Tuesday, 31 March 2015

March goes out like a lion ...


March can be cold beers in the summerhouse, or howling winds, and there have been precious few cold beers drunk this month ! The winds today have been strong enough to blow lorries and trees over, causing the bridges over the Rivers Humber and Ouse to be closed at the same time, making travel around our region difficult.

This March has been a cold, grey month which seems to have slowed down the ticking of the time bomb which is spring. To be honest, it feels as of nothing much is happening in the garden at the moment. Yes, there are patches of welcome colour from bulbs, pulmonaria, hellebores etc, but the stalwarts of the spring garden, Flowering Currant and Kerria Japonica  remain in tight bud, whilst the Forsythia has only opened its flowers over the last couple of days . There are some small benefits to this cold month, however, such as very little weed and grass growth, but spring is definitely dawdling along and dragging her heels.

Polyanthus 'Gold Lace'
Even the seeds grown in the warmth of the propagator and conservatory seem to be slow to germinate and to grow, perhaps due to lower light levels than usual? I'm not sure. Sad soul that I am, I have kept a journal every day for the past thirty years, and each year I record the first day I see the leaves of the Hawthorn unfurling, and the first day there is frog spawn in the pond. Both these events are two to three weeks later than they were last year.


Despite the lack of plant - action in the garden so far this season, we have not been idle. Today we were out in torrential rain planting thirty bare root beech hedging whips. Not pleasant conditions to work in, but essential, as the whips had been sitting in a bucket of water for three days since they were delivered. The area had to be cleared of ivy and debris before we could start planting the new boundary hedge and we also replaced five dead plants from hedging we planted last year.


Life is slowly returning to the ponds, but the water is still icy cold and boiling with frogs, which have laid many clumps of spawn in the shallows. Some marginals are beginning to grow, and the Marsh Marigolds are now in bud. Cowslips are flowering at the pond side  but there are no primroses yet in evidence.




The moss... erm ... grass is a bright technicolour green at the moment, and will need patches of re-seeding when the weather warms up, due to wear and tear.

The veg plots are all dug over, in readiness for planting when the soil warms up. Folk lore has it that Lincolnshire farmers used to test the soil temperature, in readiness for planting potatoes, by taking down their trousers and sitting down on the ground, on their bare bottoms! If it felt cold then it was still too early to plant ! Not a custom I think we will be reviving!


The leaves on the raspberry canes are just beginning to open.


The sub tropical garden is always late into growth, but the early signs are good that everything has made it through the winter. The Eucalyptus Gunii, moved in the autumn, has survived, and is coming into leaf, and the Tetrapanax looks as though it has weathered all the storms. Because we have had such a mild winter, we do not appear to have lost any of the more tender plants, that have overwintered in the greenhouse, or been protected in situ.





The Gunnera is just beginning to wake up and put out relatively small new leaves, which will become enormous as the season progresses.

There is new growth on all the roses, which is most welcome, and it began much earlier in the year. All have been pruned recently. The rose photographed has a beautiful red edge to every leaf (wish I could remember which one it is!).


I have planted up a new bed, since we had a large prostrate conifer taken out at the end of last year. It has been a pleasure to have a new space to fill, rather than having to shoehorn new plants in to existing beds. I have planted roses 'Boule de Neige' and 'Absolutely Fabulous'; Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'; Digitalis Illumination 'Raspberry; Hellebores 'Christmas Carol', 'Rose Green' and 'Joel' and I will fill in any gaps with annuals later in the year. I intend to shape the self seeded,  double stemmed holly into a single stemmed, formal ball.  



Other beds are showing some colour and new growth, especially from some perennials like delphiniums and Aconitum. I always think Aconitum gives real value for money as it is one of the first perennials to show, yet it is one of the last to flower, and then to disappear.



Auriculas , sempervivums and Tete a Tete daffodils

Farina Auricula 'Nigel' , now budding

Dark blue hyacinths and Tete a Tete daffodils
The greenhouses are full to bursting at the moment, and we are in the process of sourcing some cold frames to relieve the pressure. Both are unheated so anything requiring warmth is kept in the conservatory - which is also fit to burst! The cold greenhouses are housing potted up dahlias, various newly planted perennial bare roots (including day lilies, irises, Echinacea, Kniphofia, Gypsophila ), and newly rooted rose cuttings. From collected seed I am growing perennial sweet peas, annual sweet peas, Ligularia, Agapanthus, Hosta, Helichrysum  as well as lots of overwintering Penstemon cuttings. Although things are growing they do not seem to be growing away very strongly at the moment.

First true leaves appearing on Ligularia seedlings
Clematis Armandii is in full flower, as our pots of bulbs such as hyacinths, daffodils, Snake's Head Fritillary and primroses. I have some of the Thompson & Morgan doubles, and they are gorgeous, as well as the double 'Miss Indigo' (see blog header photo).

