the focus of my End of Month View, in favour of hanging curtains in the room I finished decorating yesterday.  We've been having a few breaks in the clouds this week, therefore I felt it was safe to postpone taking pictures until the afternoon......wrong!  From the minute I put those step ladders away the clouds closed ranks on me.  The weather just turned from bad to worse!
Other than the fact there is no snow on the ground this month, little has changed out in the front garden over the last 4 weeks. As we look west out into the fields beyond, the outlook is still a winter one.  There is a sharp bite in the wind too.  We are forecast gales from early evening.  In fact, as I type the wind and rain is battering the front window and the birds are furiously feeding before the go off to roost.  I started writing this post last night and although a tad sunnier the wind and rain has been just as fierce today.
View looking west February 2015
I leveled off the soil around the arch and will at the earliest opportunity get some lawn seed down.  Presently there is a single paver leading through the arch but am now thinking how tricky mowing between the arch will be.  For the time being I am prepared to will live with but suspect that will change at some point.    

Standing directly in front of the house, you can just about make out that the roses have been pruned. I grabbed the chance to prune them mid week, in between coats of paint drying.  I've an admission to make.  Rose pruning terrifies me!  Even more so now that you are all bearing witness to my attempts.

Greenery is provided by way of the odd evergreen or two and the emerging perennials.  The Cordyline and Phormium in their respective pots have managed through winter with no protection.  I did not buy these plants.  They are plants I would not normally choose for the garden. They were bought by my mother who just happens to be naturally drawn to plants that I either don't particularly like or are tender.  The fact that the Cordyline was so expensive stops me from disposing of it!       
View towards the house
What do you think of my eyecatching display of Crocus?  Exactly, to which Crocus are you referring to Angie?  Please excuse the sarcasm.  If you peer long enough you might just make them out.  Don't get me wrong, they are lovely wee things close up, truly they are. The buds are as promised, white, veined with the deepest of purple.  Sadly, browness of soil does no justice whatsoever to the deepest of purple.   There are some 200 bulbs blending into the background.  To say that I am disappointed is perhaps a bit of an understatement.   They'd be far better suited to being naturalised in a lawn I think. 
Crocus sieberi Spring Beauty
I am finding that a few bulbs  have made their way to the surface of the soil.  They have firmly rooted themselves in situ but am not sure if they are Dutch Iris or Fritillaria uva-vulpis bulbs - any one got an idea on which they are?  Although I only planted them a few short months ago, I can't remember what either bulb looked like.  This is not an issue I have experienced before.  My first thought was maybe the cats had brought them up to the surface but there are no signs that my cats, or any other for that matter have been digging in the garden. 

Unknown bulb
Does anyone know if these shoots belong to Allium nectaroscordum bulgaricum or Tulips?  The foliage looks a bit like tulip to me but as I used to grow Allium nectaroscordum nearby they could just as easily be those.  I thought that the foliage on the Allium was more strap like and with a sort of twist.
Unknown foliage
The front garden used to be a bit of dumping ground for plants I decided wouldn't do well round the back or didn't fit in with my plans so I expect there will be a few surprises throughout the year.  This past winter I was supposed to find an alternative spot for Campanula persicifolia and I have so far failed to do so.  It will need to be lifted and moved soon, it is planted a bit too close to the hedge and doesn't fit in with my plans.  

Another plant that needs a new spot is Podocarpus x Young Rusty.  The Chocolate brown winter colour is lovely, in summer it is a rather unassuming wee shrub.  Presently a bit to up close and personal with Rosa Port Sunlight.  I think those are some Iris reticulata on the left, if they are then they are possibly Iris reticulata Pauline.  I really need to keep a better record of where I plant/move bulbs too in future.  It's just so easy to pop them in and forget all about them isn't it?  I am currently working on better record keeping in so far as bulbs go.
Podocarpus x Young Rusty
Speaking of Iris reticulata - I bought 3 trays of I. reticulata George a couple of weeks ago, thinking in my mind that they were more purple than the blue they have turned out to be.   I am now in two minds whether or not to plant them out front.

It's not all negative, there are some positives too.  

Verbascum Clemantine has started to show new foliage. Being listed as a short lived perennial, I was surprised that it made it through winter.  Short lived perennials are generally best grown as annuals here.  I can only presume that it's survival is testament to the decent drainage here in the front garden.    

I was gifted a cutting of the variageted Erysimum Walbertons Fragrant Star last year by a friend.  I struggled to find exact details of it's hardiness.   It's looking good, I think.  Although it's horizontal growth habit is being dictated to by the wind.  I will look into taking some more cuttings and find a spot that is a bit more sheltered from the wind to grow it in.        
Erysimum Walberton's Fragrant Star
Having had success in growing some Iris bucharica in a pot for the 3 previous years, I decided to move it out of it's pot and into the ground.  I have previously kept the pot bone dry during the summer months, bringing it out from under cover in autumn to benefit from the autumn and winter rains.  I expected it to reappear this spring, it won't be until next spring whether or not I know this move has been successful.
Iris bucharica shoots end of February 2015
A passing thought I would like to put down on record if I may?  A reference I can use when doing my round up at the end of the year,  is to take heed on how bare the area feels right now.  I should consider trying a different colour palette for this time of year.  Hellebores would be one way to introduce some winter blooms, steering the colour away from my summer palette and should the bloom time over lap, the hellebores would not mind being dead headed to remove any that may clash.  Food for thought! 

Please join me and other garden bloggers for their End of Month View posts over at The Patient Gardeners Weblog - everyone is welcome!  Thanks for reading.  I'm off to see what's been going on in your garden this past month.