Categories
colours flowering bulbs garden design garden photography gardening gardens grasses hardy perennials ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shrewsbury Shropshire shrubs spring bulbs

My Garden Journal 2019 – March

It is already time for sharing my third month’s entries in my garden journal. So here are the March pages for you to enjoy and for you to see what the garden has been up to and what we have been up to in the garden.

I began by writing, “March came on the scene dull, grey and lifeless looking. After the mild temperatures of the last few weeks with virtually no rain, the last day of February was very wet. Thank goodness for Daffodils, the spring bulbs that can cheer up the dullest of days.”

I then showed 9 photos of our wonderful early daffodils, mostly miniature narcissi.

 

On the next page I looked at our selection of Carex.

“We grow dozens of grasses and sedges in our garden with some in virtually every border and container. In the winter the evergreens dominate and their deciduous cousins add gentle colours – ginger, biscuit, coffee, clotted cream, latte, cappuccino and many more subtle shades. The largest family of evergreens are the Carex family. Here are just a few that we grow!”

Here is a selection of the many Carex we grow.

On the opposite page I consider how well the Carex family of grasses fit in with other plants and plant combinations. I wrote, “They fit in almost anywhere, sun or shade!”

 

“Meanwhile we have cut down deciduous grasses to stimulate new growth.”

Turning over to the next double page spread I have a look at a couple of under-appreciated plants.

I wrote, “An unknown plant and an under appreciated plant, both stalwarts of the March garden, Bergenias and Drimys. I love them both!”

“Drimys lanceolata ‘Winter Spice’.

On the opposite page I looked at two places of warmth, a warm welcome and the warm greenhouse. Firstly I wrote, “A warm welcome to your garden is essential throughout the year. We welcome visitors to our Avocet patch using three fruit boxes planted up with interesting seasonal plants. Here they are in March.”

“When winter weather gets too much we retreat to the greenhouse where Jude has been pricking out seedlings and I have been nurturing my delicate succulents and Fuschia thalia which is in flower in the first week of March.”

  

On the next couple of pages I consider March pruning and some flowers we enjoyed in our March garden.

Of pruning I wrote, “March is a busy month in our garden. As well as cutting deciduous grasses rather drastically almost down to the ground we have to coppice or pollard Salix and Cornus to ensure we will enjoy their coloured stems next winter.”

“Flowers are appearing, some expected but others well out of their season.”

 

Over the page I moved on to consider the fresh growth appearing throughout the garden during March.

I wrote, “Fresh growth in March always seems urgent and gives us confidence for the seasons to come. The excitement and vibrancy of new growth on Clematis, perennials and our cloud-pruned box edging.”

On the opposite page I considered a favourite shrub growing in our “Shrub Border”, Rhamnus aureomarginatus, and looked at the importance of all the greens in our March garden. About Rhamnus I wrote, A true all year round shrub which graces our shrub border, lighting up the dullest winter days with its silver margined variegation. Early in the year the golden-orange flower buds light up the plant and these will open in summer to give yellow flowers followed later in the year by tiny black shining berries.”

 

Opposite I wrote, “Green is the colour. Lots of shades of green.”

 

So that is it for my March gardening report so in a few days it will be time to start on April’s entries.

 

Categories
flowering bulbs garden design garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials irises light quality National Trust ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs spring bulbs The National Trust trees Winter Gardening winter gardens

A Favourite Winter Garden – Dunham Massey

This will be our third visit to the relatively new winter garden at Dunham Massey, a National Trust property in Cheshire, our neighbouring county to the north of our home county, Shropshire. The leaflets concerning the garden refer to it as a “Curiosity Garden”, while inside is written, “Forget hibernating until spring, Dunham Massey’s Winter Garden is wide awake with colour.”

 

The leaflet then invites us to “Take a refreshing walk in the Winter Garden along meandering paths with shocking red cornus and brilliant white birch trees trees glittering in the winter sun. Discover bright winter berries, late flowering scented shrubs and thousands of snowdrops and iris in the new year.”

We approached the winter garden by meandering along gravel paths across a shallow valley, when upon passing through the first red-bricked outbuildings we discovered some of the best pleaching we had ever seen. It stops us in our tracks on every visit.

The pleached limes look a few decades old and possess the ubiquitous knobbles from where the new wands of growth spurt in the spring after their annual pollarding.

Shrubs come into their own in the winter season with their coloured stems, their scent and beautiful hanging flower clusters.

     

Early flowering bulbs add much of the colour in the garden in February. Sunlight catches them and highlights their bright colours.

 

All winter gardens open to the public make strong features of trees with coloured, textured bark, Betulas, Acers and Prunus.

