Tidying up and starting to make plans

This morning it was sunny and warm (well, warm in the sunshine, at least!) and I didn’t have any other plans, so I decided to spend a couple of hours doing the things I’ve been trying to find time for since last month. Mainly starting the annual assault on the sycamore seedlings, along with deadheading daffodils and generally seeing where we are and what we need to do this year.

The good news is that lots of things are emerging, putting on new growth, flowering and so on. We have lots of tulips in pots, and even a few in the ground (mostly at the front), and the spiraea, dicentra and hellebores are continuing to look lovely. We have some gaps, especially in the back garden – as ever, under the lime tree at the bottom of the garden continues to be a problem, and we also have a big gap in the bed next to the greenhouse. At the front, by contrast, things have almost done too well and we are thinking about some serious hacking back. The photinias are both huge and the rhododendron is out of control again, and needs attention. We are also (I may have mentioned this before) going to get rid of the ceanothus. It was tiny when we put it in and now it dominates the garden. While the flowers are pretty and beautifully scented, they are only there for a few weeks each year and the rest of the time it’s almost as much of a black hole as the monkey puzzle tree that preceded it.

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Greenhouse bed – the hypericum needs a haircut

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Opposite the greenhouse – looking pretty full

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In the front garden most things are getting on with it

Lots of tulips:

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First bit of apple blossom

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Dicentra

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Snake’s head fritillaries

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Skimmia

So a big change for the front garden. At the back we are planning some “stepping stones” and possibly an extension of gravel path through the bed by the greenhouse. The dry shade under the lime tree requires a bit more thought. It’s where the lavatera was, but that succumbed in the autumn. I’m not sure I want another lavatera, but I’m also not sure what I do want. On the plus side we have lots of self-seeded foxgloves in that bed now, though.

Yesterday I took Mum to a local nursery – Cramden, they specialise in geraniums and pelargoniums and also have a lot of heuchera and penstemons – and we each bought a few plants. I bought two heuchera and two geraniums; the heuchera will go in pots with rat burials while the geraniums will (I hope) start to fill some of our gaps. I also bought four pelargonium plug plants to go in the troughs at the front once they’ve grown on a bit. This year I’ve gone for a red flower with variegated leaves, which I hope will look good with the cineraria, and the artemisia “Oriental Limelight”.

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And some of my purchases from yesterday – front left is heuchera “Green Spice”, front right heuchera “Georgia Peach”, back left is geranium “Lily Lovell” and back right is another geranium with a very pretty little pink flower but I’m not sure of the variety.

And I haven’t even thought about starting veg and potatoes yet. Oh well – onwards and upwards!

 

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Spring is definitely here

The tulips are starting to flower, for one thing, which always makes me happy. I said this morning that I thought they were early, but looking back we had tulips opening on 31st March 2017 so apparently it’s normal. The new normal, perhaps, with climate change – it has been very mild and sunny the last week or so, though it’s a little cooler today.

The back garden is beginning to look fuller and more colourful:

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I had a little wander round and pulled up a few sycamore seedlings, and realised just how much has suddenly started appearing and flowering, apart from the aforementioned tulips of course.

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Tulip with insect visitor

The snakes-head fritillaries are doing well, despite the attention of lily beetle:

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The dicentra has appeared out of nowhere and started flowering.

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A fairly terrible photo, for which I apologise.

And we have lovely frothy white flowers starting to open on the spiraea.

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Still going strong are the old-fashioned primroses (which are also busy naturalising all over the place).

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The vibrant pink cyclamen:

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And various hellebores – I can’t remember the double-flowered one looking this good before:

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The sambucus has been putting on leaves for a good few weeks now and seems to be getting ready to flower, which will be the first time since we got it (about four years ago I think, but it could be a little longer). So I have to assume it’s reasonably happy where it is now.

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The clocks went forward this weekend so we are all very confused now, but at least the plants seem to know what they’re doing.

 

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More colour

The weather has settled back into a more normal-for-the-time-of-year situation, which is better than the ridiculously warm days we had recently. The usual suspects are putting in an appearance now, and those that have been going for a while are still looking good.

The little prunus has lots of buds, and the first one is opening:SONY DSC

There are little blue and pink patches of pulmonaria everywhere.

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The flowering quince is looking better than last year.

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We have primroses dotted about here and there.

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And the forsythia is finally waking up properly.

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The witch hazel is doing well

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as is the winter honeysuckle.

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The flowering currant has finally decided to flower!

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And the hellebores are as lovely as ever.

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I’m looking forward to the forsythia really getting going, and keeping everything crossed that the little buds on the camellia turn into some beautiful blooms.

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Daffodils at the ready

The first few have just started opening in time for St David’s Day.

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Crocus season

Yesterday I took the afternoon off work to do a few chores, and as it was a lovely sunny day the crocuses were all open and doing their thing, which tempted me out into the garden with a camera. There are some non-crocus photos, though. Not all of these are very good because I had the camera on an inappropriate setting for some of them but when I realised and went back to retake them, then compared the two, in some cases the ones with the “wrong” setting came out slightly better.

