The Garden in March

March has been a month of ‘everyweather’.  From the first half of the month with torrential rainstorms, low temperatures and high winds, to the last week of beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies.  Still chilly though and still breezy.

The sunnier weather this last week has meant we have started on the many jobs there are to do in the new garden.  Last month I posted a picture of the new shed –  it’s now filled with all the gardening tools and equipment that had been stored in the garage. What a difference that has made.

In the long west-facing border the Camellia have been a joy.  Covered in huge pink and red blooms.  I think the pink here is ‘Donation’, the red I’m not sure about but could be ‘Bob Hope’.  Who/whatever they are, they are lovely.  These are towards the middle of the length of the border, there are another two at the northern end (to the left of these) but they are in a bit of a mess with a big variegated photinia and what I think is a pieris growing very closely to them.  They’ll have to be cleared out later on.

 

The biggest job so far has been clearing out an old rose bed directly in front of the deck area.  It had half a dozen very old rose plants in there and it’s taken a week and a lot of hard work to get them out.  Thick roots, matted root fibres – sometimes needing a crowbar and a pick-axe to shift them.  It’s been dug over to two spit depths and a mix of new compost and manure put in.

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 I know the received gardening wisdom says don’t replant roses in ground that they’ve come out of, but I’m going to give it a go.  I hope they will be okay.  The new roses have been planted in large holes with micorrhizal powder on their roots and the holes backfilled with a mixture of well rotted manure and new compost.  The three around the edge are ‘Munstead Wood’ and the one in the middle towards the back is ‘Gertrude Jekyll’.  All from David Austin.

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I’ve also replanted a few clumps of bluebells that were taken out of this bed when we cleared it.  I’ve yet to see if they are our own indigenous bluebells, or if they’re Spanish ones.  If they turn out to be Spanish, they will be rooted out.  Too thuggish.  Later on, I shall put a plant or two of Sisyrinchium in here.  There are lots of small plants growing like weeds around the garden so a couple of the larger ones can come in here.  I love them with roses – the pale foliage, the strappy leaves and those pale, yellow flowers – goes with everything.

There is an area of the garden that in the Estate Agents details was rather grandly called ‘The Woodland Garden’.  In reality it’s a patch of ground under a maple tree with an Eleagnus hedge behind and neglected shrubs around.  There is a dead tree to the right side. On the ground are ferns, bluebells, primroses, Helleborus foetidus, a Fatsia in a pot, and a lot of leaf litter.  It’s crying out for a bit of care and attention, so this will be the next make-over in the garden plan.

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I shall clear out the mess there  and I think Pulmonaria would be nice and some Erythronium, maybe a good-sized Hosta.  I’ve already got a Rosa ‘Albertine’ to ramble its way up the dead tree trunk (eventually).  There’s good dappled shade here and it could be very pretty in the spring.

In a moment of whimsy I bough this ‘garden ornament’.  (You all know how I love a gnome, but I thought I’d branch out a little).  This little chap is now attached to the palm tree.  And although he looks awful close up, from a distance he’s quite life-like.  Well, a bit life-like.  I rather like him.

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The beds we cleared at the front/side of the house in the autumn are likely to be pressed into service as veg beds.  They were intended for some exotic plants and to be a sort of ‘hot’ bed, but there is too much prep to do to make a veg bed in other parts of the garden so needs must.  When we were filling up the shed the seed tin came to light so I shall check out what is still viable and hopefully be able to start some off soon. We’re pretty mild here and I’m hoping I can sow direct into the ground as we don’t have a greenhouse (yet) and very little room inside for seed growing.  As  we can’t get out to the Garden Centre, there’s also no seed compost.

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This is our first Spring in this garden and we have loved seeing things start to grow over the last few weeks.  So many lovely little surprises, daffodils, muscari, iris and primroses dotted all over the garden. Blessings.

That’s it for March. The clocks are forward this weekend and there will be lighter evenings and increasing temperatures.  April should see quite a lot of progress.  Enjoy your garden if you have one.  Stay at home, stay safe and well and look forward to better times.

If you like this blog, you might like my garden/countryside journal.  You can find it at the top of this page on the Core Edge Journal tab.  Don’t forget to follow the blog if you enjoy it and get an email message every time I post an update.

The O.G.