Clematis Armandii

Double primrose 'Pink Ice'
In the conservatory are lots of seeds and seedlings. The dahlias ('Giant Hybrids' and 'Bishop's Children') are doing well, but others, like Coleus are sulking quietly. I am also growing about half a dozen varieties of tomatoes and chillies; peppers; aubergines; bananas (don't ask!); Melianthus Major; Tithonia; Zinnia; Cosmos; Nasturtium ('African Queen').



This post is part of the 'End of the month view' meme, hosted by Helen , over at  The Patient Gardener, so do take a little trip over there !





40 comments:

  1. I think you're right. Spring does seem later this year. Not just me then! Your red edged rose foliage is gorgeous!

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    1. That is interesting, Jessica, as I didn't know it our late spring was very localised or not.
      I will have to go out and locate that rose foliage so that I can give it a name! It is irritating me to not know which one it is!

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  2. It was such a wet and windy welcome to BST wasn't it? And spring seems slightly behind buy even so it seems there's so much activity going on in your garden. Roll on spring :)

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    1. Hi Mark & Gaz, have you started putting your stabled plants out to pasture yet ? We are keeping all ours as they are for now and not taking any chances, even though the greenhouse is full to capacity. We don't want to risk anything. You are so much further south though, so it may be different for you ?

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  3. I thought March came in like a Lion but it was only a cub compared to how it is going out!
    It is always interesting to read what is flowering in other bloggers gardens, Kerria is flowering here in Worcestershire.
    Your green house sounds very productive.

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    1. Hi Brian, I agree, it is always interesting to know what is happening in other gardens, both in the uk and around the globe. Kerria is just beginning to come out now, but I saw a forsythia hedge today which was still in bud. We are very late this year!

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  4. I believe that you are ensuring that spring WILL arrive :) It all looks very nice and green from here, of course; all that burgeoning growth is wonderful, and I certainly admire your skill in propagating all those plants. I must learn...! PS That polyanthus is to die for...!

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    1. Hi Amy, yes, I love 'Miss Indigo', she is one of my favourites. I really enjoy the propagation side of gardening, and get real satisfaction from seeds and cuttings etc. I think the thing is that there is never much at stake if things go wrong - it's only the cost of a packet of seeds at worst!

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  5. March went out like a lamb for us here in the middle U.S. today, but we're still behind you. Your garden looks fresh and green and colorful!

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    1. Glad you are experiencing gentler weather! I have just taken the dogs for a walk and the wind was still very high and cut like a knife!

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  6. Dear Jane, even though you write that March this year was a relatively cold month for you and plant growth is slow, to me your garden looks like it is exploding into spring. All the very intense "British green" (is there a color with the name?) makes me almost giddy with joy. It appears so different from our "dry, arid climate green".
    I love the blue and pink/lavender colored primroses from this post! And all the daffodils are so cheerful. Spring might have come slow to your garden, but judging from you photos it is definitively there.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post! Thanks!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Hi Christina, thank you for your comments. Sadly I think the 'British Green' (now an official colour, I think!!) is mainly due to moss rather than grass in my garden! It is so vivid though, and is only really this shade at this time of year.
      Spring has sprung, I guess, but I just wish we could have a bit of gentle sunshine to go with it!

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  7. At least you have proper records to prove whether spring is later or not, I just have my hunches - and the lack of photos of anybody in the hammock... Wonderful to have a new bed to play with, shaping up well. I love your sweep of mossy grass with clumps of daffodils, and am full of admiration at how neat all your grass looks. Mine is still distinctly shaggy... Where do you source your bare rooted perennials? I'd love to grow more like that.

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    1. Hi Janet, the neat grass is down to a diligent partner, keen to give it its first haircut of the season!
      I buy lots from the internet, and I know that T & M have an offer on now for 72 perennial plug plants with big savings. Unwins and Mr Fothergills do bare root, and van Muewen (cheaper sister company of T & M) often do.

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  8. Indeed spring is far behind compared to last year, here also about two to three weeks and the weather at this moment and yesterday and the day before yesterday: awful, storm, rain, hail and in between some sunshine. Yesterday I have sown some annuals, the seeds I sowed last month are germinated but grow so slowwwww.
    Your garden was a surprise, so unusual but interesting and nice that sub-tropical garden, your Clematis armandii is beautiful, here it died three years ago during a cold winter. You also have some wonderful Primulas and I saw some Auriculas too on your etagere and table, very promising.
    Wish you happy gardening!

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    1. Hi Janneke , I was interested to read that Spring is slow with you too, and that you too have had storms and strong winds. You did spot Auriculas, and I have lots of them, just budding now. I know people have very mixed views on them, as they are a bit stiff and formal, but I adore them. Do you have them too?