Various crocuses in the back garden:

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And lots of naturalised crocuses at the front (please ignore the weeds and dead stuff):

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Also at the front, the troughs under the window have had their best winter display ever, even taking into account the loss of one of the santolinas:

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I particularly like the combination of the purple and white violas with the artemisia “Oriental Limelight”:

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In the back garden, we’re still waiting for the forsythia to do its thing, but the hellebores are doing well, and others are starting to wake up.

Pulmonaria:

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Just the one snowdrop (some of the others are looking a bit nibbled, sadly):

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An early vinca – the recent unseasonal warmth must have persuaded it that it was time to flower:

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Witch hazel has been slow to get going, but at least we have flowers this year:

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And the flowering currant is covered in buds:

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We have vague plans tomorrow to start doing a bit of tidying, maybe go to the garden centre and see what they’ve got to fill in any gaps. The front garden is due a makeover – we have done very little to it the last couple of years and I’m rather dissatisfied with it. We have agreed that after years of sterling service it is time to get rid of the ceanothus, it’s turned into a bit dark blob overshadowing everything else and making it difficult to get colour into the garden – or even to get around the garden, if I’m honest. When it’s in full flower you can’t get past it. Ultimately we will probably lose most of the front garden as we need to create another parking space, but that’s likely to be a job for another year.

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Snow day

So far this winter has been less extreme than last – something of a relief if you’re not keen on snow! Today we woke up to a little snow, less than an inch, and it’s already melting. As we’ve got the day off work I got the chance to take a few quick pictures.

There hasn’t been a lot to report lately which is why I’ve been quiet. Everything is just pottering along, doing its winter thing, or dormant. We are getting a few regular bird visitors – the robin is often about and we seem to have acquired a pair of blue tits. Last weekend was the Big Garden Birdwatch but I had a very poor showing – the robin, one blue tit and a dunnock (briefly). The previous morning we’d had a goldfinch on the nyger seed feeder but when you want them to show up they go and hide!

This morning I made sure there was plenty for them to eat. The fat wood pigeon hoovered up a lot of the mealworms of course but there’s still plenty for others. I got a photo of one birdy footprint while there was still some snow:

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Flowering or starting to flower, we have crocus:

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Witch hazel:

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Winter honeysuckle:

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Hellebores:

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And snowdrops:

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Interestingly the green flowering hellebores that usually do really well are more subdued than usual this year, while the purples are looking good. The snowdrops are just starting to appear which is nice as I thought they’d all vanished. The flowering quince is covered with flowers but they’re all a bit brown and untidy looking so I didn’t take a photo. The flowering currant, forsythia and abelia are all covered in buds so I’m hoping for a good show.

Other parts of the country have had a lot more snow, though nothing as compared to what’s been happening in parts of the US of course, so we’re glad to have got off fairly lightly!

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Onwards into 2019

Soon we’ll be planning what we want to do in the garden this year. High on my list will be container-grown veg – I have our three old recycling crates and plan to use one for lettuce, one for carrots and one for potatoes. I also want to be a bit more organised about the potato planting, as I’ll have three containers for them, so will try to plant at staggered intervals so they’re not all being harvested at the same time.

Otherwise there might have to be some reorganising and maintenance. The fence on one side has suffered in the winter weather but unfortunately it’s not “our” fence, it’s the responsibility of our neighbour, and he is always reluctant to do any maintenance or repairs. So I suspect we will have to patch or tie up loose sections as best we can. Much of it is covered with ivy or Virginia creeper in any case so that helps to keep it from collapsing completely.

The front garden seems to be full of things that have got enormous and need cutting back, while the back has taken longer for big things to get established, but we are getting there. The sambucus, forsythia and witch hazel are all getting bigger and once they put out flowers and/or foliage they look much more impressive. A lot of tidying is needed everywhere, though.

I took a few photos this morning as there are dots of colour here and there, and plenty of things with buds looking promising. Photo quality is a little variable, taken on my phone rather than with the “proper” camera.

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Garlic emerging – nine plants altogether, can’t remember how many I planted now but it was probably about ten or twelve.

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Crocus shoots. An excellent photo where I managed to get the surface of the compost in perfect focus but not the crocus shoots. I’m proud of this.

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Flowering quince – one of the most colourful things in the garden at the moment.

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And a bit closer up. Hoping for fruit this year as we didn’t get any last year.

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Pittosporum doing really well, and with snow-in-summer climbing up through it – this is going to look interesting when the snow-in-summer starts flowering.

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Hellebores starting to look good (foliage is a bit tatty though, must do some tidying!)

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Hellebore in the background, cyclamen in the foreground – the two cyclamen are still here, haven’t managed to kill them yet, but we’ll see.

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Winter honeysuckle, another photo where I wasn’t focused on what I thought I was focused on, but never mind. You get the general impression.

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Mahonia flowers starting to go over now, but they have been lovely. The birds will enjoy the berries.

And things with buds on, for which I can only hope the frosts don’t get them:

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Sambucus

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Camellia (with a tantalising hint of colour)

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Prunus

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Forsythia

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Witch hazel

Happy New Year!

 

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