 

 

 

 

6 – on – Saturday 28.03.20

Good morning all.  What a week this has been – lovely warm sunshine, a real feeling of spring, and the first week of staying at home in pretty serious terms.  But let’s stick with the garden and six things in it today.

Number One is this vibrant, in-your-face Cistus.  Just coming into flower, although there has been the odd bloom all through the winter, it’s a very old shrub and is looking frail.  Yesterday I took a few softwood cuttings to see if I can get some new plants out of it.

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Number Two are 36 red geraniums.  They arrived in the post on Friday, the teeniest, tiniest plug plants you have ever seen.  Potted up straight away, three to a pot, I hope they will grow away and provide a bit of colour this season and a lot more colour next season.

Number Three is a periwinkle (Vinca).  In such bright sunlight it looks quite pale but it is, in fact, a lovely mid-blue with gorgeous whirly, windmill-like petals.  It can be quite invasive so I’m keeping my eye on it, but it’s doing a lovely job of underplanting a Choisyia at the moment.

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Number Four is that rose bed I spoke about last week.  Cleared, roots removed, soil renewed and manured, new roses planted.  Now I know you should never plant roses where roses have been before, but I’ve worked hard on this bed and I’m hoping they will be OK.  They’ve gone into big planting holes with mycorrhizal pellets and backfilled with a mix of compost and well-rotted manure.  Over the weekend they’ll get a feed too.  Oh, and there some bluebells in that bed too.  I took them out…and I put them back in.

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Number 5 are violets.  No more needs to be said.  Tiny and perfectly beautiful.

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And finally, here is the Amelanchier, just beginning to open its hundreds of starry, white flowers in the sun with the cloudless blue sky behind.  Tonight the clocks will go forward and it really will be spring.

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And remember, folks – Wash Your Hands.  Practise Social Distancing.  Stay At Home.  Be Safe.  Have a lovely gardening weekend, wherever you are.

If you enjoy my 6 on Saturday you might like my wildlife/countryside blog too.  It’s accessible from the Core Edge Journal tab at the top of the blog.

Readers who are new to 6 – on – Saturday can join in easily – If you want to get a glimpse of lovely gardens from across the world, and chat to lots of lovely gardeners, then go here https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/  and join in!!

The O.G.

Week 22nd March 2020

22nd March – Clear blue skies and sunshine all day.  A cool wind in the middle of the day but it didn’t last long.  The sound of lawn mowers – a sure sign of spring!  A robin helping in the garden and a Peacock butterfly on the wing.  If it wasn’t for that blasted virus, all would seem well in my world.

23rd March – As over-60s and with underlying health conditions, me and Mr OG are confining ourselves to the house and garden but I shall keep posting here, even though what I can post about will be limited to house and garden.  Do keep yourselves safe and if you’re not in essential employment – do STAY HOME.  Difficult times ahead.

24th March – The garden becomes our main means of exercise, of fresh air and of usefully spending our time.  The Bumblebees are out in force, I’ve set myself the goal of trying to identify as many different types in the garden as possible. Today a Queen Buff-tail and a Queen Red-tail.  The Buff-tail on the Coronilla and the Red on Berberis flowers. Two Zantedeschia planted, but oh, the ground is so full of roots it took forever to clear a space.

25th March – Anther lovely day.  A little warmer too.  A lot of garden birds calling now, Chaffinch females twittering busily and the male with an occasional ‘pink, pink’, a Wren has started to complain loudly – unseen but most definitely heard, and this morning for the first time from the garden, that little bird that sings its own name ‘Chiffchaff,  Chiffchaff’ so insistently.  The Green Woodpecker has been back too, dropping into the amelanchier tree and announcing its arrival with three rapid and very loud calls.  Almost like yelping.

26th March –  5th day in ‘stay-at-home’ mode.  More beautiful weather so some people can at least be outside in their gardens.  We have been clearing out an old rose bed and refreshing the soil so that we can put new roses in.  (I know, that’s really not recommended, but we’re going to try).  It has taken us four days to clear the bed and shift some of the old soil and replace with new compost.  The new roses have gone into large planting holes, with mycorrhizal granules to help root development, and then backfilled with a compost and well-rotted manure mix.  Thank goodness for the garden.

