“Oh, spring is surely coming,
Her couriers fill the air;
Each morn are new arrivals,
Each night her ways prepare;
I scent her fragrant garments,
Her foot is on the stair.”
~ John Burroughs from ‘I hear the wild geese honking’
Spring was late this year. In March we had two unlikely falls of snow, unheard of in this part of Cornwall and the heaviest for four decades in the county. I knew instinctively that this did not bode well for my more tender plants and indeed my losses include the Geranium maderense; several half-hardy fuchsias; two osteospermum (the orange and the purple); an orange arctotis; a variegated Erysimium which was probably past its best anyway; several succulents including a new one only bought last June; a terracotta coloured Achillea, an old lavender and most of the ‘baby’s tears’ or ‘mind-your-own-business (Helxine soleirolii ) that covered the small woodland walled border.
Time to take stock.
The woodland border is looking better due to the extra miniature narcissus I planted in the autumn, namely ‘Rip van Winkle’ and ‘Minnow’ and ‘ Segovia’ along with ‘Glory of the Snow’ (Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue’) which adds some much needed colour and brightness to the border. Several primula which were planted last spring after being used as bedding plants in the tulip pots have, much to my surprise, established themselves and are flowering pretty much all year round. They are a little ragged looking due to the nibbles from the S&S, but hopefully their numbers have been hit by the unusual weather. The Pulmonaria which I tackled last year, cutting back most of the blackened foliage, grew anew and is looking good. The pretty delicate blue flowers riding above the spotted leaves. All the ferns in the wall and border were blackened and I have just removed all the old leaves to reveal new fronds. My Hellebore niger suffered, but has since sprung back and several seedlings which I planted when I first moved in are now showing signs of growth, I am hoping they might flower next year. I also split and planted several Heuchera along this border and they too are slowly growing and a ‘Bleeding Heart’ (Dicentra spectabilis now reclassed as Lamprocapnos spectabilis) has been moved from a container in the front courtyard into this border and it appears to be growing well. The Anthemis daisy plant which smothered much of the wall last year sadly also fell foul to the weather, though it is a hardy little beast and cuttings take easily so I do have more smaller plants growing and in bud. And the hardy geraniums along this border are definitely hardy. I have just planted several new ones in the style of the famous gardener Margery Fish who once said, “if in doubt plant a Geranium” in the hope that they act as a weed suppressant.
And after pruning the two Goat Willow trees close to the patio, the light that has let in to the border has enabled several clematis to produce new growth. I am crossing my fingers that the honeysuckle and clematis along the fence flower well this year after a disappointing show last year. The final additions to this border were several plantings of Common Bugle (Ajuga reptans ) ‘burgundy glow’ which I put in last autumn and which were immediately snacked on. They do appear to be making a comeback though and I am encouraging them to spread across any bare earth to try and block out all the weeds that seem to land here.
Elsewhere in the garden little has changed, other than holes waiting to be filled with new plants in May. I have just noticed that my hardy fuchsia, which I also believed lost, is sprouting new shoots from the ground, so I shall wait a while longer before removing any of the others (just-in-case). Several large grasses have been removed, with some effort I can tell you, because they were taking over. I like grasses in a garden as I like the movement in the wind, but thugs I don’t need. And next month I shall be planting some Salvias and new Osteospermum – this time the hardy variety!
Final touches to the garden this month has seen the addition of some snowdrops and aconites under the Kilmarnock Willow tree, planting of some sweetpeas and clearance of the lawn from around the additional raised beds used at the moment for summer annuals and winter salad and baby spinach which I must say kept us in greens all through the winter time.
So what have I learned so far about this garden?
