Thursday, 28 February 2013

End of Month Review - February 2013

February has largely been cold, quite frosty and a bit snowy too.  For a short month it has felt very long, it has felt like a barrier to Spring rather than a corridor to travel along.  The good side is though that now the days are definitely longer so if it would stop freezing and snowing then I could spend longer in the garden.

So, to the garden at the end of February:
The front garden is getting through the winter ok, the box hedging is looking a bit shaggy and it is a long time before it is pruning day, but the shagginess makes me happy as it means it is growing well and getting a bit more hedge like and less individual plant like every day.
The side lawn should have lots of crocus coming up, but there is very little sign of them. 
Around to the back garden, it still has that bleak winter look about it, maybe because it has been a standard bleak winter.
The Courtyard is looking a bit scappy too, the olive tree is doing very well and the camelia might flower eventually.  Sam the gnome has been joined by two rabbits.  I am keeping an eye on the rabbits in case any more arrive.
The Crown Frittilaria are starting to appear.  This is good news and a nice sign of Spring.  I love these odd looking flowers and they seem to be doing quite well in this spot on the edge of the Spring Border.
The Spring Border is largely hellebores at the moment (and the dead tree fern, this is the smaller of the dead tree ferns that I have in the garden, both are equally dead).  The pulmonaria will be flowering soon but this is very much a hellebore border.  I encourage them to self-seed and distribute the seedlings to other areas.  None are large enough yet to flower but I await with barely concealed excitement for the day that they will.
The view across the prairie borders looks ok.  The grasses have got through the Winter well.  I am hoping that there will have been some self-seeding to help thicken up the planting.
In the top right hand corner of the garden this Comfrey is growing well and flowering.  It started life as a small sprig and it is now starting to swamp this area, this is good, this is what I want it to do, I need to hide the stone thing behind it.  It also attracts bees incredibly well.
The woodland border looks like it needs the Spring to arrive soon.  It is a bit bare and scrappy.
The amalanchier though has large buds that are getting larger every day, this is a real sign that Spring will be here soon.
The Garrya, which briefly won me over with its silken tassles, now looks a bit manky again and I think I shall have to ignore it for the next 11 months until it looks nice again..... or dig it up...... one or the other.  I am feeling fickle about the Garrya.
There is a new addition to the Wild Garden, Cornus Midwinter Fire.  It is small at the moment but already giving some needed colour for this time of year.
At the edges of the Wild Garden the snowdrops are flowering.  I need to plant more.  I didn't plant any this year and I should have done.  They are starting to slowly bulk up now though and that makes me happy.
The Quince tree is showing some green.
The winter flowering cherry is still flowering well.
The crocus are starting to flower on the dancing lawn, I love it when it has its jewels of crocii shining through it.
The Dahlia/wallflower/woad border is currently dominated by the tree lupin.  So why don't I call it the tree lupin border?  Who knows!  maybe I shall in future.
This time of year is about signs of life, signs that the rheum palmatum has survived.
Signs that the geraniums will return,
Signs that there will be poppies again.
Signs that there will be Cerinthe and Nigella.
These iris are giving colour,
The Erysimum Harpur Crewe is starting to burst into flower.
These Thompson and Morgan pansies are flowering merrily away.
The veg beds look a bit empty,
but there will be garlic and leeks.
Inside the greenhouse various cuttings taken last year are keeping going and will be planted out once the frost is over.
and the pond, my wonderful beautiful pond, reflects the world on this cold still day and just waits for the frogspawn to arrive and life to beging again.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Snowdrops and wheatsheaves

It is the time of year when going to wander around snowdrop gardens is a very civilised way of spending a day.   I had never been to Easton Walled Gardens before, though I have bought their sweet pea seeds previously and have read much about the gardens.  Add to this a nice afternoon chatting with a friend met through twitter that resulted in a conversation about how wonderful the garden is which in turn led to a not-needed excuse to go and visit the garden together when it was snowdrop time.
So Karen and I met up there on a very cold afternoon, snow was threatened but thankfully it had held off so far.  Unusually for me I had not read-up on the garden before I visited so I knew very little about the history of the place at all.
The main thing you need to know is that the great house is no more, it was bulldozed in 1951 and the gardens left to pretty much their own devices from then until 2001 when restoration work began.  When you see the photographs of how much it had overgrown, the progress made in such a short period of time is impressive.
They have a slick operation at the Gardens.  A nice plant sales areas, a history room, a workshop room where they were having snowdrop talks at the moment and a couple of gardeny-gifty places.  In fact rather nice gardeny-gifty things and plants and I did well not to buy too much from there. However it is apparently against the law to go there and not buy sweet pea seeds and some snowdrops.  I am a law-abiding person so I bought both.  Oh and a couple of other plants too....

Now this time of year the Garden is about snowdrops, there are many and they are beautiful.  I am not a snowdrop fanatic, I grow what I would term 'pleb snowdrops' and they make me happy.  I can appreciate the subtleties and differences between snowdrops and I love the promise of Spring that they bring to the garden but I am not someone who is going to spend more than £5 on a single bulb.
There is more in the flower than just snowdrops, there are some wonderful swathes of winter aconites, some daffodils already in flower and hellebores.
Amongst the beautiful white of the snowdrops there is colour.
The gardens are, I hope it not considered unkind to say, currently a shadow of what they once were and clearly what is hoped they will be again.  There is much new planting and new areas being developed.
I loved the views that were possible of the garden, the perspective was fascinating.  The walled garden itself reminded me like something from Alice Through the Looking Glass, from a distance it looked on painted on the landscape.
The yew tunnel in the walled garden is incredibly overgrown, on the old photographs it was once a well pruned piece of growing sculpture.  it would take a lot to restore it to what it was as now they are massive trees.  Whether they could survive the brutal pruning they would need I would not like to think.
There are many steps, they are good steps and create good eye-lines up and down the landscape.  They remain a key structural part of the garden and it is good that they were able to be restored.
A good bridge too, you can't beat a good bridge.
At the moment there are many white dots at the gardens, the dots of the snowdrops and the larger dots of the sheep grazing in the surrounding parkland.
I would say you need to be careful not to mix them up, but to be honest if you get confused between sheep and snowdrops then I would worry.
but just in case, this is a sheep....
these are not sheep.  (sorted).
I think I have mentioned previously that I like a good pointy tree garden, there are some good pointy trees.
This is the area where the sweet peas will be in the summer, I definitely have to visit again when they are in flower.
The wheatsheaf mentioned in the title of this post the symbol of the Cholmeley family.
There is a also a turf maze in the wheatsheaf design.
There are also some well planted pots around the Garden.
This though is my favourite pot.  It is a good pot but more to the point the framework is beautiful, it works as a structure in itself without a plant growing on it, though I believe they have clematis on them later in the season.  This I will also want to see.  I did leave having framework envy.

So, a good visit, many snowdrops were witnessed but not counted.  Lunch was good and the cake good.  We had a lovely day wandering around chatting and setting the world to rights and I have found a garden that I want to see in later seasons, which in my world is the test of a good garden.