 

Shrubs with coloured stems provide effective partner planting for these trees, especially Cornus and Salix varieties. The gardeners at Dunham Massey are adept at transparency pruning, effectively lifting the akirts of shrubs and small trees to expose their trunks and lower branches.

  

The one plantingcategory that sorts out the best winter gardens from the average is the good creative use of ground cover. It is all too easy to use bark mulch but there are good interesting plants that can cover the ground and add new dimensions to planting schemes. Dunham Massey is on the way to sorting this well, using Carex, Bergenia, Ophiopogon, ferns and Pachysandra.

So there we have it, a thoroughly inspiring visit to one of our favourite winter gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
flowering bulbs garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden wildlife gardening grasses hardy perennials light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs spring bulbs water in the garden Winter Gardening winter gardens

My Garden Journal 2016 – February

Back with the second post sharing my 2016 Garden Journal, we will look at what it holds for February.

2016 02 13_8659_edited-1

On the first page for the month I mention the changing light values that occurs during February.

2016 02 24_9066_edited-1

“This is the month when light values really start to improve. We also get longer days when the weather allows. This change in light coupled with slowly rising temperatures encourages birds to change their songs and calls. The Great Tit is the master of calls with its huge repertoire. Luckily they are very frequent visitors to our garden. They are great entertainers! Their song in February is a “see-sawing ditty with mechanical overtones.” (Collins Bird Guide)

I added my gouache painting of a pair of Great Tits.

2014 12 21_8971_edited-1

On the opposite page I carried on talking about our continued development of our greenhouse.

Having completed the construction of our new heated propagation bench last month we then sorted out our pots, trays, pans and cells ready for the new sowing and growing season. We ensured we have plenty of labels as well as sowing compost and horticultural grit. Jude finished putting up insulation bubble wrap.”

2016 02 02_8119-1 2016 02 02_8120-12016 02 02_8121-1 2016 02 02_8131-1 2016 02 02_8122-1

From greenhouse gardening to pond gardening, my next page features two photos of Jude the Undergardener in her waders playing in our wildlife pond.

2016 02 24_9069_edited-1

“Mid to late February is the time each year when our Common Frogs come to sing, mate and then leave balls of spawn in our wildlife pond. Thus early this month Jude donned her chest waders and cleaned up the pond. She removed Duckweed, Blanket Weed and fallen leaves, then thinned out the water plants.

2016 01 26_8057-1 2016 01 26_8056-1

We tidied up the narrow border that edges the pond, pulling a few hardy weeds and taking up seedlings of our Cornus “Midwinter Fire”. It was heartening to discover how workable our soil was, this being the result of a decade of improving it with the addition of our own garden compost and the regular mulching deeply with organic matter.”

I continued onto the next page discussing the welcome appearance of sunshine in the February.

“Sunshine is not often in evidence this February but when it does make an appearance its effects are magical. It highlights the peeling bark of our trees and directs a spotlight on blossom and glossy foliage.”

2016 01 22_8035_edited-1 2016 01 22_8034_edited-12016 02 02_81162016 01 22_8024 2016 01 22_8008 2016 01 22_8009-1 2016 01 22_8018

As I turn the page I see that I have written about cold temperatures and on the opposite page and on the following double page spread I share the amazing number of plants in flower on one day in February.

2016 02 24_9070_edited-12016 02 24_9073_edited-1

“A sudden overnight plunge in temperature can have drastic looking effects on our early flowering plants. The flowering stem of this Bergenia can be standing to attention during the day but cold at night can make it droop, with the flowers almost touching the cold soil”.

2016 01 17_7930-1 2016 01 08_7763

“The following day when the sun has driven away any frost and added a degree or two to the temperature, the Bergenia flower slowly rises again and returns to its former pink glory.”

February flowers are celebrated over the next three pages. I hope you enjoy sharing this selection of plants that keep us cheerful and the garden colourful.

2016 02 18_8904_edited-1 2016 02 18_8901_edited-12016 02 18_8891_edited-1 2016 02 18_8878_edited-12016 02 18_8872_edited-1 2016 02 18_8879_edited-12016 02 18_8867_edited-1 2016 02 18_8847_edited-1 2016 02 18_8869_edited-1 2016 02 18_8863_edited-12016 02 18_8913_edited-1 2016 02 18_8871_edited-12016 02 18_8912_edited-1 2016 02 18_8866_edited-1 2016 02 18_8854_edited-1 2016 02 18_8853    2016 02 18_8887_edited-1 2016 02 18_8873_edited-1  2016 02 18_8902_edited-1 2016 02 18_8855_edited-1

These pictures certainly illustrate how colourful and interesting the garden can still be in the depths of winter. From flowers I moved on to foliage, as on my next double page spread I celebrate Phormiums and how important they are to the winter garden.

