Spring is sprung, the days are lengthening and plants are getting on with the business of growing. In the garden at Garden House, it’s spring with zing! Purple hyacinths amongst the rhubarb above, and euphorbias below.
And Friday Group have to get on with the business of the Plant Ident.
A firm favourite of Bridge’s – the wild or woodland tulip comes into flower earlier than any other tulip. It naturalises easily and can be relied upon to return every year. The yellow flowers are scented and produced in mid to late spring. For such inexpensive items, the small, shiny bulbs of this species tulip give a disproportionate amount of pleasure. Plant in the autumn in woodland areas, or in troughs or borders, 8-10 cms deep and about 15 cms apart.
Drumstick primulas love moist conditions and prefer a neutral to acidic soil. They flower in spring and can be white, pink, mauve or purple, the flower heads borne on long stems above the leaves. The dense, spherical heads make quite a statement, especially where a number of plants are grown together. Ideal for bog gardens or in a moist soil which doesn’t dry out in the summer. They can be propagated by division after flowering, or from root cuttings taken in the winter (keep in a cool shady place until the cuttings take.) Their roots are a source of gastronomic delight for vine weevil grubs – or, as we refer to them, ‘the eevils’.
The dramatically named snake’s head fritillary has an almost art deco vibe to it, with its white or purple chequered, nodding flower heads. Flowering in April/May, it likes moist soil and a sunny or partially shaded aspect. Perfect for a woodland or wildflower garden. Plant bulbs in the autumn, 10-12 cms deep.
Kerria japonica ‘Golden Guinea’
In the winter, the lovely green stems of kerrias stand out. This early, single-flowered variety is particularly attractive – Bridge prefers it to the more common double-flowered ‘Pleniflora’ type. It should be pruned after flowering, when one in three stems needs to be cut back to ground level. This keeps the shrub in shape, encourages the growth of strong new stems and prolongs its life.
Hellebores are wonderful perennials which can be enjoyed over several months from late winter to early spring. Some are grown for their elegant flowers, whilst others, like Helleborus argutifolius, are appreciated more for their evergreen, architectural foliage – although their refined pale-green flowers are delightful too. These days a wide variety of cultivars are available in colours varying from purple/black through to red, cream, yellow and white fringed with pink. The problem is in choosing which ones to have… never mind the fact that they can also be single-flowered, semi-double and double. They grow best in rich, well-drained soil in part shade with some sun and love a dressing of leaf mould in the autumn. Display flower heads floating in a bowl for complete neighbour envy frenzy.
Jobs for the week:
- Continue to pot on last year’s dahlia tubers. Label and water.
Does Graham know that you’ve got his crate of 1977 vintage port?
- Work on the “yellow bed”; weed and tidy up; plant grasses to add interest.
Euphoric amongst the euphorbias
They just make you smile.
- Map out the plants going into the new border
This needs an expert on the job. Thank goodness we’ve got one.
She knows what she’s doing
Goodness! That’s a lot of plants to get in…..
Well, it’s a metaphor for life, really. One step at a time.
And this is the map of where they all are in the border.
Commit to memory. We’ll be tested on these.
- Continue planting up the new herbaceous border.
Hopefully, there should be at least three of everything. Including the gardeners.
Exactly. Four people, but only three gardeners. That one in the background is only posing. Front left is the mapping expert.
- Sort plants under the apple tree. Re-pot / add compost as necessary
- Seed sowing in the potting shed.
Put newly-sown pots or trays on the heating mat. As soon as the seeds germinate, these should be removed from the mat but still kept under cover to protect from frost. This has the useful effect of slowing the growth of the seedlings. These ones came through very quickly –
- In the greenhouse
Prepare the border for planting. Cut any remaining salad. This is a good time of year to sow mixed salad seeds / mizuna / rocket / mustard / pea shoots. The cut and come again varieties are very tasty.
- Prune cornus (dogwood) and rubus (ornamental bramble) shrubs where established.
Cutting the stems right back will encourage new growth – and the new stems will have the strong colour which provides winter interest. If cornus and rubus plants have only recently been planted, leave them for a couple of years. Some varieties are not very robust (e.g. ‘Midwinter Fire’), so only the oldest stems should be taken out along with a few others – say one in every three shoots altogether. You can try taking cuttings from the pruned material.
Don’t forget to water all plants when planted or potted on. Use rainwater from the water butts, and please refill watering cans ready for the next person to use. The situation will be closely monitored…..
Whilst this, is exquisite….