My garden in March

March has been a funny month. It’s had all the seasons and some, and as I saw on Facebook earlier in the week “we’ve had a good winter this spring!” How true is that? I’m hoping that the weather remembers it should be getting warmer soon. Although yesterday was the first time that I’ve got caught in one of the showers, rain, hail or otherwise. It hardly makes sense when looking at the photo below.

blue skies through the trellis

As a consequence we’ve done very little gardening. The grass has had its first cut, a week or so ago and it looks better for it. At the rear of the garden the grass needs some work as something’s been digging out there. I don’t think it’s the foxes, but I do need to put a battery in the fox scarer just in case. It’s more likely to be the squirrels. MOH is convinced they dig the lawn just to annoy him, I nod sagely at this point and then more often than not draw his attention to the latest squirrel workforce in the garden. And to think at one point we used to feed them, but no more - maybe that’s why?!

A euphorbia in the leaves

The euphorbias with their lime green fresh ‘flowers’ are in full flow, following shortly behind the ‘elephants ears’ whose cheery pink flowers have all but gone. The euphorbia above has made a dash for a new location, which I’m rather pleased about. It’s alongside the fence which is nearest to the conservatory, and it’s hard to grow anything there as the soil is so poor. So even if I wasn’t happy about it migrating there (and I am) I think I’d have to let it grow for pluck alone.

On the other side of the patio among the jasmine twigs there’s signs of new life for the clematis and the climbing rose, although I think I’m going to have to get brave and prune the clematis this year as all the growth is pretty much at the top of the fence. I learnt how to prune roses last year, so it’s perfectly doable, just a bit scary when you make the cut.

new growth on my clematis

The grape hyacinths have also been and gone, as have the orangey-red flowers of the ornamental quince. We’ve only really enjoyed these through the windows this year, which is a shame.

a grape hyacinth in the spring sun

The hellebores at the end of the garden seem to have a bit more staying power. I had a wander to the greenhouse this last weekend and they were still blushing away in the shy way that only hellebores can. They clearly like where they are and I’m hopeful that there’ll be plenty of new plants for next year too. It’d be good to move some of them to a different part of the garden, but then again they’re thriving here so it’s a case of finding another spot they like. Planting some into a pot, might help find somewhere they like.

hellebores at the end of the garden

The forget-me-nots are starting their annual spring march. They’re not ones to observe boundaries, as you can see from the various bunches below which have already hopped over the border and into the grass. They will have to face the wrath of MOH and the lawnmower, and I don’t fancy their chances. They are pretty flowers, but we have so many that like ivy, these are allowed to be removed at any opportunity.

the march of the forget-me-nots

What does seem to be lasting longer than usual is the forsythia. Ours is still flowering, perhaps not as much as this, but it’s still obviously yellow. I was expecting to be able to cut this already, but the forsythia - and the weather - had other ideas.

looking up into the forsythia

This one is due quite a heavy trim. It’s shape is just about still there, and now I have my new ladder there’ll be nothing to stop me. It just needs to stop flowering first. Further down the garden the cherry tree is further along than this photo suggests, but I couldn’t resist sharing the cherry blossom when it’s in its brussels sprout stage.

cherry blossom buds

And don’t mention the impending trim to the forsythia. While I’m sure it knows its coming, what it probably doesn’t know is that all winter it’s been harbouring and shelter my partner in crime.

forsythia, a ladder and the spikiest of spiky plants

It’s not all one-sided though, I’m pretty sure the yucca - which is the spikiest of spiky plants - will give me a prod or two as I retrieve the ladder, trim the forsythia and clear up. It’s pretty persistent!

A peek into my garden and a to do list

After the wind blew the protective fleece off the agapanthus I was tempted out into the garden to tie it back on.  And actually, when I got out there it wasn’t as bad as thought - I managed to time it between the rain and the hail, which helped!  Sunday was definitely a day with four seasons, but even so it was just a quick peek to check to see if the wind had caused any more damage. 

Thankfully the answer was not much, there were a couple of small tree branches down, one from the large tree at the back of our garden and the plastic trugs needed rounding up. It’s not clear if the branch was dipue to the wind or to squirrel damage.  That’s a real thing, sometimes they get a tasting for a type of tree and nibble of the bark weakening branches, which eventually die and then fall.  I’m hoping it is the wind, not the squirrels - I think it’s a bit early for them, so it could be ok.  When we’ve experuthis before it’s been expensive, mainly because the tree man has to come in and work on all three of the larger trees.

