End of Month – April 2013

May already? Well, summer is almost here! And I’m counting the days until I go to Portugal… I don’t think a day passes at work when I don’t mention it; as much as I love my colleagues I really REALLY need a holiday.

Since the weather has become warmer I can’t believe the difference in the garden. I know I’ve been harking about this for seemingly weeks but it almost feels like a miracle. When in fact I know that we’re behind last year, so why does it feel so amazing that things are growing?

I think it’s a result of it being so cold, for so long. And I’m so incredibly grateful that it’s warm, sunny and bright now (if a little windy, but shush).

My opinion is somewhat mixed on the front garden. Drumstick Primula have come on well considering they were divisions from a couple of pots bought cheap last year. I’ve also recently added Primula ‘bullyana’ to the border which are actually for my mum and when they’re large enough I’ll divide them and give some to her. She loves the Candelabras but dad being his wonderfully useful self has ‘weeded’ them out of the garden over the years. My plan is to supply her with newbies from my own Primulas as and when theirs ‘disappear’.

Front Garden

The window border looks to have lost quite a lot of Muscari with the only ones blooming this year are those I planted in autumn towards the back of the border and subsequently half hidden by the much larger Daffodils – but I can easily see them from the window, which let’s face it is the primary position I look at the garden from. I’m impressed though with the Daffodil show this year and had forgotten that I’d ordered some ‘poached egg’ daffs in autumn (feature post to come on them).
Lady’s Mantle and Astilbes are slow coming up this year, hence the strange gaping holes in the border…

Front Garden

Moving round the house to the back garden (ignoring the side), we arrive at the ‘right’ border. There’s no real identity to this border because there’s so much in there. During April it’s the Magnolia border, then in May it’s the Allium border and later in the year it’s the Erysimums… It’s such a large space and the slope it’s on its misleading as it’s actually quite large.
Towards the bottom of the border (near the house) it’s mainly Alliums. I lost the Bird’s Foot Trefoil in winter sadly but over the years the Alliums have seeded and it now looks like there’s lots of grass, when in fact they’re all 2/3 year old Allium seedlings which I think will likely bloom next year if left to mature further. I need to pull some out though to add some grasses for interest later in the year once the Alliums have died away but for now this lower end looks incredibly busy. But remember the Fritillaria, Daffs, Muscari, Crocus and Snowdrop leaves will all die back, leaving almost no interest later in the year. I think I might also have lost the Veronicas down this end; I need to look closely, but they should have plenty of growth by now and be close to blooming! All the Verbena Bonariensis were lost in this border too – a big one can be seen almost in the centre of the shot.

Right Border

I bought two more Erysimum to replace the two lost over winter, these are far smaller than my large mature plants so I’ve planted a few wildflowers around them to bulk it up a little. I’ve also been tidying the border ready for a nice layer of mulch/fine bark to go down.
The Tulips are awe inspiring. I cannot believe any have come back after the wet summer last year. I even have blooms on some! Most seem to be the frilly whites, but I think I might have one of the blacks too. All seem to be lost in the Aster border though.

Right Border

Moving to the order end of the decking and we meet the Buddleja border, the thorn in my side for the past 5 years. Nothing ever seems to work. I’ve tried shade lovers, hot dry lovers, inbetweeners… nothing. The only thing that seems to do really, really well are the chives and Geranium Thurstonianum. But then this Geranium is a brute and will grow anywhere and take over the world (can be seen to the very lower left of the shot blurred). I planted some Agapanthus last year as this border gets very dry thanks to the Buddleja and the top is very hot as it’s full sun most of the day in summer. However they seem to have died in the snow *sigh*. Back to the drawing board.

Buddleja Border

I seem to have forgotten to mention the Aster border… So we’ll move onto the tier and the cherry border… this really is a spring border, however the Geraniums will help to keep interest going throughout the year and into Autumn even if it is just for their leaves. Last year this area became a jungle and really thrived in the rain, this year it’s looking good and I’m quite happy so far. I’m concerned Geranium ‘Herb Robert’ will attempt to take over again as it’s seeded everywhere so I’ll have to be vigilant to keep it under control.
Every year I struggle with the slope on the border, and planted quite a few Bluebells in autumn and recently added some Foxgloves too. I’ve tried all sorts here before; ajuga for example but that too seems to have died in the snow. There are some small Aubrieta, but really I need something to keep the soil in place as it gets washed down as you’d expect.

Cherry Border

Finally the upper tier – well there isn’t much going on up here, I need to tidy it, cut things back and add a fresh layer of bark. However the Shasta Daisies, Asters, Geraniums and Aconitums are coming up and once I clear away the old growth will look much nicer.

Upper Tier

Copyright 2013 Liz.
All rights reserved. Content created by Liz for Gwirrel’s Garden.


15 thoughts on “End of Month – April 2013

  1. Don’t give up on your Agapanthus yet, mine have only just come through, they are still really tiny and you’d miss them if you didn’t search for them. You have such a lot going on at the moment and plenty for later in the year. The plants are shooting up and so are the weeds, what a busy, busy time it will be!

    • Hi Pauline,

      I do hope the agapanthus pop up, but all look very, very dead… Oh well, I’ll hold out and see if anything happens.
      Here I don’t tend to suffer too heavily with weeds, but yes they are coming up and I’ve been pulling quite a few. Thankfully it’s a relatively easy job compared to my parent’s where it’s never ending! I don’t understand how they can have so many compared to me. Just need to plant the last plants suffering in pots and then hopefully I’m done for the year… Well I might move some Stipa from the Aster border, but that isn’t yet decided.

