It would be very easy to take a despondent tone at this time of year. Cold, drab days and a certain browness to the garden can cause the gardening sap to sink. The garden has other ideas though and regardless of the gardener the plants just get on with it. This week’s six shows signs of progress as well as the need for some jobs to be started.
First, one of my occasional moans about the local wildlife. It’s usually the fox but it could be the fat Persian cat that wobbles through every now and then, either way something has taken a branch out of the beautifully rounded daphne, leaving me with a hole in the middle.
Then a job to be done. I got ahead with the pruning of the grape vine because the pergola is becoming unsteady and the plan was to deal with it over winter. Oh how time flies! This week I noticed that one leg of the pergola has collapsed down a few inches. This is a ‘must do soon’ job. But I shall need to find someone to install a new pergola. No doubt there will be a sucking in of the breath as I am told about the long waiting list I will have to join.
But this is a positive post and it is most definitely cheering to see signs of new growth. The bergenia is in bud.
I hope I am not alone in having one, possibly two, plants that generally get mistreated, left to their own devices, ignored. This is a very old cordyline. Left in a pot for well over twenty years. Poor thing. It doesn’t get protected overwinter, as you can see by the brown leaf ends, and occasionally it leaves a sign to say ‘Don’t forget me’. This year a leader has died away but two new shoots are coming through. Tough love seems to be working.
More signs of growth and a call to action. The new growth on the phlox has started. This is always my cue to deal with the remaining browness of the garden. The temperatures seem to be slowly on the rise which is another encouragement.
Snowdrops and hellebores continue to fill out. I spotted some leaves from the tête-à-tête daffodils and the odd tulip leaf is making an appearance. The primroses bear the promise of spring beautifully: cheerfulness abounds.
Don’t forget to take a peak at all the other SOS gardens. The Propagator holds the keys to the garden gates. All welcome!
There’s not much coming and going from the house at the moment but the garden is constantly busy and the extra time spent at home has meant that I have been taking longer looks at the view. I’ve accepted that the snowberry is going nowhere but I have manged to reel in its sideways expansion and have once again reduced the height. Last week The Nostalgic Gardener was discussing Forsythia with The Prop and whilst I sympatfise whole heartedly with their views I know that mine are here to stay. This week my eyes fell upon the cotoneaster horizontalis. It does give a beautiful display of red berries in the winter but at the moment it is in danger of losing its place to a sarcococca confusa I rashly purchased a month back. I’ve potted on the sarcococca whilst I contemplate the cotoneaster.
The sarcococca has been potted on into the vacant pot left by the planting of this daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ in the border. Poor daphne had been in the pot for about two years and although the guidance is that it is suitable for container growing, once a space in the border became available a move was inevitable. One of the fig trees rotted away at the base of the trunk last year and had to come down. Last week I managed to dig out the last (I hope) of the large roots. Daphne now has a new home and so too does the sarcococca.
The compost corner has been paved. I had forgotten just how much space those towers of two x two slabs took up. The paved area looks better suited to a performance space, a garden dance floor perhaps? But no, the bins have been reconstructed and now I have the job of refilling them. The extra space around the bins will come in useful, most immediately it has been dubbed ‘covid conversation corner’ as this is an ideal meeting place for a socially distanced chat with adjoining neighbours.
Speaking of neighbours, there was some sad gardening news last weekend. The glorious willow tree in next door’s garden has to come down. The increasing lean and lack of leaf signalled a problem and the upshot of an inspection was that the tree is predominantly dead. It has been propped up until work to take the tree down can be started. Sad times, but that does mean new opportunities for the neighbours and perhaps for me. It might make a corner of this garden less shady.
A new arrival to this garden came on Friday. The impulsively ordered arch has been delivered. Even in pieces it looks lovely. I hope to be able to put in place this weekend.
The fritillaries have also arrived. These are on my list to look out for in the next autumn end of season bulb sales, but I may order a few in August to be sure I have more next year. The arrival of fritillaries is often swiftly followed by red lily beetles. Time to be vigilant and this year I am going to try Grazer’s Lily Beetle protection. It is to be used before the nasties are sighted so that is a job to do this weekend.
Sunshine was another, albeit brief, arrival this week and the spring flowers shone. I couldn’t choose which one to include so here they all are. The first tulip – ‘World Friendship’, the first thalia, and the first cowslips. The cowslips are self-seeders relocated from elsewhere in the garden. Filling out the garden for free is one of gardening’s great joys.
As always there is more joy to be found at the aforementioned Prop’s site where all the links to other SOS posts can be found in the comments sections. Also a good place for gardening chat
I only went for compost, honest. But that Daphne had been on the wish list for a while.
Daphne Eternal Fragrance. I had resisted buying this all year on the grounds that I wasn’t sure I had the right spot for it. But there it was on the bench in front of me with a label that said suitable for containers. I’ll find a space for it soon.
I have moved the scented leaf pelagoniums into the potting shed and taken a few cuttings for insurance. That meant two summer containers were sitting empty. There in front of me was a tray of winter pansies.
Recently added to the wish list was Brunnera macrocephala ‘Jack Frost’. Described as good for shade and for ground cover, I thought it would be ideal for under the snowberry tree. These were lurking just around the corner from the pansies. Speaking of lurkers – do the slugs like brunnera?
I was almost at the exit point when I spotted the pots of Gaultheria Procumbens ‘Big Berry’. I’ve had these in winter window boxes before with some ivy. The red berries are usually plentiful.
I had to walk back to the beaming cashier past the bulb section and remembered just in time that I needed to top up the alliums and fritillaries.
I count myself as quite restrained – I can’t give you a full six from the garden centre purchases! My last for this week is something that is giving me cause for concern. These Liriope muscari ‘big blue’ went into the garden in autumn 2016 and have not flowered once. The RHS site promises ‘small violet-purple flowers carried in dense, erect spikes to 30cm in height in autumn, followed by black berries.’ To quote our esteemed leader ‘Nothing, nada, zilch.’ Any suggestions?
For more pithy observations from the leader visit The Propagator. You’ll find much to inform and amuse plus a list of links to SOSs from gardens around the world. Happy gardening.