This week on government advice, like many other people – I am ‘home working’, in my garden this is unpaid in monetary terms but well paid in physical and mental stimulation. I have signed up for volunteering and again like many others, waiting to be processed.
Seeds have been sown in the utility room, and transferred to the dining room/grandchildrens playroom, sadly without little inquisitive hands to worry about it is now the substitute greenhouse for germination.
At work I usually start with a quick flit around making a mental note – or notepad if the list is long – what is in need of immediate attention first. Once the priorities are attended to I then start in one border and work my way around the garden until I end up back where I began – in a large garden this can take weeks depending on the allotted time frame, But does mean the whole garden gets my attention from the ground up meaning I am less likely to miss an area or a self seeded unwanted tree!
The Meadow – once a pristine front lawn with perfect circles around three ornamental trees – was one of my first projects for change. From first thing in the morning to last thing at night this is the area most viewed on our small ‘estate’ .
Formally a truck hardstanding the rubble from that is buried below ground. The earth is not rich, the grass is not lush, perfect then for a wildflower meadow. Four years on and the meadow thrives. From late winter/early spring the walk from our front gate through the meadow to our garage is filled with excitement as every day more flowers gradually appear. The long-suffering initially sceptical – as is his way when garden ideas are first broached – now loves only having to cut the grass once at the end of the season and played an active part in the planting of hundreds of bulbs!
This year I have noticed early narcissus are in short supply, a note for autumn is to introduce Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’ a good hardy naturaliser with creamy white reflexed petals from an orange centre. These I hope will compliment the early crocus and Anemone blanda already present. The Narcissus ‘Actaea’, Fritillaria meleagris, species Tulipa sylvestris and Tulipa humilis are all either flowering or about to.
The ornamental grasses and perennials in the prairie border alongside the meadow are already showing new growth only two weeks on from their annual chop down to base.
A mass of tulips in the front house borders are ready to burst open in an elegant display of purple and white.
In the back garden the Penstemons are looking worse for wear but with frosts still on the horizon the long scruffy stems can stay for another week or two as protection. the shrubby Salvia will get the same consideration.
Many plants in the back garden came with me from our old garden some given to me by family, friends, and clients some of whom are no longer here but live on through their plants. The double blue and frilly pinky white primulas are two such delights in spring.
Snow drops from Granny are over now but she is already returning as new plump shoots of her treasured Hosta, still thrive in their original terracotta pot. Beneath a rusted lobster pot in the long border a double purple/blue geranium – name unknown – is poised ready to send up its pretty long flowering shoots, a cutting from my sister and fellow gardener who still has the parent plant.
In the shady spring border the tiny dainty Epimedium flowers can be seen after a delicate removal of some old foliage. Pulmanaria ‘Sissinghurst White’ has finally settled in and has started to spread. Beautiful Brunnera ‘Mr Morse’ shines bright under Viburnam bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and the tall arching stems of Leucojum aestivum nod gracefully in the slightest breeze.
The cutting patch provides early cut flowers for the house Anemone corona have given me vase fulls of colour.
The new tree Amelanchier Lamarkii planted early last spring is about to burst into flower.
Prunus ‘Snow Goose’ an upright form of tree – good for a small garden – is in full flower beautiful and uplifting white petals standing out against the recent clear blue skies.
I finish my rounds on the wooden swing seat beneath the resident snake – a very effective deterrent to the messy pigeons that like to sit!
This is my special place, a personal memory to my mother who also loved her garden and is inscribed with her saying ‘its a good life if you don’t weaken’ particularly apt in todays crisis.
As a world we are being weakened it will take time but we will become strong once more we just have to stick together from a distance for now at least!
Some jobs for April from my notes:
- Sowing seeds can start in earnest – if not already started!
- Plant out autumn sown sweet peas by the middle of the month in the south.
- Keep planting and dividing perennials.
- Keep tying in all climbing plants – rose stems tie horizontal to promote flowering along the stem and not just at the top.
- Prune Forsythia and Chaeomeles after flowering.
- Now is the time to start errecting plant supports.
- Keep on top of any weeding.