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  9. Things are very late this year, I love the look of your pond. Hopefully soon the roaring will cease, I'd love something similar if we had the space,

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    1. Hi Sue, we were surprised how quickly the pond naturalised and populated. I got sticklebacks from a friend, and there are lots in there now, newts , frogs and toads came almost immediately as did varieties of beetles, leeches, snails etc. Fascinating how that happens!

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  10. The weather may well be rotten but your garden is looking absolutely wonderful Jane. Lush and healthy, it certainly is.
    Very slow here too and to be honest, I'm sick fed up of it now. I've just seen the weather forecast and we've to expect minus 3 tonight, will it ever end.
    New border planting looks great and a nice choice of plants.

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    1. Oh no! Minus 3!! That is really depressing! We just don't seem to be moving at all. I took the dogs today on some open heathland and the wind cut like a knife - it was like January. I am popping over to yours next to see how your garden is faring in this slow old spring!

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  11. So sorry you're having such a cold, late spring. We here in the PNW, in the western U.S., are having the opposite -- a warmer, drier than usual, early spring. So very strange. Even so, your garden looks lovely. The red margin on that rose foliage is fabulous. I've never grown Aconitum, but I got some seed this year and I plan to give them a try.

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    1. Hi Alison, I'm sure you will enjoy your Aconitum. I have never grown it from seed, as I just divide the clumps in the garden, so I don't know how easy it is. It is highly poisonous though!

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  12. Hi Jane, I had a mental picture of you and your hubby sitting bare bottomed on the ground as your neighbors peek over the fence! Such is my weird sense of humor!
    You have so much coming up and your gardens are so inviting! I personally think moss is way better than grass! The Primrose is spectacular....and roses leafing out!
    The frog eggs brought me back to my childhood when we would take them home and check everyday for them to turn into polliwogs.

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    1. Hi FF and thanks for comments! I guess 'Polliwogs' are tadpoles ? I have never heard them called that before !
      Far too cold for anyone's bare bottom to be on display, especially mine!!

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  13. There is a lot going on in your garden, but it is the cheerful daffodils that really catch my eye.
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea

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  14. Hi Lea and thanks for your comments.Daffodils are very hard to beat as they are so reliable and colourful!

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  15. I' m glad you haven' t being testing the soil with your bottom this week with these icy winds. The gales seem to have been all over the country. I hate wind. Spring might be a bit late but your garden looks lovely and goodness, isn' t it tidy. You have so many interesting plants coming on, how exciting.

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  16. Oh Chloris, thermals are back on this week! Spring does seem late - I still have swathes of bare earth with little dots of colour, and I guess the blog focuses on the little dots of colour, so can be a bit misleading as to the overall picture.

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  17. Oh, love to see your beautiful yard and garden with a such beautiful flowers, blooming & colorful...I always dream if I could have a country yard home...so calm & greenish..

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    1. Hi Normala and thank you for your kind comments.

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  18. There's such a lot going on at the moment, it's always a busy time of year. We've had a bit of sunshine here today and it's made such a change from the dull days and howling winds that we've had just recently.

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    1. Hi Jo, we have been the same here, and for the last few hours of the day have had warm sunshine, and no wind. It really felt as if winter was finally behind us !

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  19. I think the moss is lovely. Your primroses are gorgeous. How big is your property? It looks like your beautiful gardens are extensive.

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    1. Hi Sweetbay, we have around half an acre here - I think it looks bigger than it is because it is long and thin (unlike me!!)

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  20. I know it is probably quite chilly but your garden looks like a lovely tropical oasis from where I stand right now. Daffodils and palm trees, oh my! I want to sit at that little iron table set and have a cup of tea. Spring is definitely late coming to my part of the world. March came in like a lion and went out the same way. We are still receiving snow (how is that possible?!?!) while I wait ever so patiently for spring to arrive.

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    1. Oh dear Marguerite, I will try to stop moaning in view of what you have said ! Snow ! I think there would be tears before bedtime in this house! Stay patient and I'm sure you will be rewarded soon!

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  21. We have had the same delayed spring. It snowed on the weekend and my hubby grumbled, "Is this Christmas or Easter?" When spring is slow to arrive however, I think you notice the small things that you might otherwise miss like the red edge on the rose leaf.I love your purple opener and the pretty Polyanthus 'Gold Lace'. Hopefully I too can start some seedlings soon.

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    1. Although our spring was delayed we have had a couple of days of delicious warm sun, and everything is now galloping to catch up, it is really weird! I think you are right though, you do learn to take pleasure in the small changes and really appreciate them!

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  22. Hi Jane ! I love you grow so many different plants and your narrow garden is gorgeous in spring. You don't have roses, yet, but you have a lovely fragrant Clematis :) Greetings from Greece !

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  23. Hi Dani, thank you for your comments. i am waiting patiently for my roses to bloom, as that is the best part of the whole year for me !

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I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...