- the soil is very heavy though not clay
- the soil is rich and holds moisture
- bog plants grow well here
- slugs and snails (S&S) are pests
- direct seed sowing doesn’t always germinate
- kale and radishes grow well in summer; winter salad leaves and spinach in winter
- new plants need protection from things that eat them
- Mediterranean plants do better in the sunny rock wall (little soil, easy drainage)
- native plants are good for bees and butterflies
Next month I am hoping to clear my raised beds and re-create one as a white garden and the other with edible and aromatherapy herbs. And finish gravelling around my gravel garden. Tomatoes and chillies are having a break this year as I want to replace the conservatory roof and I don’t want to be having to move loads of pots about. And after a visit to the Japanese Garden I am secretly coveting one or two Japanese Acers to put into containers for the courtyard garden.
Your garden is so pretty, Jude and hopefully some of the plants who didn’t like the snow will recover well. I do love your woodland border.
There is a huge barn the other side of the fence along that ‘woodland’ border which is why it is mostly in the shade. Now it receives sun in the evening which is nice.
What a wonderful creation! I love your woodland border, your facility with names (isn’t mind-your-own-business a beauty?), and your stocktake and plans. I’m always in awe of people who make gardens.
My whole garden is a woodland really, though there is a side which gets the full sun during the summer months (when we get sun that is) and where I have created my gravel garden. I think I now know what to plant and where! Only taken me two years!
It’d take me a lifetime!
You have different talents. Your writing for one.
You’re very kind
I’m very honest.
Whoa, that’s a lot of plans for one summer girl!
The raised beds won’t take much as they will be ready to go once the forget-me-nots finish doing their thing. I don’t like to disturb them whilst in flower. The courtyard will be done over time, once I empty pots currently hosting tulips I shall move them to the front and then plant when I find an appropriate flower / shrub. The gravel bit just require me to actually buy the stuff! And anyway, I have nothing better to do 😀
A great round up of the month Jude. Oh dear such a lot of losses due to the weather, but at least you now have some new empty areas to play with. I do like your stone wall and gravel garden and like the gallery with the names of the areas superimposed on the photos, very clever…Like Meg, I am in awe of your name remembering. I used to know names, when I was president of a garden club for a while. But those memories are now long gone.
I spent a lot of time working out what all the plants are in this garden Pauline. Still a mystery tree to ID. I shall give it its own post and see if anyone knows what it is.
Do you write them all down?
I took photos each month of the same spots and as things appeared I looked them up – so much in this garden is wild flowers so not really grown in a garden before (by me), but the bees and butterflies love a lot of them so I am happy to allow them to stay.
That is a very good idea. When we moved in here it had been a rental for years and all lawns apart from a couple of golden cane palms that we kept and about 8 very messy cocos palms that we had cut down. So it was a clean slate to work with
A clean slate is good. Then you know everything that goes into the garden and can design as you want not someone else’s ideas.
Only thing was I got a lot of unnamed plants from the garden club sales table plus some that I did know I have since forgotten ☹️…..
Oh, well, it’s fun to see what emerges and you have some lovely plants in your garden, named or not.
You lucky person you owning such a place of beauty!!
A very small place of beauty, but thank you!
Big isn’t always better 😉
True. And it is big enough to keep me busy!
Exactly you smart woman 🙂
How’s things doing in CT? Any sign of rain yet?
Nowhere near enough but twice last week 🙂 and about 35mm in total I think so the garden has had a really good soaking. Pool is still very empty but what we had was very, very welcome. Here’s hoping fpor more and lots of it 🙂
If only I could send you some of ours in exchange for some prolonged sunshine. Back to showers again today.
It would be a great exchange 🙂 🙂
I always learn something new from your gardening pieces. Today it was ‘when in doubt, plant geraniums’. As soon as I figure out what a geranium is, I’ll be enlisting their help in this year’s garden 😉
I was out cleaning up the yard earlier this week and discovered plants starting to come back to life. It is always such an exciting discovery in the spring. We’ve had a few days of warm temperatures and everything is starting to explode quickly. If I didn’t have my eyes to see it, my allergies are certainly telling the story 😏
… and yes, those tall grasses are thugs. I have my eye on another one in our backyard which will be my next victim. They are lovely … until they decide to organize a coup of the entire garden.
So glad that your temperatures are finally on the rise Jo. It’s amazing how fast things come on and very exciting to see what emerges from the brown.
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