‘The frost is all over, thank god.’ It definitely isn’t true (we have to wait until the Saints de Glace, May 11th to 13th to be sure), but that’s the way it feels this weekend. Have a listen to The Chieftans playing a great Irish jig by that name, which I’m feeling in my bones at the moment.
Unfortunately, it is now, with the frost all over, the season to work non-stop. There seem to be so many weeks (of rain or snow) during winter when I can’t get the most basic things done. So it’s a bit ‘full on’ from February to June when it gets too hot to work in the garden except early mornings.
1 A birthday party this month! The hedges in the Hornbeam Gardens were planted five years ago in February. In a way I like the open look that you can see here in April 2015, after the February planting of the hornbeams (invisible in the picture – the big sticky-up things are hazel props for my peas).
But I have a really special enclosed garden now – I let a lot of things self-seed. Verbena bonariensis is particularly happy – and the staple is grasses, particularly Stipa gigantea, although there are others. Last summer there were comma butterflies (strangely rare here) enjoying the Verbena and (too many) self-sown Knautia macedonica. Previously there was nothing but scrubby grass. Now, it’s a bit of a wildlife haven – although there are unwelcome visitors too, such as voles that recently gobbled a large patch of Tulipa ‘Lilac Beauty’ – some left, thank goodness. I like to just see what happens. But sometimes it hurts.
2 Willows not being used as intended. Quite a few years ago I ordered woody cuttings of willows from a nursery in Britain (World of Willow, now not an option for me, but I highly recommend them). I lost one or two (actually one of my favourites, S. irrorata, as well as beautiful bright orange ‘Yelverton’), but others do well. Here, Salix alba x fragilis ‘Golden Yellow’, I think.
I had grand plans to have various willow sculptures and rabbits hopping across lawns (there are quite a few more varieties planted), but I’ve never got there. It would be good to cut this in February 2021 and actually DO something with it!
3 Winter aconites. Meant to get a photograph of them full open, sorry. A friend near here has them self-seeding everywhere. Haven’t quite got to that stage, but looking at his garden I am still hoping.
4 Primroses whipped round the ears, but coming back into play, after serious flattening by the snow and frost. They love it here, and I will never be able to control their self-seeding – or understand how a plant that loves damp conditions can be so happy in my summer-dry garden! A lesson: if it’s wet in spring and you have alkaline soil, never mind the summer, primroses will be happy.
5 Another snowdrop. This is Galanthus plicatus ‘Warham’. Reportedly found in a garden in Warham, England, but believed to have been brought back from the Crimea by British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. Apparently one of the most misnamed snowdrops around, so mine may not be the real McCoy. But it does exceptionally well, increasing year on year, in this incredibly dry, hot summer garden. The picture is of a nicely bulking up group of transplants that went in in 2017, I think.
And in the garden …
Final snowdrop news … my new arrivals standing tall in the greenhouse, prior to planting out …
6 One of my favourite Euphorbias … try it! Euphorbia x martinii can’t really be beat. It’s only coming into its own now. Stop back later for the full effect. I remember this as a plant I struggled to keep in my Suffolk garden – it always got mildew and grew poorly. Strangely, here it has thrived for about 6 years. I guess dry summer conditions suit it better.
Have a wonderful week and go and see the other ‘sixers’ selections at The Propagator’s blog.
And apologies to those I didn’t visit or reply to last week … I flopped!