End of Month View – March 2017

Gosh it’s been warm here on the south coast for the last week and really brought everything on.   I checked back a couple of years and my End of Month View March 2015 blog post shows the garden is more advanced this year. 


Compared to most gardens, my garden would be described as ‘tiny’.  I have more by accident than design managed to move away from a square garden that can be seen in total from just one view.   It means that wherever you stand you get a different view, which gives the impression of a larger garden when photographs are taken.  


I removed the raised bed a few months ago and enlarged the bed to sweep around the left side of the garden.  The new bed is full of spring bulbs with the intention to turn it into a cutting garden during summers months.  I try to garden on a budget and can regularly be seen in Wilko browsing the garden section.   Their bulbs might be cheap and often disappointing but I bought 8 dahlia tubers at a £1 each and so far 6 of them have sprouted.   I did buy a packet of 2 Echinacia ‘white swan’ and sadly there was only one very limp plant in the dry dust they pack them in and I’m not sure if anything will come of it, however at £2 I can afford some no shows.

I have a plastic greenhouse, which really is nothing more than a cold frame, but it is full at the moment with sweet peas,  Cosmos, rudbeckia and sweet william.  I ordered cleome, aster, calendula and scabiosa seeds from the lovely Benjamin (and Flash of course!) at Higgledy Garden and when I can move some things out of the greenhouse, I will sow ready for a summer showing.   I ran out of copper tape and read that copper coins work just as well, it will be interesting to see if they work, and certainly will be one way to empty the coppers jug.  By the way, the slug pellets you can see on the bottom shelf are organic and only used as a last resort. 


The north side of the garden has a bed which in the winter is boggy, and in the summer under the shadow of the stone wall gets very little sunshine, so I have to be careful what I grow here.   The pink Astilbe loves it as you can see, along with Alchemilla Mollis.  Recently I put a lot of Levington Organic Manure on this bed to improve and feed it, however, it has been an attraction to the local cats, who have managed to knock off a lot of the Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ tips and in order to protect the rest of it I have placed a bit of plastic, but I don’t think the Euphorbia going to be as good this year. 

A few months ago I bought a small Tree Peony and after deliberation and advice from gardening followers on Instagram and Twitter as to whether to plant it in a container or in a flower bed, decided on the latter and it seems to have settled into its new home. 

There is a very small corner at the end of the garden which I have left alone – I call it my ‘wild section’, the primroses love it.  A job to go on the ‘to-do-list’ is to clear the ever invasive ivy before it gets a real foothold.  

It is quite exciting to see the number of buds on the peony this year, the first time since I planted it many years ago.  Previous years it’s only produced one or two flowers. 

A couple of years ago I planted a Clematis ‘Josephine’  to wrap its self around the Sambus Nigra (Elder).  I love this because the flowers are a good combination of colour with the new shoots of the Elder.

In 2015 I over pruned the Montana ‘Elizabeth’ and it hardly flowered in 2016 so I left it alone last year and look at it now! In a week or two it will be a picture of pink, fragrant flowers.

The photos above are a part of the garden I often ignore and don’t write about because it is not interesting and tends to be a dump area.  This year it is going to receive most of my attention.   The bed by the house wall, has had ever spreading raspberry bushes.  At the end of autumn 2016, I cut the raspberries right down to the ground and planted lots of spring bulbs which has given it lovely colour.  There is a small gravel patio in front of the shed, and a rather too large patio set donated to me by my youngest daughter.  There is a small path leading around from the side of the house across the front of the gravel area.  At the moment it is full of containers because it is the sunniest part of the garden.   My first job to improve this part of the garden is to dispose of the patio set, opening up the area which feels cluttered.  


The Day Lillies and Agapanthus are going to look really good this year and are filling up the left hand sunny corner.    The garden is still full of bits of chicken wire to protect young plants from animals who have complete disregard for the hard working gardener.   


My final photo is of the lime green Euphorbia adding contrast to the yellow tulips and Alliums which, although you can’t see, has some flower shoots. 

Thank you Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting this invaluable monthly meme.  Please pay her blog a visit and take a look at her lovely interesting garden as well as those of other contributors. 

A Sunny Sunday Afternoon at Monk’s House, Rodmell East Sussex

You know those days when you start out to do one thing and end up doing something completely different? Today was one of those days. We drove to Stanmer Park near Brighton, but the world and his wife were there, the restaurant was fully booked and there were no tables available in the bar area. We could have sat outside but the staff looked few and far between and we quickly came to the conclusion there would be a very long wait for food so we decided to move on. As we were not far off the A27 and near Lewes we headed in that direction. After a good pub lunch in Kingston, near Lewes, I remembered we were on the road to the National Trust property Monk’s House in Rodmell.
   
