Much has been made of the long winter and with that and a north facing garden, this year my gardening has been off to a slow start. I missed making anything of the brief spell of good weather last month as we were prepping for work in the conservatory, which we later discovered would be delayed. But the good news is, the gardening has started and both of our green wheelie bins were full to the brim last week, and will no doubt be every week for the next month or so. We compost our garden waste in our own garden too, but at the moment both 'daleks' are full and need emptying, so we only manage to squeeze in a bit each week.
There was no room for the fatsia leaves, and with their waxy finish they take a while to compost so after cutting out at least three of the older stems, the plant was a lot less dense and our bins were a lot fuller. It seemed though that wherever we worked in the garden was in full sun, and so plenty of breaks were needed. This weekend it's been a little cooler, and a preferable temperature for gardening, though of course today I've spent some time in the greenhouse instead.
The fatsia remains one of my favourite plants in this garden as whatever the season it looks good. The birds hadn't found all of the berries this winter though, so even some of them went out to the green bin. I cut at least three of the older stems out and it's looking much less dense, and happier for it now. I know though, that it'll grow back before I know it, it's the sort of plant that sees being cut back as a challenge to grow more!
Elsewhere in the garden the sleepers have weathered the winter well and the French lavender has grown dramatically. The ice succulent has fared less well but I plan to take some leaves from the plant to propagate some new plants.
In the autumn I discovered that the squirrels had taken a shine to my trug of succulents with many of the leaves separated from the plants, and one or two of them with bite marks in. So I picked them all up into a a plastic container, left them in the greenhouse and promptly forgot about them.
So discovering two plastic containers looking like this, was a bit of a win:
Plenty of free plants, with no effort at all!
The small Christmas tree is getting ready for a growth spurt too by the look of things. It had started to look a little weary in the heat last summer but has recuperated well over the winter. This year could be the year I finally get to cut it to make some wreaths, we'll see.
Just above the small Christmas tree is the lilac, whose height we reduced by half last year. It's repaid us with plenty of pretty and scented blooms this year, and what's better is that many of them are at head height so it was well worth cutting back. If you're planning to cut yours back, wait until it's finished flowering and then do it, otherwise you'll miss out on next year's flowers.
We missed the chance to cut down our dogwoods in February/March as not much was tempting me out into the garden earlier this year, so we do have some flowering dogwoods for a change. I'm considering cutting some of the stems (not all) so that we can still benefit from some red stems over the coming winter.
There's plenty of new growth around the garden, and quite a bit to be tamed. But not this fern. It's another of our plants that is very low maintenance, and I'm always pleased and slightly shocked that it comes back each year.
The forget-me-not weeds are still coming, but now they're joined by the blue - and pink - bells. The markings on these, especially the pink are exquisite, we've some while varieties in places around the garden too. I like the bluebells, for now, but they have a lot of greenery with them and once the flowers have gone I'm keen for that to be gone too.
On our side of the fence our Chilean potato plant is just starting to flower, the buds look heavy and fit to burst. Looking out of the first floor windows it seems, that they've well and truly burst into flower on our neighbour's more sunny side of the fence.
The camellia continues to flower and continues to shed its petals like confetti. The concrete hare (one of a pair) has a look of being caught about him doesn't he?
At the end of the garden the lily of the valley are making their scent known, and the bluebells are trying to get in on the act here too, along with the variegated ivy, which does look as if it's been artistically painted.
Throughout the garden we have many types of aquilegia, columbines or Granny's bonnets, whichever you know them by. We've some already in flower and this shot looking down on the flower is a favourite of mine. The trick is to take off the seed heads before they self seed - it's not something we always manage, but the results are pretty enough.
This year our laburnum tree is putting on a spectacular show, brighter and for longer than I remember last year. It's great to see a pop of yellow from the conservatory, something that usually the forsythias deliver in our garden, but this year they've not been so vivid. It's been the turn of the laburnum instead.
The berberis and holly have been clipped into their lollypop shapes, and I'm waiting for the mass above them to flower before I trim that back. It's closer than it was last weekend, but that whole space will be full of tiny pink flowers, and I don't want to miss them. This could also be the last hurrah of my step ladder as if I'm honest, it's seen better days (and probably had when we moved here fifteen years ago). The bottom step is a bit wobbly, which isn't so good - but it'd be worse if it was one higher up, as I'm wobbly enough up a ladder without help.
It's future isn't helped by the fact I tried out a Henchman ladder, the sort that I put on my garden wish list, at Grand Designs last weekend. I liked the wider base, but it was wider than I expected and while I managed to go up a couple of rungs, MOH went almost to the top and was impressed too. They're not cheap though, but it's the sort of thing you don't buy every week either, is it?
While my garden to do (and shopping) lists are growing, I'm pleased to have got out into the garden to can start to tackle the work that needs doing, it's taken a while this year to get my grow-jo* back!
* aka gardening mo-jo!