My Garden Journal 2020 – March

This is already the third visit to my Garden Journal 2020 and this month is officially the start of spring. On the first day for March I wrote, “March, the month when we are informed by the Met Office, marks the start of spring, from the first day in fact. This seems so inappropriate as the only true signs of new seasons are the changes in the weather and in plants. We are having a few bright days early in March but we still wake to hard frosts sometimes. In the garden we are beginning to see signs of spring, opening leaf buds that give brightest greens or deep reds and purples.”

 

On the next page I wrote, “They say of March, ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’, an old-wives’ tale. The end of February was all ‘lion-like’ and so we spent the first week of March helping our house and garden recover from the damage wreaked by  three violent storms.”

“Two specimen trees were flattened as were climber-covered trellises. Fence panels were destroyed and our back gate escaped from its hinges”

“Hard work every day for a week soon had us looking reasonably ‘ship-shape’. The fences and trellis were replaced with stronger versions and some trees were upright once again.”

Over the page we get colourful as we feature spring bedding primulas. “March gives us plenty of colour from short-growing flowering primulas and shrubs. Our native Primroses are our true favourite but this year we have added a few bedding primulas for extra colour. The other single flowers are self-seeded crosses relating to our original primroses plus other herbaceous hardy primulas.”

Next I looked at garden tasks we had to get done in March. “Tasks in the garden in March included planting a new long thin border at the bottom of our drive. The border is part in our garden and part in our neighbours. We planted a variety of thymes, low-growing sedum, plus small carex grasses and other succulents.

“Our Cercis siliquastrum is back upright once again! Ian our garden helper giave the lawn its first cut, while Jude treated our trellises with organic algae remover.”

 

“A new pot of foliage plants is planted up with small foliage shrubs with a carex for added texture.”

Over onto the next double page spread I looked at coloured stems and bark. I wrote, “Probably the star of our garden in winter and early spring is Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire” which we grow as pollards. So we get the brightest of stems possible in shades of yellow, coral, oranges and reds. At the end of the month we will cut it back to its knobbly heads.”

I included a print of an i-Pad sketch of Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ and a photo taken last April showing the same shrub after pollarding.

On the opposite page I continued, “Stem and bark plants of the month for March are acers. We grow a few dozen different acers in our garden, both shrubs and trees. When we buy a new one we look jointly at leaf colour and shape as well as bark interest be it colour pattern or texture.”

The four photos of the acers are from left to right in top row, we have

Acer ‘George Forrest’, Acer palmatum.

The bottom row from left to right shows another Acer palmatum and Acer pectinatum.

The page included my set of 3 crayon sketches of Acer sango kaku.

The final double page spread for March looks at our “Foliage plant of the month” and the “Flowering plant of the month”.

The final page for March features my ‘flowering plant of the month, which is pulmonaria. I wrote, “These little gems of late winter into early spring give us flowers of pink, white and blue, with some flowers showing off by displaying pinks and blues on the same flower heads. There are many more still to flower and develop their distinctive foliage too.”

I then shared nine photos illustrating just a few of our pulmonarias.

 

The final page for this month features a few more garden tasks we have completed, “The last week or so of March gave us a real treat, bright blue skies and warmth, so we took the opportunity to get a few more tasks completed.”

“We planted up our water garden in a bowl, which Ian our helper, prepared back in February. We had to get it level first though – quite a challenge! We planted it up with 5 plants – Iris ‘Black Gamecock’, Isolepsis cernua, Nymphaea ‘Snow Princess’, the oxygenator Ceratophyllum demersum and a tiny bullrush Typha minima.”

“We cleared areas of grass so that we could sow a wildflower seed mix to create little areas of meadow and we potted on the perennials on our nursery shelves.”

 

So that is my garden journal entries for March – we shall open its pages again for April.

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Simply Beautiful – No 36 in an occasional series

For the 36th post in this occasional series about simple beauty, I decided to revisit a summer’s day back in June when simple single roses were glowing in the sunshine.