While I was out there it was clear there are a few jobs to do, ones we should be doing and I’m sure you’ll have similar jobs too, so far on my list there’s:

  1. Pick up the leaves from the beds, there’s some by the hare but there’s also some further up the garden where one of the foxes split the black sacks.

  2. Start thinning the forget-me-nots, ours are prolific and if we don’t thin some now I dread to think how many there’ll be next year.

A hare with a leaf hat and a leaf bed

The forget-me-nots are starting to come through - there’s a clump of them in front of the grape hyacinth, and marching over the edging into the grass. This spot clearly gets the sun, and no doubt that’s encouraged them to start their takeover bid.

grape hyacinths and ornamental quince in the sun
I spy forget-me-nots

See those leaves behind those lime green euphorbias? Yes they need to come up too - they’re the ones there courtesy of the foxes. It’s a dry spot so I suspect they thought about setting up home, or even a daytime snooze spot there, but thankfully thought better of it. We’re hearing the foxes screeching again in the garden at night, another thing for the list is:

3. Check/change the battery in the fox scarer.

I don’t want them settling in the garden, they make a dreadful mess and I want to be able to leave the doors open when the weather’s good confident that we won’t have unwanted visitors. I’ve a feeling that next door’s cat won’t be shy about coming in.

elephants ears and euphorbia
The kerria that came from next door

There’s plenty of yellow blooms appearing too, which you’ll know will please me. There’s the Kerria (above) that’s popped through from next door and is really getting established in a number of spots. It’s easy to see why it’s often called the pom-pom plant isn’t it?

Our forsythia tree is also in full bloom and we can see this blaze of yellow from the house. When it stops flowering though, then it’s time to give it a trim. I think we missed this one last year, so this one is definitely going on the list, and now I’ve got my new ladder, that will get an outing too.

4. Trim the forsythia tree when it finishes flowering.

Forsythia reaching for the sky

And yes, here’s a peek into the greenhouse. Peek in is about all we can do at the moment as it’s rather full. The trugs have been rounded up and stored here to avoid recovering them from wherever the wind fancies. I didn’t get to do as much in the greenhouse last year as I hoped, but this year I’m hoping to put those plans into place, rearranging the inside to provide more growing space, moving some of the storage space to the small shed we brought back from the allotment (which should be going on the list, but I’m saving that one until it’s a bit warmer and we don’t mind spending more hours out there).

A greenhouse to clear out

5. Fight my way into the greenhouse, sort it out and rearrange it to provide more growing space.

6. Tidy the hellebores when they’re past their best, and nurture new seedlings that I discover while doing this.

pretty hellebores to admire

At the back of the garden the rhubarb in the pot is already doing well and looking, well, looking like rhubarb.  Though by rights, this should be a relatively light rhubarb year as the advice is to not cut the stems in the year after it’s been moved, which when they’re looking this good already, is a real shame.

7.  Collect the fallen branches for the green bin.

8. Trim the pyracantha which seems to have two antennae heading straight for the cherry tree.

9. Cut the ivy out of the cherry tree, which has taken hold again.

10. Sort out some seeds to sow!

rhubarb in a pot

I’m sure though there’s plenty more to add, but for now let’s keep it to ten. What’s on your gardening list right now?

Is Spring springing?

I’d like to say it is, and there’s evidence in my garden that my garden thinks so too.  I was tempted out there for the first time this year at the weekend, and the plan was to have a bit of a tidy up, poke around a bit and not do anything too strenuous.  And I guess I didn’t really, but I did much more than I first thought, which included climbing into the trellised corner of the garden to quite literally tug at a vine that had grown into our cherry tree.  It wasn’t going to be good for any tree, let alone the tree that actually produces cherries.

It was time for the dogwoods to be cut too, so that next year we’re treated to some more vibrant red stems.  Cutting them always makes me nervous though so now I only cut some of the stems, so the plant has a chance of surviving.  I’ve had them since they were bare rooted plants, they’re now taller than me, so there’s quite some investment there - mostly of time, as bare rooted plants are a great and cost effective way to buy dogwoods.  I did cut an older plant back hard once, and that was the last I saw of it, hence my hesitancy.  And after I’d finished the green garden bin was pretty full for the first time this year, and actually it was good to be out there getting stuck in, of course the weather helped.