  2. My Agapanthus has also only been coming through for a week or two, and that’s in the greenhouse where I overwintered it in its pot, outside I’m sure it would be hiding still. I’m hoping to put its offspring into the borders to take their chances once they are a little bigger.
    You have lots of pretty pips of spring colour.

    • Hi,

      Hrmmm, I’ll wait a little longer although they do look totally dead – just stumps with no sign at all of life when normally I’d expect at least some leaves. One of them I’ve had for years and it’s always been left outside, but normally it doesn’t stay as cold for so long. They can cope with snow, just not two months of snow and cold though. But we’ll see, I’m hopeful they’ll come back.

  3. What about Sedum, Stipa, Eryngium, Nepeta, Phlomis or the likes for your Buddleja border? They cope very well -and lots of others do- with difficult conditions as long as it’s sunny and well-drained. Have a nice day!

    • Hi,

      I did consider trying some Stipa, I have it in most other areas of the garden. I’ve tried Sedum and Eryngium but the problem I forgot to mention is the Buddleja… It not only takes all the water but also casts deep shade across the border in summer. So it become a hot, dry but shady border. Then once the Buddleja has bloomed I cut back a lot of the branches, opening it up again. So basically the plants there need to be really hardy and in general shade lovers like wet conditions, or the dry sun lovers don’t like the shade for 2/3 months over summer until I cut back the Buddleja.
      When I had the Sea Holly there it ends up leaning heavily toward the sun, as do the Asters. So yes, grass might be the way to go and it has late season interest.

      • There are a lot of shade lovers that cope and appreciate dry/drier conditions, e.g. some ferns like Polystichum, Asplenium, perennials like Brunnera, Geranium nodosum/phaeum, Iris foetidissima (var.citrina is lovely too), Tellima, Liriope to name just a few…;) I have grown all of them in half-shade or shade and find they’re very adaptable.

  4. It’s good to read your positivety – I’m kind of in the same place! Your borders are filling up nicely and here’s hoping you can find something else to try in your Buddleja borders. I don’t have enough knowledge to suggest something that will survive in those conditions. Best of luck with what ever you choose!

    • Hi Angie,

      I think really I should just fill it with Geraniums, but I want somewhere for my Forget-Me-Nots and they usually go here. Lupins seem to do well in this border too, however I lost my nice mature one this winter; it was such a beautiful colour… I’m upset actually! But I can always buy another, but I’ll wait until I move. So for now the border will be a little less interesting than normal.
      I’ve tried ferns, but it’s too hot/dry/sunny at times of year when the Buddleja isn’t casting shade. So they do OK in early spring and summer but after than struggle. Same with the Mecanopsis; the area just isn’t shady/damp enough for them.

  5. I, too, feel like a vacation. I hope you have a wonderful time. Walking around the garden at this time of year is always so pleasant because most things are flourishing as they open up for that birth of spring. I wish it could all stay that way through the hot and dry summer.

  6. Everything is popping up in your garden too, and so quickly! I love your drumstick primulas and I agree with Pauline about the agapanthus, be patient, winter has been long and some plant are very cautious.

  7. Portugal sounds good, guaranteed warmth, though the past couple of days have been bare feet and T shirt weather here, almost summery, though still very cold over night so still not chance to get tomatoes in to the greenhouse. Your buddleja border sounds like a real challenge, I’ve never had to cope with dry shade, but tellima is lovely, as are lots of Annettes suggestions. Good luck! You have lots of lovely colour though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if your agapanthus did come back, my ferns are still not really putting up new growth, apart from the largest, and I can’t see those tough thugs having bought it however cold it got. Everything is so late this year, we’re only just starting to get leaves on the hawthorn, no signs of blossom yet.

    • Hi Janet,

      I’m actually on the verge of almost saying I want to cancel the holiday – Benfica have just got through to the Europa cup final and they play when we’re away. No big deal right? Well, not unless you have a passive-aggressive OH who will spend the two days before the match snarling and being short with you, then lord help me on the day of the game. I think I’ll be going round Lisbon on my own rather than spending any time with him. It’s not worth the stress to be near him. He’s telling me we can go out and watch it at night… Oh no, no, no. I won’t be within the same room as him when they play. Not.a.chance.
      I’ve jut hidden upstairs well away from him, doing some cycling while they played in the quarter final and that was enough for me.

      I’m actually really upset now.

      But yes, it’s been beautiful for the past week or two now and still I’m putting off mowing the lawn! Haha. It really looks awful now and needs it. I’ll feel much better once I do it, but I want to relax in the evenings not get hot and sweaty pushing a lawn mower around 🙂
      That’s my excuse anyway.

      Thing is; that border is only hot dry shade for a couple of months, then it becomes full sun when I cut back the Buddleja to just a few branches so I can hang bird feeders from it in winter. (and of course in sping like now it’s full sun too).

      We’ve had Hawthorn leaves for about two weeks now, no blossom on the Hawthorn either but some cherries are out.

      • Oh Liz, sorry about the footie problems. I’m a Liverpool fan and get so stressed out watching us play that I have to hide behind a book or my tablet, or sometimes even a cushion. I hope for your sake they win and OH is all smiles, not surprised you are not looking forward to being cooped up with him in the build up. Don’t let it spoil your holiday, leave him to his own devices and find some beautful wild places to photograph in peace until it is all over!

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