Friday 6th March 2020

Here we are in March, thus proving that time really is Marching on. Let’s go quickly to the plant ident., averting any chance of further wordplay nonsense.

Plant Ident.

Fritilleria meleagris

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The Snake’s-head Fritillary is such a welcome sight in gardens in the spring, and even more so in orchards and meadows, if your estate runs to that kind of thing. The delicate purple/white chequered flowers are reminiscent of snakeskin – but they also have an Art Deco lamp vibe going on.  Moist soils suit it best – like the orchard at Sissinghurst and the moat/orchard area at Nyetimber. There is a pure white variety too.

Helleborus orientalis ‘Winter Wings’

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The orientalis group of Hellebores are good strong growers, and add greatly to the late winter/early spring garden. Varied and beautiful in their colours and markings, they can be further appreciated by floating some well-chosen flower heads in a bowl of water.  Neighbours, whom we’re always keen to impress, will be blown away by your tasteful exquisiteness.

Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’

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The Garden House view is that the white form of Flowering Currant is preferable to the pink or red forms.  You might say, “Icicles are nicicles”. You might not. An important early source of nectar for insects, it’s a deciduous shrub which, like Forsythia, chronicles the start of the gardening year.  For some, the scent is a reminder of childhood. Perhaps evoking fond memories of losing control on roller skates or falling off a bike and taking a dive into a Flowering Currant hedge. Happy days.

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii ‘Lambrook Gold’

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What an impressive name. This excellent sub-shrub is starting to look wonderful in the garden.  An architectural plant, with fabulous blue-green foliage and zingy yellow/green flowers, good anywhere, but particularly in hot, dry areas.  After flowering, the stems should be cut down to the base to encourage further growth. (Be careful as the sap can be an irritant to skin.)  Effective as a means of pulling a planting scheme together.  The word ‘cohesive’ comes to mind.

Leucojum vernum’Snowflake’

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The spring snowflake is a bulbous perennial with slim, strappy leaves.  White bell-shaped flowers dangle from arching stems, often leading people to confuse the plant with the snowdrop, especially since the tepals are usually tipped with green.  However, it’s later flowering and taller. Likes moist but well-drained soils and looks great when naturalised in bold drifts.

Jobs for the week:

Sort out plants in the cold frame and take some cuttings

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This little lot is Lavendula dentata.  Love the organic dibber… These will go into the greenhouse for a little protection and warmth to encourage rooting.  #welovefreeplants

Pot on hardy annuals

They are running out of energy in their current pots; they look tired, a bit pale and slightly weary. Sounds familiar. Ammi, Centaurea and Papaver seedlings now need the next size up in pots, fresh compost and a dilute seaweed feed.

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Here are a couple of hardy annuals

Divide perennials and re-pot

Use an old carving knife to divide the root ball.

Steady now.  That could be interpreted as threatening behaviour.

These are Heleniums. More importantly, they are free Heleniums

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Pelargonium Palace 

So-called because of those oh-so-regal Pelargoniums. Carefully inspect the plants, water and generally tidy them up. Continue to re-pot Pelargoniums into terracotta pots which are, as everybody knows, much classier.

Sort out plants on the second terrace

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 With gusto

Pond Management

If you are keen on and interested in wildlife, there’s a chance you may end up in the pond.  Blanket weed is living up to its name and needs Dealing With.  Nets at the ready.

Looks a bit fishy

And how big was the one that got away?

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Really?

Plant out Anemone blanda and Irises

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Both plants grow from rhizomes. They’re going to look fantastic. Guaranteed.

Prune the fig tree

It needs to be encouraged to lie trained against the wall.  Take out older wood, dead wood and any small shoots.

Ficus carica before

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and after

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Job done

Prune the Sorbaria sorbifolia tree

The showy False Spiraea has attractive pinnate leaves which exhibit great colouring from their emergence in spring until they fall in late autumn. In summer, white, fluffy panicles of flowers appear. Now is the time to take out the shoots which flowered last year. Take secateurs, a ladder and care.

Collect seeds from Allium thunbergii

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Sow seeds

A variety.  Catananche, Verbascum, Dianthus carthusinorum, Coryopteris tinctoria, Spanish flag, Salpiglossis ‘Black Trumpet’. Tiny seeds need to be sown with a little sand, as this helps to spread the seed out and makes it easier to see where they have been sown.  Fill pots up to the top with compost, strike the loose compost off then tamp down the surface gently before sowing.  Cover tiny seeds with vermiculite; larger seeds can be covered with compost. Water very sparingly and gently.

Plant Galanthus nivalis bulbs

There are some Snowdrop bulbs which need to be planted 5 to a pot for growing on.  Eventually these will be planted out into the garden.

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Plant up containers for spring

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Orange primulas will give an immediate shot of vibrant colour

Clean and return tools to the tool shed

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Tidy up time