Six on Saturday: snowdrops before the storm

Ciara is heading our way and it sounds pretty bad. I’ll be lifting all the pots down to the ground and finally getting round to picking up a few empty flower pots that always seem to lurk in the corners. The week has had a cold and frosty appearance and the beautiful blue skies tempted me out to the Hertfordshire countryside to view a snowdrop garden. I have one exciting non-snowdrop jewel from my garden but the other five are from the gardens at Benington Lordship.

One

I am always over-excited by the first flowers from any new planting in the garden and this week the newly planted Iris reticulata bulbs opened out.  I chose a single variety – J S Dijt and once again realise I should have bought many, many more.  The colour is stunning.  Allegedly there is a scent but so far I cannot vouch for that.

Two

Now on to the snowdrops. First, galanthus ‘Primrose Warburg’.  I completely fell for this one and if there had been any pots of these for sale I would probably have paid whatever the price was.  Online nursery price is £25 per pot.

Three

Galanthus elwesii ‘Comet’.  Retails at £20 per bulb.  But oh so pretty.

Four

Galanthus plicatus ‘Diggory’ Retails at £25 per bulb. Very distinctive with its textured petals  and curved shape.  Lovely.

Five

Galanthus  elwesii Jessica. Pretty green markings on the inner leaves.  Retail price £20.

Six

Galanthus Wasp. A snowdrop with such long slender petals deserve a more beautiful name but there it is.  The green inner markings are not quite visible but an internet search reveals them to be quite intricate.  Price £20.

My visit to Benington Lordship was a mid week treat and I felt like I was truanting but I could so I did and it was well worth it.  There were hellebores and aconites too and in a week or so I am sure there will more spring bulbs on view. The garden is open now until 1st of March but not on Sunday 9th February due to the weather warnings.

More from my garden next week and more from other gardens this week by visiting The Propagator for his cheery update and the links to other SOS posts.  Batten down the hatches and stay safe.

Six On Saturday: Something old, something borrowed, something blue

The bulbs are popping up all over the place.  A ring of tete a tete around the persimmon tree, thalia in the front garden, and signs that the tulips planted a few years ago are still willing to have a go. Today the sun is shining and once again that promise of spring is in the air. Here’s my six for the first week of February.

One

Something borrowed and something blue in the same photo.  The blue is the wonderfully uplifting sky.  The borrowed is the winter flowering honeysuckle from my neighbour’s garden.  The scent from it wafted over last weekend as I relocated a blackcurrant bush.  Yes, I have finally done my first bit of real gardening for the year.  The heady perfume was an unexpected and very welcome treat.

Two

Something new are these alliums.  This year I am trying out allium nigrum.  After a few years of growing Mount Everest I decided to add these into the mix.  The Mount Everest have a habit of disappearing for me.  Possibly due to the heavy clay soil.  I’ll see if these fare any better.

Three

Something old.  The north border has a wall that runs along its length.  At the bottom end it is about 30cms high climbing upwards to the top end where it is about a metre high.  It’s a higgledy-piggledy mixture of  all sorts and not very attractive.  At the bottom end I am persuading the ivy to entwine around itself along the wall rather than out into the very tempting lawn.  Or back into the borders.  Ivy twining patrol is a regular task but I am gradually achieving my aim.

Four

Further along the wall the moss is doing a grand job of covering the stones.

Five

I’ve not starting sowing seeds this year but the autumn sowing of ammi visnaga is coming along nicely.  I have a plan to under-plant the wild black berries with these.  Isn’t it wonderful how brilliant these ideas look in the imagination.   We’ll see.

Six

For February I have to include snowdrops.  Many gardens will be holding snowdrop days this month.  The NGS offers a list of gardens open for snowdrops and I hope to find one near me that I can visit.

Yes, gradually the gardening sap is rising, a gentle limbering up is called for and new inspiration propels me onward.  More inspiration will be found at Mr P’s site.  Links, comments and general good gardening cheer for all.

