Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Glorious days, chilly at night - March GBBD

The warm winter weather we had in December and January is long forgotten, it has been a very long spell of night temperatures down to almost freezing for ages - more or less the last 6 weeks. As soon as the sun goes down it gets cold very quickly and it will typically be min. 2-5 C at night. The day temperatures are not bad though, 8-12 C (46 – 53 F) and the sun is getting stronger every day. But I am fed up with dragging tender plants in and out of my shed so a few more degrees at night would make all the difference. In my garden I have only had 3 proper frost nights this winter, one in November, one in February and one so far in March – each night the temperature went down to -1 C for a few hours just before sunrise, and by the time the sun was up the temp was well into plus again. Winter in London isn’t much to write home about really! And I have had no snow this winter either....hope I don’t jinx it by saying that, I certainly don’t need any snow this late – but the latest I have seen snow here in London is actually 8th April! It didn’t lay long of course, was gone after a few hours, but even so, no thank you, I am more than ready for nice warm weather now.

The garden, here basking in March sunshine. Because of the relatively low temperatures most things are just holding on and waiting for warmer weather. Two years ago, my magnolia was in full flower for March GBBD, last year it was a bit later but some of the buds had split – this year there isn’t sign of buds even near opening. The apple tree is holding on to its leaf buds and so is the plum tree. It is like everything is holding their breath, waiting for just a bit warmer days and nights – and so do I.

This is where I am working right now, in the Wall Bed, where many of the roses, lilies and dahlias are going. I have spent the last 6 months taking the Virginia Creeper off the wall and trellis, piece by piece, root by root, and I am finally seeing the end, just got the last bit next to the shed left to do. I am sure I have left hundreds of smaller root pieces in the ground, but I hope they won’t start sprouting. I will not be able to get it all out unless the whole bed is dug up a foot deep, turned over and sifted and put back again. There is NO WAY that’s going to happen.

When I haven’t been stripping Virginia Creeper off the wall, I have been here in the Woodland Bed, planting.

The Woodland Bed is now quite full with plants I brought with me from my previous garden, most of which has not come up yet, like different types of trilliums, arisaemas, mouse plants, arums, ferns, 3 types of tricyrtis, cyclamens, hellebores, disporopsis, crocus, anemone, Dicentra formosa, Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Valentine', Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Alba' and lots of different types of Primula vulgaris. I am sure I will be able to squeeze in a few more plants here and there, but when they all come up it will be a nice succession of flowers 52 weeks a year, just like I had it at the bottom of my garden at my previous house. The little bed in the middle is also planted up, with Arisaema amurense, Primula vulgaris and Saxifraga stolonifera – the last one is also used as a houseplant and in Norway where I come from, we call this plant ‘Mother with thousand children’. These plants will obviously get lots of children outdoors too, so that’s why I thought the small bed would be a good place for them – easier to keep them in check. I do like them, and the flowers are wonderful in mid-summer, but not over the entire garden.

Moving on to the rest of the Woodland Bed, nothing more has been planted because I am struggling with a root from a Forsythia I am getting rid of. I have been sitting on my gardening stool next to this hole every day for the last 2 weeks, excavating around the roots and now I am admitting defeat. I am getting some help in to get this root out.

Next to the Woodland Bed is the Pond Area – so called because once upon a time there has been a pond here according to previous tenant. I would love to have a pond here, and I know how to make it – it involves a butyl liner, underlay, wood for the edges and a lot of work. But before all that can go ahead there is the small issue of the 2 ton of soil that the pond area currently is filled with. All the soil has to be dug out, and has to be put somewhere. This will be a project for some time in the future I think. In the mean time I managed to get my first water feature, never had one of those, but a half-price sale got me tempted.

The water feature is solar powered and as long as the sun is shining reasonably well, the water is trickling down by the pump in the bottom bowl. It is a soothing sound and I love it already. It is quite small – all I could afford, but I will have it here on the edge of the pond so it will fit nicely in once the pond has been edged.

I have ordered a small table and two chairs to have next to the Pond Area, and when the fence behind it has been painted it will look even better, that fence is heading for a rich, dark plum colour and together with the grey water feature and wooden pond edge, with some nice waterlilies growing in the pond....well, I can see it in my mind, can you?

