It’s cooled off this week, after last week’s mini heatwave, and has been a bit wet. I took a few snaps in the back garden before reporting on my seedling progress. My ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’ is just coming into flower now which is always a highlight. Behind it you can see my bleeding heart flowering away, and the rosemary.
A bright splash of colour is provided by a yellow wallflower which is just as well as the forsythia was a bit short-lived this year. It came into flower late because of the “Beast from the East” cold snap in March, and then went over quite quickly with all the rain. I have pruned it quite harshly this week so it looks even worse now.
There are bluebells and bergenia flowering on the shady side of the garden. But my bluebells can never compare to the wild ones that carpet our local woods and were at their peak last weekend.
So a germination update: since last week three beans, three cucumbers, two butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and two smoke trees (Cotinus coggygria) have germinated. Yesterday I pricked out 14 Korean mint (Agastache rugosa) and four cranesbill geraniums (mixed unknown varieties). Today I have sown some more tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and purple cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’) as I have not had any luck with the first batch. The wild cow parsley is flowering right now so I don’t think I have much chance of having flowering plants this year.
Today we sowed the potatoes so I’m writing this post mostly to keep track of that date. To recap on my previous post, I am growing Casablanca and International Kidney.
The weather has still been cold and wet; everything is late this year. My forsythia are flowering now and I’m so grateful for their cheery bright yellow. Some blue wood anemones have popped up and the pulmonaria is beginning to flower, but most plants still seem very sleepy.
I have some plans for a bed in the front garden which I started enacting today between rain showers. I am going to have to put the ceanothus out of its misery. (It is a broad-leaved one, Trewithen Blue, I think.) I mentioned last year that it came back from the brink of death a few years ago and since then has been rather misshapen and straggly. It did not appreciate two small dumpings of snow in March just as it was coming out of dormancy. I even went out with a broom to try to brush the snow off but that was too little, too late. It’s still alive but a lot of leaves have died and the flower buds are brown and floppy – I don’t think they will open. So that along with its already bad shape means it needs to go.
Yesterday I bought two Elaeagnus x ebbingei ‘Viveleg’ – one will replace the ceanothus (but slightly further away from the philadelphus which it was too close to) and the other will go on the other side of the philadelphus. They have nice evergreen variegated leaves which I hope will go well with the variegated leaves of the philadelphus but also fill in for its bareness in winter. I look forward to its scented flowers in autumn. I also bought some lavender which will go at the front of the bed, I couldn’t decide which variety to get so bought Munstead and Hidcote to mix it up a bit. I’m going to try using some mycorrhizal fungi when I plant these plants out. I haven’t used it before but it’s supposed to support the root system and help the plant get established more quickly.
Another change in the front is that I decided to put the Christmas box (Sarcococca confusa), that was in a pot in the porch, into the ground right next to the porch. It hasn’t grown very much in the pot and I wondered if it would be happier if it could spread its roots but when I took it out of the pot the root system wasn’t that big and it certainly wasn’t pot bound. I didn’t find any grubs so I don’t think it’s been eaten, maybe it’s just a very slow grower. I also popped some bluey-purple hyacinths, which I’d had indoors, in the ground in front of it.
Lily of the Valley have emerged. Next to them is a crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa) which was getting very leggy with dead-looking thatch underneath which I cut out yesterday. To fill in a bare patch in front of it I divided a bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana) to go in the gap.
Today turned out to be forsythia pruning day. The flowers have almost finished and I was going to wait a bit longer until they had all fallen off but noticed new shoots starting to grow from branches that I was planning to remove. I didn’t want it wasting energy growing something that I was going to remove, and it’s also easier to prune before it’s fully in leaf, so I went ahead and chopped away. The older forsythia in the back garden has been pruned badly in the past, by a previous owner and by me when I didn’t know what I was doing. Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to gradually rejuvenate it by removing old badly shaped branches right down to the bottom. I’m aiming for an open, natural look rather than a tightly clipped hedge. It bugs me when the council butcher forsythia, especially when they do it in the autumn or winter thereby removing the flower buds!
I applied MO Bacter to the lawn this afternoon. Despite its name it is not a rapper but a fertiliser that is also supposed to kill moss. Its NPK is 5-5-20 and it’s the high level of potassium that kills the moss. It also claims to have some Bacillus spp bacteria which digest the dead moss. I used it last year and I still have a mossy lawn so I’m not totally sold on the idea but the lawn needed feeding anyway so I used up the rest of the bag.
I can also report there has been some french bean germination!
Things are starting to come to life! My forsythia are coming into flower now – I have one in the back garden and one propagated from it in the front garden. They are providing some much needed cheer. Another harbinger of spring: I spotted my first brimstone butterfly of the year flutter across the garden yesterday. Not the first butterfly of the year though; I saw a red admiral a couple of weeks ago.
About a month ago I took some lavender cuttings and two of them seem to have taken and are making new green growth. It’s probably not the right time of year to be taking them but my conservatory is warm so I thought I’d give it a go. I also have some baby succulents growing from some leaves that broke off. It’s amazing how easily some plants will root!
Outside I have made up some pots with fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) and grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) which are starting to come out now. I love the chequerboard pattern on the fritillary flowers, and I think the new grape hyacinth inflorescences look like little blue conifer trees!