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Spring bulbs at Avocet

This time of year is made extra special as the bulbs we planted in the autumn start to burst into flower. Daffodils give splashes of every shade of yellow often with orange trumpets. We have a few whites left from the hundreds we inherited. We are not keen on white daffs as they seem so wishy-washy so we dug out hundreds leaving just odd clumps. Crocus are far more delicate and come in a wider range of colours from white to yellow, orange and purple. Anemone blandas are joining these now and appear as delicate blue daisies among the fresh growth of perennial plants. We don’t have many hyacinths but the few we have are most welcome and remind us to order more next autumn. You may spot the interloper – the flowers of a bergenia – walking past I could not resist taking its picture!

The best way to savour the effects that our bulbs have on our March garden is to come with me with my camera and see what we spot. So follow the gallery by clicking on the first photo and then use the arrows to navigate. Enjoy!

 

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Hellebores – winter and spring perennials

At this time of year we love turning up the drooping heads of our hybrid hellebores. They can flower from mid-winter on through spring so are such useful garden plants and loved by most gardeners.

Enjoy my photos below of some of the hellebores that are in flower mid-March.

 

 

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Simply beautiful Pulmonarias

We grow a couple of dozen pulmonarias in the shadier parts of our garden, where they give both interestingly marked leaves and plenty of flowers in pinks, blues and white. We have lots in flower now, mid-March but several others will flower in the coming weeks.

I hope you enjoy my gallery of those that are flowering now. To follow the gallery just click on the first photo then navigate using the arrows.

 

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Our Norfolk Holiday – The Railway Station at Holt

This post takes us back to 2017 and shares part of a holiday week. As we are being effected by the coronavirus problems I thought this post would give a little cheer.

While holidaying in Norfolk with daughter Jo and son-in-law Rob in the summer of 2017 we were so pleased to find a steam railway line close to where we were staying. We alighted at Holt Station where it has its name written in cut box.

The railway itself is known as the North Norfolk Railway, with a friendly nickname of the Poppy Line. The station at Holt is run by a group of volunteers, the Friends of Holt Station and there is an obvious sense of pride in everything they do. Thus everything is clean, tidy and beautifully maintained. We decided to ride the train to the end of the line, not far away in Sheringham.

 

The detailing is full of character and beautifully restored and maintained. Each feature brought back memories of childhood for Jude and I but a secondhand nostalgia for Jo and Rob.

 

In the yard beyond the station buildings we discovered some old freight trucks and an old brown lorry, again beautifully restored.

While waiting for our train to arrive were disappointed that the first engine we spotted was a diesel. Luckily ours followed not long after, a shining green steam engine.

    

After a most enjoyable journey with sights, sounds and smells from times past we arrived at the seaside town of Sherringham where we spent the day. In our childhood travelling by steam train was a normal way of getting around so days like this bring back fond memories.

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After the Storms – Ciara and Dennis

Two terrible storms hit the UK during February, both named storms  – Storm Ciara and Dennis. We are always in the line of such storms and get battered by gale force winds and heavy precipitation, rain, hail, sleet and snow and both our house and our garden suffered badly. Our roof lost part of the ridge and a length of fascia board and in the garden we lost fence panels, a gate, trellises complete with their climbing plants and two rare specimen trees.

Our back gate was torn from its hinges and the fence either side is no longer fixed to many of its posts. It is held up be faith awaiting the next storm to finish it off. The right hand photo shows the mangled tangle of trellis that was a T-shaped structure which had a Clematis Bill MacKenzie, a bright yellow flowered ‘tangutica’ variety, and a honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, our native honeysuckle also known as Old Man’s Beard. We had to prune so much growth out just to rescue the plants and dismantle the broken trellis.

Our favourite tree was flattened but its roots remain in the ground – fingers crossed we may be able to rescue with the help of a woodsman friend. This is the second this has happened to this beautiful specimen of Cercis siliquastrum which delights with its pink spring flowers and later its ruby red pods. The right hand picture shows how most of the tree is now over the fence into the neighbouring garden.

The second beautiful unusual specimen tree to be blown over was our yellow-berried cotoneaster, Cotoneaster rothschildiana. We managed to get it back up and used tree ties to secure it against a larger tree stake, as seen in the left hand picture below.

Sadly during the next storm it came out again and we had to put it back up and fix it with tree ties to two tree stakes.

Our recently acquired corten steel screens were blown backwards and are now all asquew, so we will have to refit them with tougher supports.

 

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