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Gardening in lockdown – Solestemon

Coleus were so popular as house plants for years, grown for their amazingly, coloured, patterned and shaped leaves. They used to flower but the blooms were a waste of time and often weakened the plants enough to finish them off.

We are now growing a collection of named varieties in the greenhouse for summer interest. We grew them all from plug plants. The botanists have now changed their name from coleus to solestemon, a much uglier name!

Here is a gallery of our collection for you to enjoy. As usual just click on the first photo and navigate using the arrows.

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allotments garden photography gardening hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire village gardens Winter Gardening

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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colours garden photography gardening gardens grasses hardy perennials light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shrewsbury Shropshire shrubs trees village gardens Winter Gardening winter gardens

My Garden Journal 2019 – December

My Garden Journal 2019 comes to an end this month, so here are the entries for December.

On the first page I wrote, “December sees most of the berries stripped from our shrubs and trees by dozens of  thrushes including migrants who like our winter weather. A few berries remain to enhance he odd flowers, the grasses, seed-heads and evergreen shrubs.”

Over onto the next page I feature some of the more unusual and very subtle coloured foliage in our December patch.

I wrote, “Unusual coloured foliage of our evergreen shrubs come to the fore even on the dullest of days. Bronzes, browns, blushes, purples, blues, greys and greens with flecks of yellow.”

 

Over onto the third page for December and I talk of how much there is to see in our garden if you look down at your feet! “In our garden in winter it pays to look down. Silver glows and glistens at our feet. Silver leaf markings take on so many shapes and patterns.”

     

So just one final page for my December entries for 2019! Maybe my next year’s garden journal will be completely different?

 

For the last page of my 2019 Garden Journal I wrote, “I love sunny winter days when the low sun catches the colour and texture of twig and bark.” Then I featured a collection of ten photos of the light doing just that to a few of our trees and shrubs.