Six On Saturday: Part daydreams, part jobs to do

I had one last family gathering last weekend before the Christmas and New Year jollities were over and so it is only now that I come to thinking about the New Year in the garden. There are more signs that things are waking up. the first tips of bulbs are pushing through and the roses are shooting. There must be a cold snap to come but so far it continues to be gloomy and mild. A brief spell of sunshine enticed me out to finish planting the very last of the cowslips and I generously potted on some ammi seedlings that were destined  for the compost heap. My six for the week includes jobs to done  and the first of the late winter/early spring flowers.  It may still be winter but my thinking time is spent on plans for the summer.

One 

This is the first snowdrop to appear under the apple trees.  A very cheering sight but also a reminder that I didn’t plant enough here.  I was beaten back by the roots of the apple tree.  I have learnt my lesson on the need for quantity though and have ordered 300 snowdrops to add to the north border to give some early interest.  I hope that does it.

Two

The grape vine over the pergola needs the old grapes removed and its winter prune, something that mustn’t be left too late.  This is a well established vine but it never quite makes it to producing edible grapes.  There are a reasonable number of bunches but just as they ripen they shrivel up.  Even the birds turned their beaks up at them.  I am going to love bomb it this year with regular watering and seaweed extract feeds.

Three

This is the straggle of passion flower stems that clothes the arch.  I may have mentioned this before but as yet it still on the list: my job is to cut these down and try to dig out the roots.  The arch doesn’t have much going for it at the height of summer and I am hoping that a move to the traditional combination of roses and clematis will provide a more attractive view.

Four 

 

The hellebores are coming through now.  This is a hybrid bought from the Finchley Horticultural Society plant sale last year.  I have just order some more  hellebores, taking advantage of seasonal reductions – it is so hard to resist.

Five

This double hellebore, tucked away in a far corner of the garden,  is a favourite.  It is always a treat to find it in flower again.

Six

Celandines, yes but more importantly an empty space.  The celandines are making a land grab but, having cleared out a small self seeded hornbeam, they will be moved on again as the space is designated as the new home for a sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’.  A smaller growing  version that I hope will fit into the narrow border.  The celandines will be dug out but never eradicated.  I have come to accept them and they are a sure sign that the season is moving on.

Almost mid January, almost mid winter, we are on the trajectory to spring.  The seed tin has been opened and the dreams of summer are beginning.   I’ve started thinking about seed potatoes and whether or not this is the year to add some grasses to the borders.  Enjoy your garden daydreams and follow those of other sixers at The Propagator a great blog to read and where the links to other sixes are listed.

Six On Saturday: How does your asparagus grow?

It has been a very cold week here with heavy frosts and snow on Thursday evening. February has arrived and plans for the year to come are gathering pace.  Seeds have been delivered and also, unexpectedly, asparagus crowns.

One

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I ordered them on the understanding that despatch would be in February for planting out in March.  They arrived a few days ago during the coldest spell of the winter.  Much as I prefer to stay in the warm at these times I did plant out 125 snowdrops on a very sleety day in February a few years ago, I have form for gardening in the winter.  This time I feel misled.  I registered my concerns with the supplier who assures me that the majority of UK asparagus can now be planted any time over winter when the ground is not frozen.  But my ground is frozen.  I am therefore advised to store them temporarily with a covering of dry sand or compost which stops them drying out completely.  This I have done.  I now have my fingers very much crossed.  Wish me luck.  The supplier will be updating their website and I could be digging trenches this weekend.

 

Two

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As February has arrived I feel it is time to show a snow drop or two.  As mentioned, I did have fun planting these!  I planted them at the base of the fruit trees in the garden.  One hundred and twenty five snowdrops do not go very far but they do take a long time to plant.  I was hoping they would naturalise and spread themselves out into the empty spaces, but it looks as though that is going to take some time and I am sure that if I count them up I would be noting some as AWOL. Having said that they do look good in the snow.

Three

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A view of one section of the soft fruit beds in the snow and more evidence of winter gardening madness.  Last weekend I decided it was time to cut back the autumn fruiting raspberries.  It was a sunny morning and I was lured outside.  I failed to factor in the wind chill – it was freezing but I pushed on.  Once the secateurs were in action it was hard not to stop and the gooseberries also got some attention.  They succumbed to a sawfly attack last year so I focused on opening up the middle of each bush.   I still have the blackcurrants to do, they are budding up already.

