It is now April and June will be here soon enough and the garden is still not growing! Well not 100% true some things have started but mostly we are still looking eagerly for daffs to open up when they should be finished by now. But optimism is the way gardeners work as evidenced by the crowds yesterday in the Garden Centre where we went. We thought ‘go on Monday, it will be quieter’; well no such thing – the queue in the café was looping round twice. It had good coffee at an excellent price and home-made cakes and scones – we had a strawberry scone with cream between us as well as some lunch. Mostly it was us oldies there, but also some younger people who had brought the children as they had several children’s activities, including growing Mr Potato Head, and decorating cupcakes. Good thinking! But then every year Ayletts in St Alban’s is nominated as best independent garden centre in England. And wins with great aplomb. It has a wonderful selection of items and huge range of goods including we were amused to see this time, ‘Buy your own Folly’. This was a set of half-ruined walls with windows in a mock medieval style bricks and stone that you could buy all or sections of to place in your garden, rather in the style of the Romantics in 18th century landscaping. Never seen this before. And daren’t ask the price…. In the event, we went to buy stones for our front garden. We have dug up a lot of the plants there so we can make a stone bed in a more Chinese/Japanese style leading down to the pond. They had a great selection of stones and cobbles including some large ones which they are delivering for free next week as our order is of enough value – but much cheaper than we thought it would be! We have ordered a mix of sizes of Borderstone mixed – which come in pale shades of grey through to very pale pinky grey; and a few heather cobbles and small stones to provide some contrast. This will work very well with our red/maroon etc cornus which have not cut fully back this year, just trimmed out the taller stems – around 1/3 per plant. This is so that they will provide a backdrop to the stones. We also came home with some bulbs for summer/autumn flowering (Bessera Elegance)
but which, as they can’t be planted outside until it is 15 degrees or more, will join the other bulbs (Polianthes tuberosas), corms (Begonias) and fuchsia and geranium and…plants on our bedroom windowsills. Had to buy more windowsill trays for this.
Talking to our Yellow Book local co-ordinator who came round on Sunday to drop off our leaflets etc, we were talking about the cornus and realised that if we moved one or two of the smaller plants that have grown themselves – cornus are quite good at propagating themselves – to fill in the gaps, the final hedge could then be woven together. This would look very good with the different coloured stems. Also, it would provide an excellent stand for a herbaceous clematis – of which I hope to have more if the seeds I planted grow! Or I could take a cutting or stem section off the really big one I bought recently from our neighbour. Have to think about colour here… Glad though we have some months until we open – early June for the local community and late June for the Yellow Book. We may have some peonies for early June as the tree peonies are coming through strongly now but as for the herbaceous ones they will be later and whether or not we will get the roses and pink ceanothus is anyone’s guess. It is finally raining today – which the soil is grateful for – I’ve been round and watered pots this past week it has been so dry and with that cold easterly wind and plenty of sunshine even if never warm, things have dried out significantly.
Final comment on the garden – we still don’t have any frogspawn. Our postman has just said he has the first in his pond and we have seen some in shallower and therefore warmer ponds – which then will have got frozen as the temperature dropped below zero for several nights. But our frogs are late. And our newts are not showing themselves either. The only problem with newts is that they eat dragonfly larvae and sometimes tadpoles I believe. So how do you choose? Or do you just let Nature decide?
Also, I thought I might take this as an opportunity to recommend some good gardening books: all reviewed in GardensIllustrated;
How to Create an Eco-Garden by John Walker and published by Aquamarine – good for novices perhaps? but short list of eco-friendly plants. However, i have a list of plants that are bee friendly if anyone wants and Greenpeace have an offer at the moment of items to set up a bee friendly garden including seeds and a guide to bees.
Gardening Vertically by Noemie Vialard and published by WW Norton and Co. Now I like this one as we have a ‘vertical’ garden – and have tried various plants – none very successfully despite the watering system. This year we are going for sedums and such like plus wallenbergia seeing as the latter seems to like growing in our weed prevention fabric! Let’s hope they settle better. At least we can populate from our own plants and not spend a fortune filling it!
The Urban Kitchen Gardener by Tom Moggach and published by Kyle Cathie. Tom also writes about food so he is well placed to talk here and also he writes about how to grow in containers which us urban people often have to do – my veggies are all in containers of various types.
The Gardener’s Perpetual Almanack for today has the Red Polyanthus as its flower and says they can be sown in sheltered places. Also Queen wasps may emerge – we did see a Queen bumble yesterday so maybe…
It quotes from Ralph AustenA Treatise of Fruit-Trees 1653.
‘In the spring of the yeare joy springs afresh in beholding the seeds, and young Grafts and Plants spring forth vigorously and strongly. And the buds and blossomes breathing forth pretious and pleasant Oders, rejoyce and delight the inward and outward senses, promising a plentiful Harvest of Fruits in Autumne; and all the Sommer long joy is cherished, with colle fresh ayres, singing Birds, sight of abundance of Fruits, burd’ning all the Trees, delighting the Eye with their beautifull formes and colours’….
Anyway, coffee time now and then planting!
- Cold weather wreaking havoc on UK Garden Centres (shedforce.com)