It’s just a small matter of getting that root out. You can’t really see it in this picture, but the hole is so deep that when I am sitting on my stool I can no longer reach down to the bottom of it. I am actually getting help today, the root will either be lifted out, or more likely, cut off in several places so it doesn’t re-grow and won’t be visible once the soil is put back again.

The soil I have dug out so far has been put to good use. I have built up a mound in the middle of the Woodland Bed and I have used some of the roots previously dug out to make a tiny, miniature stumpery. I have always wanted some sort of garden statue, but I can’t find anything I like in a size that would be suitable for my garden – for a price I can afford. There are lots of angles and fairies, but that’s not really me. And I am certainly no gnome gardener either. I have been trying to find a more abstract sculpture, and there are lots of lovely ones – but incredibly expensive.

So when all these roots had to be dug out, the idea of using them came as they are free and would have just ended up in the council’s garden waste. I wish they were 3 times bigger, that would have been cool – in terms of displaying them, NOT digging them out.

I love these gnarly pieces and the different structures. I have planted lots of plants around the roots, when everything is more mature I think it will look more natural.

The Woodland Bed is bathed in late afternoon sunshine in this photo, but once the apple tree gets leaves on it will cast shade on the bed during the day, helping to keep the plants cool during the hottest part of the day. The sun is also much higher in the sky and shines more from above in the summer so the two ceanothus’ will help to create shade.

Here is a photo from July last year, with the apple tree heavy with fruit. I had to cut off some of those branches last year to be able to move around the tree so the tree is more upright now. The ceanothus’ in the background has had its crown lifted a bit so it is possible to walk under it and all the bushes that were there have now gone.

And the best part of this Woodland Bed is the ceanothus I think. These flowers are just gorgeous and there are hundreds if not thousands of them.


And under the ceanothus’ are all the typical woodland plants, here are Primula vulgaris, crocus and cyclamen.

More crocus in the glorious sunshine.

The daffodils I planted just 2 weeks before Christmas are finally flowering. Yes, I know, very late!! But with moving house and everything else I just didn’t get around to plant the daffodils until that late. They are all on their way up though, no harm done, just a bit late.

This cyclamen has incredibly nice coloured flowers.

All the hyacinths have been flowering for a while, these look like sweets or candy, ready to pop straight into your mouth. Very tempting!

Helleborus hybridus 'Picotee' is looking gorgeous in the sunshine.

Helleborus niger is almost past flowering now and busy setting seed. I like this pink colour the flowers get towards the end of the flowering period.

And the mouse plants are still in flower, I got lots of them!

The next bit to sort out is this Sunny bed, I haven’t touched it yet, it is just a place where all the pots fighting for enough sunshine is stacked at the moment.

Working in my garden has unearthed some strange things, last week I found a whole, big screwdriver in one of the flower beds, I am sure the owner must have been looking for it at some point! And the other day I found a rusty hammer head. Not sure how it ended up in the flower bed but I took it out. I don’t think it will produce anything green, no matter how long it is left to germinate! Mind you, the most exotic I could find in my garden would probably be a German WW2 bomb, the area I live in now was bombed to pieces during the war and every now and then we hear about people who has been digging in their gardens and found an old bomb. All work stop for a couple of days until the bomb can be disarmed, the newspapers get their photo-op - and then normal life can resume. I suppose finding old tools in the flowerbeds are not so bad after all, they don’t bite or explode!

When I moved in there were 4 big Acanthus spread around the garden and loads of smaller Acanthus babies. This photo is from May last year - I have tried to get rid of them as Acanthus is not exactly a thing of beauty although the flower spikes can be quite interesting in the right setting – and the work has proved just as difficult as I thought it would be.

On the left side of the trellis in this picture I have been clearing out one the many Acanthus’, and the plant was lifted with as much roots as possible. But the roots break easily and can re-grow very easily from roots left in the ground.

So this week I have taken out soil in a wide circle around where that acanthus in the Wall Bed used to grow, in an attempt to find roots still left in the ground and I found some.  A lot. An enormous amount! Every little 2cm piece of root has the potential to grow into a new, huge, towering Acanthus plant....Anyone want to have an Acanthus or two – or hundreds??