Four

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Whilst stowing the asparagus crowns in the greenhouse I checked in on the overwintering pelagoniums.  They seem to be looking okay.  This is the first time I’ve tried overwintering and the gardening fingers are crossed for them too.

Five

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The delightful builder was very industrious when he visited recently and used up the wood left over from facing the breeze block walls of a raised bed to spruce up the large water storage tank.  I’d always thought it was an ugly thing but it was functional.  However I had coffee with my neighbour recently and realised she had a perfect sight line from her window direct to the water tank.  It was not a pretty sight.   I am pleased the left over wood got used up and perhaps the Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ that is hiding under the snow will be more inclined to creep up the sides now.

Six

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Lastly some variegated box capped with snow.  Plain and simple.  It forms one end of a hedge line separating the garden from the veg plot.

Interesting times these, for the SOS crowd.  What is going on in their gardens or in their gardening minds?  Mr P’s site will have all the answers.  It may be February but there will be much to discover.  Share your experiences too – here’s a participant guide.

 

Six on Saturday

After a few weeks away from these posts and the garden there is much to be done.  No time for looking back on past successes and inevitably remembering all that didn’t get done.  Here’s what is happening in my garden now.

One

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The first buds on the Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii have appeared.  I planted four as 9cm pots in Autumn 2016 and so this is the first flowering year.  Although one of the four is still suffering from an unknown malaise, possibly too wet a position, the other three are romping away and giving me the beginning of a structure to the new border.

Two

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This is Hellebore Happy Day.  I bought this from a market stall, seduced by the discounted price.  On doing some research I discovered that it is a Hellebore Niger which has been specially developed for early flowering, mainly from October to December.  I can confirm that it was early to flower and I am interested to see how long it keeps going. It is providing a good splash of brightness in the winter gloom.

Three

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Not yet in flower are these snowdrops.  These are also part of the new garden planting.  This time last year I dug out a good sized rectangle of grass around the fruit trees and on a cold and sleety day I planted about 100 snowdrops in the green along one edge of each of them.  In retrospect I should have planted greater numbers to create a bigger impact.  I will review them when they flower this year – one for a future six.

Four

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Getting to know a new garden is a long term process.  Understanding which parts dry out soonest, which stay wet and soggy and which are the sunny corners takes several years.  This osteospermum is a division of an existing plant that I moved in the summer.  It was probably the wrong time to move it, but the parent plant was very leggy and I was trying to weed around it.  Parts of the plant broke off as I tried to disentangle it.  With a gardener’s optimism I dug a hole in a sunny corner and planted the divisions.  I now know that the sunny corner is also very sheltered as the osteospermum has continued to flower through the winter.  Now I need to see what else will enjoy that spot.

Five

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Here’s a view of one corner of the veg patch.  The last of the parsnips have been pulled and eaten.  I grew Tender and True from seed planted in late April.  The other beds were for Carrots Nantes 2, Cucumber,  Onions and Shallots.  The cardboarded raised bed was for courgettes and sweet peas.  The far bed was the cut flower patch, which will host potatoes this year.  I’m a semi planner.  I won’t be doing multi coloured charts but I will rotate crops and I will be planting more varieties this year.  There may be a pencil plan in a notebook but I think that will be it!  I will share the progress here.

Six

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Saving the best for last, this morning I collected my new Niwaki herbaceous sickle from the post office.  I can’t wait to use it.  The borders are in need of a tidy but this morning we had the first frost for many weeks and I shouldn’t be walking on the frosted grass.  I can do along the paths and maybe there will be time when the frost has melted.  I came across this tool in Thomas Stone’s blog   Christmas gift ideas for the gardener in your life.  I am sure I am going to be tempted by more of Thomas’ suggestions.  Christmas may be over but the gardening carries on!

I hope you have some time to enjoy your garden or allotment this weekend. Thanks to The Propagator for hosting the wonderful Six on Saturday.  Read his blog posts and all the other Six on Saturday posts from around the world at The Propagator my plant obsession