Wednesday, 30 April 2014

End of Month Review - April 2014

In general April has been quite mild, warmish and wettish with only the occasional frost; ideal growing conditions really.  So the garden has been growing well and is a good couple of weeks in advance of last year when Spring was late to arrive.

This time last year the Magnolia was just starting to flower, this year it is just finishing.  It has been magnificent and thankfully the frost did not damage it, this is the first year that has happened.
This year the tree is now wearing some blue wool, this is the mark the flowers that were different from the main tree, I don't know if I can collected viable seeds or take cuttings from these couple of flowers, but if I can I will see if I can propagate them.  Well, its worth a try, I can dream of a new strain of Magnolia can't I?
The Knot Garden is looking fantastically lush, it will soon be time to do some box trimming when it will look neat and lush.
The peony grown from seed is still in bud, I cannot wait to see it in flower.
and in the border by the front door the wallflowers and alliums are looking rather good together, yes it looks suspiciously like I might be liking my front garden at last.
Around then to the side of the house and the gravel garden, that is looking green too.
The rosemary was getting a bit straggly and so it has had a trim.  There is also the ubiquitous Stachys bizantia, great plant, but its seeds everywhere.
The ivy-covered rowan is showing lots of new growth, this is good and I am pleased except the ivy is also showing new growth, I am going to have to cut it back again.
The back garden is growing like made, everything is putting a spurt on, especially the dandelions.  You do not get a prize for spotting them in the following photographs it would be too easy a competition.
The Courtyard is filling up with pots, in the far corner in the Rhododendron luteum that is one of the best plants I have ever bought.  It may only flower briefly but the colour and scent of the flowers makes up for that brevity.  I open the conservatory door and the scent floods in.  This year I want to see if I take cuttings from it, I am going to try layering it too as apparently that is quite a good way of propagating it.  Time will tell!
The view across the Conservatory Border is looking quite good, there is quite a bit of colour appearing now, mainly but not totally from tulips.
I do love a good tulip, I am making quite a list for the Autumn as there are many I wish to have.
The Conservatory Border is making me very happy with the repeat of doronicums that run along the edge, this makes me so happy that....
.... I have taken some divisions and moved them into the Spring Border.  It was extended over the Autumn last year and needs filling out.  I do not intend to buy any plants to do this, it will be filled with divisions and plants grown from seed.  Of course I might find a 'must buy' plant and add it, I will not rule that out, but the plan generally is not to buy to fill.
Looking up the side boundary there are two cherry trees, in the foreground a £1 Aldi special that provides a good crop of edible cherries every year (shame I don't like them) and an ornamental cherry further up which flowers more and more every year.
As I turn and look with the cherry trees behind me there is the view across the Prairie Borders, they are a bit scrappy this time of year as the grasses are just starting to get going, in a couple of months it will look better.
The Bog Garden and Woodland Border look better all the time.  This crabapple that sits on the border between them is covered in blossom, it is only been there a couple of years but is a delight.
The Bog Garden in particular is filling up nicely.  I have bought several ferns for this part of the garden and I am hoping it will look good as they start to really put on growth next month.
From here I can look down the Wild Garden, which is looking very green.  I have mown more than I usually do this year, the patches are a bit smaller and there are more shrubs now in this part of the garden, it may soon be the Wild Shrubbery!
I rather like this view from the top corner, down over the Woodland Border, across the Dancing Lawn and down to the house.
The apple trees have lots of blossom on them.
The quince has sort of blossomed, the frost might have hit it and I am worried that my chances of an actual quince this year are already doomed.
The medlar though is yet to blossom so I imagine the crop will be safe from frost now.
The Third Hamamelis is starting to get leafed up, this is good, I think with any luck it will settle in fine to its new position and I live in hope of flowers next Spring.
I am watering the newly relocated Magnolia 'Fairy bush' in the hope that it too recovers and settles in soon.
In the Tree Lupin Border the woad is taking its turn to shine.
The iris will soon be flowering too,
as will the peonies.
The first sweet peas have opened, this is very early I think and a result of my Autumn sowing.  I do not usually Autumn sow but I might again as this has worked well.  In the greenhouse the Spring sowings are also now germinating so I will have a good long season I hope of them in flower.
I tidied up the pleached hornbeams the other day.  They are maturing quite well now and I am hopeful that this year they might actually look pleached rather than tortured.
The Four Sisters are leafing up well, the Carol Klein acer is particularly looking good.  It has finally forgiven me for years in a pot, then a transfer to the garden followed by a relocation to where it is now.  Poor thing.
The Edgeworthia is also coming back into leaf.  The recent frosts did upset it a bit, but it has survived and this makes me very happy.  Every year it lives is a small celebration in my world.
The Rosa Hyde Hall hedge is looking a bit more hedgy every year.  It was covered in flowers last year so I am looking forward to even more this year.
The veg beds are largely full of wallflowers, cabbages, purple sprouting brocolli and potatoes that are yet to show themselves.  I have planted fewer potatoes this year, I didn't really intend to plant any but I caved and bought a few.  I will see how they go, I am increasingly of the opinion they take up a lot of space for not enough return.
The greenhouse is quite full, lots of seedlings are coming up,
Cuttings from last year are getting ready to be planted out.
Begonias from last year are re-sprouting,
and the Tree Dahlias grown last year from seed are really growing well.  They need to go outside soon (they also need weeding), I am going to put one into a larger pot and the other I think I will plant in a sheltered part of the garden.  This is a gamble but if I am lucky it will get through the Winter.  I might wimp out from this plan.
The pond is full of parrot weed and full of tadpoles.  I am happier about the latter.  I am happy it is very full though, that should stand it in good stead if we have a hot dry spell, or Summer as I like to call it.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Wordless Wednesday - luxurians