I had been there about 3 years ago but my friend had not so it seemed like a good place to visit on a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon.  

When the rent on Leonard and Viginia Woolf’s Sussex weekend bolt hole came to an end, Leonard found and fell in love with a 17th century cottage in nearby Rodmell.  He bought Monk’s House in 1919 at auction for £700 and it had no running water or electricity.  The water came 5 years later followed by electricity 5 years after that.   It was originally 3 workers cottages which over the years had been knocked into one.    Monk’s House was close to Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Virginia’s sister the artist Vanessa Bell.   They were part of The Bloomsbury Group – who were an influential group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists, which included John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey.  They would come down from London for weekends and summer holidays and lived a somewhat salacious lifestyle. 

  
 

  

Leonard Woolf, a novelist, started out very much an amateur gardener at Monk’s House, but was so absorbed with gardening, he became quite an expert and even grafted his own fruit trees.  Apparently Virginia had to book time to get him away from the garden so they could go for  walks together.

 The view of the South Downs just beyond the orchard is breathtaking.   The tranquility is almost tangible, the birds were singing their hearts out and we found we were talking in whispers.   It struck me as an ideal place for a retreat, and there were several benches to sit and contemplate.  I can see how Virginia found the inspiration and peace to write.  

 Standing near the house, you look out on a part of the garden filled with spring flowers.  Some of the tulips were nearly over but there were many more waiting to burst into colour.  Beyond this part of the garden is the orchard filled with fritillary and bluebells, with the 17th century church in the background.   

The garden at Monk’s House is open daily from 12.30 to 17.30 and Rodmell, East Sussx is between Lewes and Newhaven.  You could make a day of it and visit Charleston which is nearby.  
 

  

These photographs are a great reminder of a warm, peaceful, Sunday afternoon, surrounded by colourful tulips, birdsong and a sense of history.  

What a Difference a Mowed Lawn Makes

At last its been dry long enough for the lawn to dry out and for the first time since the beginning of the winter months, I dug the mower out of the shed and mowed the lawn!   I never seem to learn not to walk on the wet lawn in the winter and yet again I have a number of  bald patches.   Some of the patches I have dug over and enlarged the flower bed – you can never have too many beds can you!  A spot of lawn seed purchasing is on the list.

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Today I felt really inspired.   It is amazing the difference cutting the grass can make, all of a sudden the garden started to look tidy and ready for spring.

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The Ribes Sanguineum (Flowering Currant) is starting to have those pretty dark pink flowers, and soon it will be a wonderful pink display of drooping clusters.

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I found a few Forsythia flowers coming out with lots of buds, so that is going to look splendid in a few weeks.  Underneath some of the shrubs at the  bottom of the garden there are a few primrose plants, and these have managed avoid being nibbled at the moment.  Something likes to eat them but I have never found out what.   This clump of daffodils have remained uneaten also.  I think I read somewhere there is a little bug that likes to eat them but I can’t remember what I should do about it.

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One of my favourite shrubs in the spring is Spiria Japonica ‘Goldflame’.  Whilst, in my opinion, it is nothing to write home about in the summer, it deserves a mention at this time of the year.  The leaves emerge into a bronze-red in the spring, almost the reverse of other plants that turn that colour in the autumn.

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Last year I left the Elder Sambucus Nigra and it grew to a great height and cast a lot of shade over the garden, when sun was badly needed.  Therefore this year I thought I would be tough and cut it down by half its height.   I am doing it slowly, and at the moment it is still looking slightly odd.   There were a few branches that were overhanging next door, on which they hung some of those peanut plastic bags, and the birds were not interested as they have been untouched for months.   So, with great difficulty I managed to lean over the wall, cut the branches and successfully hauled the branches back on to my side of the wall to dispose of.   This old tree is not going to be killed off easily, although that is certainly not my intention, it is full of little knobbly purple sprouts as you can see.   I know it won’t produce any flowers or berries this year, as they appear on growth from the previous year, but at least I will have a little more sun.

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The pots on the side patio are coming into their own now, and the tete-a-tete daffodils that I feared were looking rather stunted are now a decent size.  I am looking forward to a splendid display of tulips.

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Finally, the Jasmine Jasminum Officinale, which has flowered throughout the winter is amazing and smells glorious.   It usually flowers in June and July giving out a heady perfume in the evenings, so I am expecting it to continue to flower throughout the summer.   This was a tiny house plant and about 10 years ago I planted it out into a sheltered corner of the house.   The year before last it was getting really out of hand and I cut it right down the ground thinking I had killed – clearly not!!

