Six On Saturday: Recalibrating Spring

That heading sounds a bit technical but rest assured I am not dipping into mechanics or perhaps I am. The mechanics of growing things. The first of March was eagerly greeted by me as Spring arriving, Winter restlessness and impatience was about to be set free. The weather had other ideas and what a week this one was here. Cold winds, overnight snow, sleety showers and down to minus in the greenhouse again. I chided myself for being so eager and resolved to take 21 March as the Spring starting point. This week new plants arrived for the garden so at least I have something to share. I walked the garden this morning and although there wasn’t much else to feature I could see that nature is really pushing on bringing out new buds on so many of the shrubs and more and more perennials are breaking through the winter mulch. That made me re-think and appreciate that dates are only a guideline and one should always be guided by what’s happening in the garden. Here’s my six for the week.


The first of the new plants. Helleborus argutifolius, or the Corsican hellebore. I saw these last week in a courtyard garden combined with euphorbia. The hellebores were so striking with their serrated edge leaves and pale green flowers, they proved irresistible and I jumped in and ordered three. They are evergreen perennials and grow to a good size so I am hoping they will give some structure to a rather featureless part of the garden.


Having taking the plunge to order plants, gulping a little at the expense, I forged on and ordered three phlomis russeliana . These have been on my wish list for ever. I love their winter look but have always been deterred by the pale yellow flowers in summer. What would I combine them with? I’ve decided that they can have a stretch of the thin border to themselves. The verbena bonariensis self seeds in this area and I think they will work well together.


The tête-à-tête daffodils are a good indicator of how the garden works here. Over on the South facing border, against the wall, they have been open for a couple of weeks. On the opposite, in a slightly West facing border they seem to be on hold. Just waiting for a few more degrees of warmth to make its way to their space.


The euphorbia wulfenii, the last of four that I planted in the garden about five years ago, is looking splendid. The garden was clear about not wanting to accommodate the other three. I lost and replanted them from self seedlings several times over the last three years. Each time they died off. Perhaps the sole survivor is in an area of better drainage. I am quietly trying again with a self-seeder that made itself at home further up the border. It’s sunnier at the end it has chosen and perhaps less susceptible to holding the winter rain.


Chilli seeds have germinated. They broke through about a week ago. They are on a windowsill above a radiator and will stay there for some time to come. I’m not planning to sow anything more for a few weeks.


Finally, here’s a question for you. The Non Gardener has been muttering that the terrace looks like an industrial wasteland. Moss and weeds are flourishing he says. Weeds, I say. No, that’s my self seeded Mexican daisy, with one or two weeds sneaking in. I am offering a half way house and suggesting that the daisy is banished from the central areas and restricted to the corners and edges. Moss, I say, gives a sense of age to what is some kind of concrete imitation of flagstones and it too should stay. Any thoughts?

The SOS gardeners congregate weekly at Jim’s place for chat. Don’t hesitate to join in, it’s a friendly bunch of folk ready to offer advice and share struggles. Happy gardening.

20 thoughts on “Six On Saturday: Recalibrating Spring

  1. I usually tell my non-gardener that if he doesn’t like moss in the cracks of the path, then he’s welcome to scrape it out (then I hide the special scraping the moss out tool and suggest we have a cup of tea to divert his attention). Do the Corsican hellebores come in a range of colours?

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  2. Why would a person not want moss and mexican daisies in the flagstone cracks? I get that my non gardener is annoyed at grass growing between the driveway slabs, but I told him that was his problem as the driveway is clearly not garden. I bought him a little spray bottle of some kind of killzall preparation and it sits in the garage while the grass grows in the driveway. Love the little daffodils! They are so sunny!

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  3. I also like moss and Mexican daisies in the cracks. It gives a patina to the flagstone, something natural. Here too my son asks to clean the stones which are covered with moss. He prefers it to be clean visual… 2 different views of the garden.

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  4. Oh, I am none too keen on vegetation cluttering useful pavement, even if just around the edges. To me, it looks appealing in the picture. However, I know how it can get. We allow Santa Barbara daisy to cover stone walls, but then remove it as it gets shabby through the season. It does not do much afterward until the following season. I think that the old stone walls are visually appealing, but so is the Santa Barbara daisy. We get both at different times of the year.

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  5. On the flagstone cracks, I think it looks pretty as is. There’s another argument you can deploy too: it’s better for your health to have living things on hard surfaces as this creates a healthy microbiome linking directly to your gut microbiome! Landscape architects are busy creating wall surfaces in cities that attract moss and lichen for this very reason.
    I used to have a fabulous Corsican hellebore in my glade, it died very suddenly from a virus and I am still heartbroken! Hope yours do well.

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    • Oh no, no viruses please! It’s a dodgy corner with things going yellow on me for know apparent reason. That would leave me heartbroken too. I’m all for healthy gut microbiomes. Good to have another reason.


  6. My patio is full of the fleabane daisy and other bits and pieces, I usually do keep it clear, but I’m waiting to see how it looks this year. One issue is keeping the algae off so I don’t slip and break my neck! BTW you could have bought Phlomis Tuberosa which has pinkish flowers 😉

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  7. I’m with the ‘keep the moss’ gang, but then you’ve asked a bunch of gardeners – it’s also a ‘saving the planet’ type of thing by allowing plants to grow which is good for the environment. Much healthier than dead concrete alone.

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  8. I think the Mexican daisy sounds wonderful, but I also know that my husband would hate it, so for the sake of marital harmony I would keep it to the edges. Your new plants look really good. You must be pleased with them. I love the thought of the Hellebore in a courtyard.

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