Before I end today’s post there is just time to show you the first rosebud of 2016. It is still small but nevertheless, the roses are on their way.

And while waiting for the roses to bloom I have chaenomeles flowering still, this is Chaenomeles × superba ‘Crimson and Gold’ and the other one I have, 'Moerloosei' is just about to open its buds. This red one, ‘Crimson and Gold’ has lived in this container since I re-designed my previous garden in 2011. It was just never planted again after that as it seems happy enough in the container. And 'Moerloosei' is in a container too so perhaps they both can get a life permanently in the ground soon.

But despite living in a container for the last 5 years, the flowers look just as spectacular.

That was it for today’s middle of the month roundup and presentation of what’s flowering for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. If you come back on the last day of March there will be another video from the garden and photos of what’s happening.
Hope to see you then, until next time, take care.

I am linking today’s post to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, please visit her for many more Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts. 

41 comments:

  1. Hei Helene

    Så flott å se vårblomster fra hagen din! Helleborus Picote er min store favoritt. Heldige deg som har vår allerede, for her er det fortsatt masse snø etter de 30 cm vi fikk i forrige uke. Woodlandbedet ditt blir veldig flott. Det er de bedene jeg liker best, og jeg skulle ønske at jeg hadde mer skygge her.

    Ha en fin vårdag!

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    1. Ja, det er flott i London om våren – kontrasten til Norge er spesielt stor akkurat nå! Jeg jobber fortsatt med Woodland Bedet, og den ene enden ved ponden har mye mere sol så der skal det bli liljer, campanula og pelargonias.
      Ha en fin dag i hagen!

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  2. It was a joy to read your gardenpost this morning. I love those little mouse plants in your shade garden, I put them on my wishlist. I really can imagine how it will look like when the walls are painted plum colour, your water feature is working and you are sitting on your new chair enjoying your lush green garden in the sunlight with many flowering plants. You did already a lot of work. I have been pruning roses every day a few hours, love the spring weather, good to work in the garden, it's cold but sunny, hurray.

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    1. Thanks Janneke, I try to have a vision with everything I do – doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind underway, but every piece of the garden should eventually fit together as a whole….eventually :-)
      It’s been cold here too, today it was no sun and especially cold. I am ready for warmer weather!

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  3. Helene, I'm glad you're getting help in your struggle with Virginia creeper. It's very hard work to strip its roots, dear. Your new water feature is so pretty and I can hear the sound of water too. It's a treat to sit near a pond, as I do when have free time and look at water plants and creatures.
    Love your cyclamens, it's pity they aren't hardy for our climate.

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    1. Thanks Nadezda, the last piece of the Virginia Creeper was taken out today, but I still got lots behind the shed to take out – that’s going to have to wait for now. The main thing was to clear the bed and that’s done, finally! All my cyclamens are hardy, I have never thought about them as being particularly tender, but my winters are mild :-)

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  4. It has certainly been a very unpredictable winter. Your Ceanothus blooms,crocus and hyacinths are so welcoming and your first rosebud says that spring weather is not far away. I am also enjoying all the little touches you are adding to your new gardens and watching them develop in each post. Happy Bloom Day!

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    1. Thanks Lee, nice to have you following my progress, it’s all done on a shoestring budget (beg, borrow and steal!) so that of course limits what I can do, but I have lots of ideas to come. Have you noticed ‘The Path to Nowhere’? Between the Plumtree Bed and the Rose Bed/Wall Bed? I got an exciting idea for this space, it will cost more money than I have just now so perhaps a collective birthday and Christmas present from my family….time will tell!
      Happy GBBD!

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    2. Looking forward to seeing your idea! Happy gardening Helene!

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  5. Your garden is going through a very exciting phase - its planning and development. And all the Spring, Summer and Autumn to look forward to!
    I am like Nadezda, envious of your overwintered none hardy cyclamen. Mine have overwintered too through this mild Winter but what seems normal for you is exceptional for me 'up north'.

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    1. Thanks Roger, I don’t really know anything else than cyclamens that survive the winters – never had any die and the big ones are evergreen so keep their leaves even in the summer.