 

 

 

End of Month View – March 2015

It is getting a little warmer now and everything in the garden is full of the joy of spring.   We have been unlucky this last week with some very strong winds and I, for one, suffered the loss of seedlings when my plastic greenhouse blew over.  Fortunately it is still early enough to get going again.  I shoved my sweet pea seeds, which were sprouting, back into their pots hoping that they will recover. 

Today, a few days after the end of March, it is mild and wet but during a lull in the drizzle I managed a couple of hours in the garden.  The soil is burgeoning with weeds and ideal to work at the moment so I spent most of the time hoeing and adding organic compost.   

  The Forsythia and Ribes are contributing to wonderful spring colour in the garden.  The lawn desperately needs some work this year.  I have put feed and weed on it and now there are large black patches where the moss was.  Also there are bald patches caused by me walking on the lawn when it was very wet and frosty. 

   

I love the Spirea at this time of the year because the leaves are beautiful shades of rosy pink and russet.

 

The south facing border is a spring delight with daffodils, forget-me-nots, and peony shoots. 

 

 As I walked around I could see the euphorbia, which I thought had died, has recovered for another year. 

 

 On the opposite flower bed the tiny shoots of the euphorbia ‘Fireglow’  are making an appearance.  It seems to have spread so I am expecting a good show this year.

  A few years ago I planted a clematis ‘Josephine’ at the base of the Elder and it is full of buds so the contrast of the pink flowers and the purple leaves on the Elder should look good within a month or two. 

  In my last post I said I was delighted that the Clematis Montana ‘Elizabeth’ had survived it’s severe hacking.  This year I think the shed is going to be covered in pretty fragrant flowers. 

   

 

The lasagna pots on the side patio are blooming well with an assortment of daffs and the tulips are slowly coming up also. 

   

  

 Although the Peiris is looking a little thin, it is flowing well so can’t be too unhappy. 

  Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener for hosting this great meme, which serves as an extremely useful record of how the gardening is fairing over the years. 

Next month, when the EOMV for April is put together, there will be lots more of exciting new growth to show you. 

Spring has Sprung

A little too late this morning for the solar eclipse, which in my part of the country was disappointing event due to heavy cloud, the finally sun appeared mid morning and it was a simply glorious day to do some gardening.  It was even warm enough just to wear a gillet. I hoed, edged, pruned and managed the first lawn mow of the year.  It was a very beneficial morning, not only for the garden but for me too.  Having been very low and negative for a while I perked up no end.  I even fell in love with my garden again.   It is very understandable that gardening is seen as therapeutic and seeing all the new buds on the shrubs and plants beginning to burst through the soil, it boosted my spirits no end. Last year I planted a whole heap of daffodil bulbs and was expecting a glorious display but since planting them I have had trouble with animals, cats and squirrels digging things up so what I do have I’m fairly happy with. The ones above are in the sunny border and are big and blousy.  The others around the garden are just about to flower and if we continue to have a sunny few days I think they will be out by the end of the weekend. The two shrubs that always herald spring, for me anyway, are the yellow of the Forsythia and the raspberry red of the Ribes.  Both are bursting with buds, with the Ribes being marginally ahead.

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The one very special plant I love to see every spring is the Peony with its red lipstick shaped shoots.  I spoke to it very nicely asking it to produce some flowers this year; it failed to flower last year.  There are a lot of Aqualegia dotted around and as I planted lots of new ones last year I hope they will come true to their variety.  Over the past years all the ones I did have reverted to pasty pink.

I am pleased to see the Astrantia has made it through to another year. IMG_2232 Last year I pruned the Montana Elizabeth a little too heavily and worried I may have killed it off.  Fortunately this is not the case, it is scrabbling over the shed and covered in tiny little buds. Followers of my blog may remember that I caretake the front garden as it is owned by the upstairs flat which is tenanted.  It has Just been re-let and new tenants are due in shortly.  I am hoping, as with previous tenants, they are not gardeners and more than happy for me to continue to look after it.   I gave it a bit of a tidy this morning and have moved into the back garden a number of the Day Lily offshoots.  It is looking healthier this year than I’ve seen for years and as it had spread considerably I thought I would dig some of it up before the tenants arrived.  After all it is a plant I put in, so I feel that’s only fair, don’t you?  It is a vibrant orange and will look good in the sunny border in my garden at the rear. Finally, I want to share the Kerria with you which is at the side of my bay window.  I love the button yellow flowers on this variety.

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Happy gardening everyone!