2016 02 24_9074_edited-1

“Form, texture and foliage colours are so important in the garden in winter, so we are lucky to have discovered and planted Phormiums as they give us all three. They move beautifully too, swaying in the slightest breeze.”

2016 02 13_8632 2016 02 13_8640 2016 02 13_8651

 

For some of our Phormium I took a shot of the whole plant and then one of the top surface of their leaves and finally the final surface. Their two surfaces are usually very different.

“I love plants that hide some facet of their beauty from us”.

2016 02 13_8633 2016 02 13_8634 2016 02 13_86352016 02 13_8630 2016 02 13_8639 2016 02 13_8638

2016 02 13_8655 2016 02 13_86532016 02 13_8654

2016 02 13_8631 2016 02 13_8637 2016 02 13_8636

In the final pages of my February entries in my Garden Journal I wrote about coloured stems and look back at my first garden journal to see what I had put for my February entry.  I discovered that I was writing about grass and grasses.

2016 02 24_9077_edited-1

“It is in the dull times of February that we appreciate the brightly coloured stems of our Cornus, Salix and Acers. Once their leaves drop the colours, yellows, oranges and reds begin to intensify. I then shared a watercolour painting of a selection of these stems from our garden alongside a trio of photos.”

2016 02 24_9078_edited-1 2016 02 18_88972016 02 18_8874 2016 02 18_8898

Looking back at my original Garden Journal, I notice that I had commented “14th February and the grass gets its first cut. As the North wind died out the strength of the winter sun meant a good day could be had doing general maintenance work.” This year our grassed areas are wet and slimy and definitely too slippery to get a mower on. But the grass has continued to grow slowly so it is in need of its first cut. Meanwhile our ornamental grasses continue to delight.”

2016 01 22_8033 2016 01 22_8032     2016 01 22_7998-1 2016 01 22_7999-1

So that is it for another month. Next time we make a visit to my Garden Journal we will be in March and maybe we shall be seeing signs of spring.

 

Categories
colours garden design garden photography gardening grasses hardy perennials ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs Winter Gardening winter gardens

A February Bouquet

DSC_0006nm

Nothing seems to have changed much in the garden since my “Bouquet for January” post. The ever-changing weather, moving from cold to very cold and back again appears to have stagnated growth. The first daffies have just opened and crocus in various colours are appearing around the borders.

DSC_0039n

There is a much wider range of Hellebores to enjoy though. I love having to bend down and lift their heads to find the secrets of their hidden beauty. Enjoy my Hellebore gallery.

The Prunus subhirtela autumnalis flowers have been browned by the weather and we have cut down many of the grasses and perennial seed heads. Now the garden is looking empty  but as a result of our tidying up we can appreciate the importance and impact that foliage plays in the February garden. Grasses and Phormium join with shrubs such as Pittosporum to give interesting colours and leaf patterns.

One of my favourite garden plants is the simple and much-maligned Bergenia. At this time of year the leaves take on deep shades of green, red and purple and the first of their flowers start showing colour before being lifted up on strong stems later on.

DSC_0048 DSC_0025 DSC_0021 DSC_0020 DSC_0014

Let us finish February off by wishing for signs of spring. Some sunshine perhaps? Blue sky? Just a few degrees more?

Categories
garden design garden photography gardening hardy perennials

Perfect Colour Combination

Why is it that however much effort we put into planning colour combinations of flowering plants in our garden, Mother Nature comes along and shows us how to do it properly and to show she is the boss.

We bought a beautiful new Sea Thrift with deep cerise flowers and contrasting purple foliage a few days ago and without thinking placed it next to a Bergenia. Walking past today I noticed that the flowers matched perfectly. Just check this out!

Categories
gardening hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs shrubs

Impulse buying at nurseries – is this true retail therapy?

We hate shopping in town centres, retail parks and especially supermarkets. How can people refer to such unpleasant things as being any sort of therapy? But put us in a nursery and everything seems different – we get tempted every time! We have just visited two of our favourite nurseries half an hour from home just into the Welsh countryside outside Welshpool, The Dingle and  its sister, The Derwin. We went to buy a couple of plants for a container that sits empty at the end of the central path in the back garden. It has long been crying out for some plants. We came back with a boot full of plants, some for that pot, some for another pot, some alpines, a couple of shrubs and some perennials. It happens to us all the time, but just look at our booty! We are definitely into coloured foliage.

Euphorbia Silver Swan and Euphorbia Walberton's Rudolf
Heucheras Frosted Violet and Mahogany
Hellebore lividus
Bergenias - Bach, Winterglut and Winter Glow.
Osmanthus x macrodonta and Luma apiculata "Glanleam Gold"