Sunday, 27 April 2014

and then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid.... 'that's looks a nice innocuous plant, I think I shall plant some of those.

You know when something feels like a good idea at the time, you think that this plant is really quite pretty and you would like some?  Then it starts to self seed a bit and you are happy and encourage it.  Lets face it, self-seeders often place themselves in far better combinations than I could design.  But them, suddenly you have swathes of it, it is smothering everything around it and turning up all over the garden.  This is the moment when you realise that whilst you still want it, probably still want lots of it, you are going to have to impose some control.  Does this sound familiar or do you have more sense than me? (don't answer that, I know you do, you must do).
It's not like I have only done this once, no, I am a repeat offender.  I can have at any one time a considerable amount of:

Nigella -  I pull it up by the handful as there is plenty more where that came from, it is lovely and I would not be without it, but it needs editing

Ox eye daisy - same as above

Allium 'hair' - same as above

Teasels - these I edit more carefully, I remove totally from some areas and allow to roam free in others,

Purple orache - every seed germinates, every single seed

Woad, gorgeous plant woad, seeds around like the devil though,

Annual poppies, welsh or somniferum in particular, I remove many and yet always have enough,
and Claytonia sibirica, well I think that's what it is anyway.  In truth I didn't plant this one, it was planted by someone else.  It is quite pretty but very prolific.  It self seeds everywhere and whilst easy to spot and remove there is something about it that I don't like.  There's something about it that's a bit weird, it has a smell I don't like and I don't like the very watery stems.  I'm told its a sort of salad, this might explain the dislike, I don't do salad. 
So I dig it up

It creates space.
Good job I've learned my lesson and not sown any ransoms lately.........

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A cold and chilly plant fair (or two.....)

It was remarkably cold, windy and at times rainy on Sunday.  This was in some ways a shame as I was going to a plant fair, yet in other ways not a shame as it meant I was not really losing a garden day by being out for the day.  So, trusty side-kick in toe, off we we went eastward ho!

So, first stop, Swines Meadow Farm Nursery in Market Deeping to see my friends Colin and Karan.  When I last visited there a few weeks ago I came home with a rather nice hydrangea and a rather large ginger cat called Bruce,  Bruce is adorable.  I was also looking for a ornamental quince and something a little different from the crimson and gold ones I already have as small, not yet perfectly formed, hedge.  They did not have any at that time but Karan promised to look out for something for me.
Good as her word, this is Chaenomeles x superba 'Cameo', it has a lovely pale peach flower.  The words 'lovely' and 'pale peach' do not often go together in my world, but this time they do.
I think it is rather fab.

I have also been steadily buying ferns over the last year or so and they have a nice range at the nursery, so I came away with:
Osmunda regalis Purpurescans, I love its large unfurly leaves.

Next to leap into my hands was Onoclea sensibilis,
which does look a very sensible fern to me, again I like its airy nature and also the wonderful red stems.
The stems are worthy of a closer look.  These two ferns are now happily planted in my bog garden, which has so many ferns in it now (at least five) I think I might rename it the fernery, in that pretentious way that things get named above their station.
Finally I bought this, Peltoboykinia watanabei (what a great name), I have seen this plant before and bought one long ago in a previous garden just to see it die rather swiftly.  This time I feel more hopeful as the top end of the Wild Garden is quite shady and moist and think (hope) ideal conditions.

We will see.

So that was that, we chatted a while, wandered a while and ended up in another greenhouse at which point this jumped up and demanded to be bought:
Iris confusa, the bamboo iris, I chose one not yet in flower so that it would more easily get home in one piece and so that I have joys yet to come.  I apparently chose one that came with a free lincolnshire snail, what a lucky buy! Its like I don't have enough snails of my own.........  I'm sure it was hiding.

So we began to wend our way home, when my chauffeur said 'shall we stop off at the fair at the botanic garden?', well it seemed rude not to.

This resulted in a final purchase:
Yes, this rather young and lovely trillium.  A trillium you say? but did you not state quite clearly that in terms of your garden you are better off just burying the money in the ground?  Yes, yes I did, and I have recently bought and sown some trillium seeds that will probably take a year to even germinate.

This trillium was not costly and it was so pretty,
that I thought I would give it a go. I will let you know how it gets on.

So, we got home with a bootful of booty.  What I have forgotten to mention are the two trays of plants that arrived with the chauffeur:
The season of sharing spares and plant swapping has begun, I think I have rather a lot of planting to do.