27th March –  There is a pair of Greenfinches visiting the garden, the male making that drawn-out ‘tooth-sucking’ sort of noise, ‘tzeeeew’.  In our old garden we rarely saw Greenfinches, so they’re a treat for us here.  I hope they find somewhere to nest. The Goldfinches seem to be investigating the yew column.  It would be great to have nesting birds in our first spring here.  The continuing sunshine is such a benefit under current circumstances. UK death rates are rising and London hospitals coming under increasing pressure.  There was a ‘Clap for Carers’ thing last night at 8pm.  Standing outside we heard loud  applause in our neighbourhood.  Very sobering.  

But the sun keeps rising and the lawn needs cutting and the birds are singing.  And we’re well and thankful for it.

And thank goodness for social media.  Remember, we may be socially distanced, but we don’t have to be socially disconnected.  Check out the other pages on here – there will be the weekly 6 – on – Saturday tomorrow with six pictures of something, anything from the garden, and this weekend there will also be the monthly post of this month in the garden.  If you want to make a comment please do and I will reply.  I look at these pages many times a day so do check in.  I’ll be back on Sunday with next week’s Core Edge Journal.  Stay safe.

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6 – on – Saturday 21.3.2020

‘Morning everyone.  Sunny here, but a darned cold, strong easterly wind blowing, so it’s a bit chilly.  Anyhow, not too chilly to get 6 pictures for you, but too chilly for this old girl to spend much time in the garden.

First up: the David Austin roses I succumbed to, not long after I saw that the ‘Gator had bought some last week.  From left to right – Gertrude Jekyll, Albertine, and 3 Munstead Wood.  They should get into bed early next week.  That’s a whacking great agapanthus behind right.  Leaves all through winter.

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Next: These muscari.  I have included them because they have seeded themselves opportunistically all over the garden.  These are between flower bed and paving stones in the front garden and they are are also all along the hedge bottom and in cracks in the paving.  So much nicer than planted in a clump in what – at this time of year – is an empty looking expanse of bare soil.  More joyful, somehow.

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Number three is new growth on the apple tree.  It’s still in its pot from when we moved last year but I’m hoping to get it in the ground soon.  At least it has survived!  It’s Red Windsor.

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Here is a clematis that badly needs tying up.  I’ve no idea what it is.  It was brown and crisp when we moved in last autumn and I cut it back to soil level in the winter.  I’m pleased to say it’s growing away quite vigorously and I just need to give it a bit of support until it reaches the trellis attached to the front of the house.

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Remember when I asked if anyone could identify this foliage?  They’re teeny tiny species tulips.  Sorry for the poor pic but it’s scarcely getting its head above ground.  If they all flower it should be a mass of bright red soon.  You’ll get a pic!

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Finally, these lovely anemones.  They came free with my spring bulb order from Bloms last autumn.  I just pushed them into a bit of spare soil outside the kitchen window and voilà – up they came.  Isn’t nature wonderful?

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So that’s my six for today.  We’ve had the equinox – it’s officially spring!

And remember, folks – Wash Your Hands.  Practise Social Distancing.  Stay At Home.  Be Safe.  Have a cheerful, sunshiny weekend, wherever you are.

If you enjoy my 6 on Saturday you might like my wildlife/countryside blog too.  It’s accessible from the Core Edge Journal tab at the top of the blog.

Readers who are new to 6 – on – Saturday can join in easily – If you want to get a glimpse of lovely gardens from across the world, and chat to lots of lovely gardeners, then go here https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/  and join in!!

The O. G.

Week 15th March 2020

I am trying a new type of blog post.  More of a weekly journal and without pictures.  Just some notes on the countryside and the garden and the wildlife.   I shall still do 6 on Saturday and a monthly round up In The Garden.  Feedback on this new post would be helpful say, at the end of March? Thank you.

The week’s outdoor notes:

15th March –  A crow is eyeing up the cherry tree, inspecting it closely.  It clearly isn’t satisfactory as he moves on to the amelanchier.  That’s better, lots of fine twiggy growth at the ends of branches.  Deftly, he breaks off smaller twigs and flies off with them, returning again and again for a few more.  I hope he doesn’t tell his friends about the ready supply of nesting material.  I’ve seen crows take fallen twigs from the garden before, but I’ve never seen them manipulate and break them off the tree.  Clever things, corvids.

16th March –  A Brimstone butterfly flutters around us as we walk on the Killerton Estate today.  Not resting long enough for a photograph,  its acid yellow wings are unmistakeable.  Brimstones are one of the very earliest signs of Spring and the wing colour of the male is thought to have influenced the naming of ‘butter’ flies.  It loves early nectar, and lays its eggs on Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn.

