Spring seems to be taking its time this year, but nothing deters the intrepid Friday Group other than lack of cake. We were keen to know when dahlias and half-hardy annuals could be planted out, but Bridge urged caution as cold temperatures can be the kiss of death. Plants can start to be hardened off on warmer days, but until all danger of frost is past, it’s better to hold off planting out these tenderlings.
The tulips at Garden House have been looking spectacular, but once they start going over we shall lift them to make room for our next plantings. To keep bulbs from one season to another, you can let their leaves shrivel before lifting them, then remove the leaves, clean the bulbs and lay them in something like a vented mushroom box. This can be kept in airy, cool, dark conditions. Fat, healthy bulbs should be fine until the following November, when they can be planted out again. Some bulbs survive successfully left in the ground, but they need to be planted deeply and in soil which does not get waterlogged.
Plans for the next few months at Garden House include planting a mini prairie garden and growing pink, purple and silver plants for beautiful summer pots.
Our Plant Ident. this Friday consisted of these spring-flowering beauties:
Ficaria verna “Brazen hussy”
Known also as Ranunculus ficaria “Brazen Hussy”, the lesser celandine is closely related to buttercups. It is a tuberous perennial with deep black-bronze leaves which contrast well with its bright yellow flowers borne in spring. Best in full or part shade.
In spring, under the emerging tree canopy, bluebells carpet woodland floors with an spectacularly intense shade of blue. The nodding English bluebell, with its sweet fragrance and narrow bell-shaped flowers with rolled back tips, is not to be confused with the paler Spanish bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica. This is altogether larger, more upright, and has flowers which are rather more conical in shape. Cross breeding with non-native bluebells is one of the main threats to native bluebells.
Related to the primrose, and closely associated with English folklore and tradition, the delicate common cowslip is an early spring flower found in meadows, woodlands and hedgerows. As many of these habitats have been lost or put under pressure due to human intervention, cowslips have suffered a serious decline in their numbers.
Cow parsley is a common British wild plant found flowering on roadsides and hedgerows from spring to summer. It has fern-like leaves and umbels of tiny white flowers. There is a pretty form of cow parsley with deep purple-maroon leaves called Anthriscus sylvestris “Ravenswing” – perfect for a cottage garden scheme. Likes well-drained soil in full sun or dappled shade. A short-lived perennial, it seeds readily.
Preparing for the Fiveways Artists Open Houses month in May
Re-potting hardy annuals; clearing, cleaning and tidying Little Dixter
Planting astrantias and geraniums in the winter bed to provide summer colour.
Planting out pulmonarias and other perennials in “Paul’s bed”
Pricking out seedlings in the greenhouse, ensuring they are centred in the pot
Removing Spanish bluebells, weeding and tidying ready for planting.
All done for another week!