Back to the bulbs, they’re much prettier and worthy of photos.  This crocus did well to survive MOH’s leaf tidying skills, actually as you can see only fifty percent of it survived. He’d tried to stand the fallen stem up again though in the hope I wouldn’t notice...

A crocus among the ivy

The cyclamens have had a really good winter in our garden and now I’ve clumps of their highly decorative leaves around the garden, and I’m not complaining.  Some have even jumped over into the grass, which I’ll need to rescue before MOH fires up the lawnmower, as as the crocus discovered nothing is safe in his path.  I also need to find out if and how I can thin these and spread them even further around the garden, as it’s always nice to have plants repeating throughout a garden, for continuity.

A good winter for my cyclamens
The black grass has grown a bit but seems very slow to spread

The black grass has also done well, though it’s not spread as quick as I’d like.  I think I’ve plenty of little plants here, so another job is for me to find out how to maximise these.  What I don’t have to do though is find a way to help these miniature iris-like flowers spreading around the garden, they’re doing well enough on their own.  They’re not quite at forget-me-not level, but I’m keeping my eye on them, and I’m ready to unleash MOH if needed, they’ve been warned.

iris-like flowers that have self-seeded

I’m now even more convinced than I was before (and that was quite a lot) that the plants below are elephants ears and not hostas as I thought for many years.  They are spectacular though, have a great name and sit in a part of the garden where they enjoy the sun.  Even their waxy leaves are looking healthy and not quite as nibbled as they will be later in the year.

pink flowers and elephant ears
the euphorbias are on their way

Unusually though the euphorbias seem a little behind the other plants, but I guess that means we’ve still got their lime green loveliness to come - that’s something I love, and MOH tolerates.  Even I’ve given up trying to save them if they hop over into the grass, but that’s mostly because they are so plentiful so need to be taught a lesson or two.  The leaves in the background are thanks to the foxes, who’ve unbagged a black sack or two of leaves, for fun this winter.

I made an unexpected discovery in my succulent trug, and that’s foxgloves.  I’m not sure I want them there, but after years of no foxgloves, right now I’ll take foxgloves wherever they want to grow.  I had success moving them last year to where I wanted them, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be as lucky again this year, but not just yet.

foxgloves in the succulents

That’s the challenge with this weather, it’s lovely now, but is it here to stay?  A sharp frost could damage newly pruned plants, which in turn could jeopardise their flowering or suffer later on.  I caught our new neighbour enthusiastically cutting our jasmine this weekend too, which I wasn’t too impressed about.  I know they have a legal right to cut things that have grown over the fence, and I also know that pruning is addictive, but even so it was a little too enthusiastic for me and so I politely pointed out that it was the wrong time of year to be so keen, and I didn’t want to miss out on the flowers, or the scent the jasmine brings.  It was all very amicable, and there were apologies, so all very British, and I’m hopeful it’s just keenness rather than anything more.

sunlight on the fatsia

But while I was waiting and watching to see if I was being overzealous and over protective, I got to stand and admire the sunlight on the fatsia, they really are special plants throughout the year, and I’ve no idea where this one gets all its leaves from.  And look what else I spotted, some only just turning blue muscari, or grape hyacinths, I don’t think I’ve ever spotted them in this state before and I think this makes me like them even more.

a hint of blue on the muscari

It’s fascin to see how they appear to push their way out of the ground with their spear-like flower already formed.  Look to the right of the just-turning-blue muscadine, in the photo above.

Throughout the garden there’s evidence of bulb growth, so I know there’s more to come.  There’s a couple of daffodils out, and more on the way, and they’re even pushing their way through the cyclamen clumps, and I have to admire their willingness to grow and hope they’re not thwarted by a return of the Beast from the East, which was in full swing this time last year - it’s hard to comprehend the difference this year, isn’t it?

bulb growth and pretty markings on yet more cyclamen

The markings on the cyclamen leaves are also pretty special too, that’s another reason to rescue as many as I can from the lawnmower, when the time comes.  And after that initial poke around, I’m fired up for gardening again this year, and already my garden to-do list is growing, just like my bulbs...

How’s your garden faring as Spring starts to Spring?