17th March – Really cold today.  Even though we are seriously self-distancing we take our regular walk from the cliff-top down along the Esplanade and back.  It gives us about 5000 steps and is really essential to keeping up a bit of exercise.  It also helps to remind us that the world keeps turning, the sun keeps rising and the sea keeps pounding the shore – life goes on. We keep clear of other people and take our own coffee and snack.

19th March – Today I joined theSelf-Isolating Bird Club. It has a Twitter account @SIBirdClub and it links with the BTO website and their Birdtrack project.  Sign up to the website, join theBirdtrack project and when you record birds in the garden you can tweet your record out using the @SIBirdClub handle and/or hashtag.  It means you can watch the birds in the garden and participate in Citizen Science at the same time as being confined indoors!

20th March – Sunny but a cold easterly blowing.  Our usual walk today (see above). Resting on a sheltered bench overlooking the sea we watch two cormorants flying purposefully west to east, just above the waves.  They land on the rock island breakwaters for a few minutes and spread their wings in that typically cormorant way, then they’re off again.

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6 – on – Saturday 14.03.20

A very quick 6 from me this week.

Everywhere, there is yellow.  Cheerful, bright, sunshiny yellow.  Forsythia, Primrose, Coronilla, Euphorbia, Daffodils and Broom.  Feast your eyes and feed your soul.  Spring is on her way.

And remember, folks – Wash Your Hands.  Practise Social Distancing.  Stay At Home.  Be Safe.  Have a cheerful, sunshiny weekend, wherever you are.

If you enjoy my 6 on Saturday you might like my wildlife/countryside blog too.  It’s accessible from the Core Edge Journal tab at the top of the blog.

Readers who are new to 6 – on – Saturday can join in easily – If you want to get a glimpse of lovely gardens from across the world, and chat to lots of lovely gardeners, then go here https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/  and join in!!

 

The O.G.

 

 

 

Week 8th March 2020

I am trying a new type of blog post.  More of a weekly journal and without pictures.  Just some notes on the countryside and the garden and the wildlife.   I shall still do 6 on Saturday and a monthly round up In The Garden.  Feedback on this new post would be helpful say, at the end of March? Thank you.

The week’s outdoor notes:

8th March – The gulls have come back to nest on the rooftops.  Instead of flying through from the fields down to the shore, four have taken up residence on two nearby roofs.  They are Herring gull, big and mean-looking.  Their pink legs and red beak-spot easily visible through binoculars.  Noisy and messy, I’m only glad they haven’t chosen our roof.

9th March – Usually heard rather than seen, the Green Woodpecker swoops and glides its way over the garden.  Today it stopped to investigate a shallow hole in the trunk of the cabbage palm tree.  The bird looks exotic for an English garden; big, about 30 – 34 cms, beautiful olive green feathers on the upper parts and a paler almost buff colour below, a yellow rump and a red crown.  The bill is strong and long and pointed like all woodpecker species that breed in the UK.  It could do some damage to our palm if it likes the look of it, but the palm is healthy and the hole just a depression, and Woody prefers dead wood to excavate for a nesting site.  After a few minutes of close inspection, it is gone, laughing its way across the valley.

 ‘The green woodpecker flying up and down With wings of mellow green and speckled crown’    John Clare*

10th March – Low cloud.  The damp mist hugging the wood at the top of Trow Hill, leaving shape-shifting, smokey trails on the slopes.  The air is wet.  The wood shows no sign of Spring from this distance, still black and grey, but it won’t be long before there is the fuzziness of early shoots and then the creeping green.

11th March – A visit to Bicton Gardens, always a treat, always something to see.  Today it is Magnolia, Camellia and early Rhododendron in bloom.  There are Canada Geese, Mallard, Tufted duck and Gadwall on the lake.  A pair of Mute Swan seem serenely unpeturbed by the flapping and splashing of the Mallard drakes as they bully the females.  A pair of Common Gulls have commandeered the top of the fountain in the large pond and the calls of crows, rooks and jackdaws are everywhere.

12th March – Cold and very blustery.  The ground is still very wet.  There is a landslip on the western beach, the Coastguard is out examining it.

13th March – Cold and showery.  Five new rose plants arrive from David Austin.  Need a couple of dry days to get the bed prepared.

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