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  6. Hi Helene, you have been doing quite some more clearing in your garden, haven't you? Glad for you that you are almost finished with the Virgina Creeper and that you get help to remove the Forsythia root.
    Your woodland border is already lovely and I am looking forward to seeing all the plants coming up that are still sleeping in the ground in that part of your garden.
    I love the color of you hyacinths. Your comparison with candy is quite adequate!
    Your filled daffodils are so very striking! If you are thinking you planted them late, then just know that I planted my Paperwhites in February this year! But they are very forgiving and four have come up so far.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thank Christine, I am almost finished clearing out and tidying up – now the fun process has started with planting! The Forsythia root was lifted Tuesday so now that bed is ready too to get plants in. The daffodils are called Narcissus ‘Golden Ducat’, they are lovely :-)
      Have a good week-end in the garden!

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  7. Fabulous sights and how far you have come...inspiring me to keep going with my plans moving slow and methodically...taking my time....patience! I think the Woodland bed is becoming my favorite.

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    1. Thanks Donna, I find it hard to have favourite plants but I do very much like woodland plants and the mood it creates.

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  8. It's wonderful to see your garden coming together, Helene! Even though everything seems to do extremely well in pots, I know your garden is going to be absolutely spectacular when everything has been planted out. I love the woodland bed already and I think your construction of the mini-stumpery was inspired.

    I had to laugh at your comments about the Acanthus. I recently moved some Acanthus from other areas of my garden, acting with a degree of trepidation as I know that, once planted, Acanthus are nearly impossible to get rid of. I'll probably end up with them growing back in their old locations plus the new location. Their huge leaves are the principal draw for me as there are very few large-leaved plants I can grow that don't require an excess of water. Here, they "melt" in full sun but they make a statement in shady areas, as long as they're contained, but, in a year or two, I may be kicking myself!

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    1. Thanks Kris, glad you liked my mini version of a stumpery, over here stumperies have been created since Victorian times but they went out of fashion for a long time. https://parksandgardensuk.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/stumperies
      As for acanthus….I hope I won’t have hundreds of acanthus babies coming up in the summer, if so I will have to test out the Roundup Gel I bought last year but never found a use for!

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  9. Beautiful flowers and the water feature is so interesting! I like it!

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    1. Thanks, I have always wanted a water feature!

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  10. Hei! Tusen takk for hyggelig hilsen på min blogg! Stikk gjerne innom igjen for litt hagenytt fra Norge :-) Ha en fin dag!

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    1. Tusen takk, det skal jeg gjøre :-)
      Ha en fin dag i hagen!

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  11. Acanthus are persistent aren't they? I made the mistake of planting some years ago and still they pop up.

    I love water in the garden and so do the birds.

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    1. I hope I have dug out enough to stop them from re-sprouting, the last week I have been tackling a second one – just 2 more to attack and then they are all gone!

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  12. It will be so exciting this year, watching it all come together. I feel that very much here, wanting to see the results of all the previous year's effort. I'm sure you feel the same. The colouring of Helleborus 'Picotee' is just gorgeous!

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    1. Yes, it is exciting to see all the plans that swirl around in my head actually take form, but I know it will take another year or possibly two before the garden will look like it is intended to, this year it is very much that ‘new planted look’. You are a couple of years before me so can see the result of what you have done already, I’ll get there eventually!
      I can’t remember where I got ‘Picotee’ from, but it is so lovely. Many of my mature hellebores did not take well to be dug up and squeezed into pots – and then left in pots all last year. ‘Picotee’ and a couple of other didn’t mind, but some actually died – and some are just sulking so I hope they are better next year.

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  13. Hi, Helene; it's been awhile since I've visited, and my, what a change there's been in your garden! It is really coming all together nicely. I can sympathize with you on digging out those forsythia roots.I wanted to get rid of some overgrown yews, so we cut them down--probably should have pulled them out instead. I dug and dug, but I swear those roots went down to the center of the earth! Finally, a neighbor with a backhoe dug them all out, or I'd still be digging:)

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    1. The forsythia root is out. Yah! Good to have help to ask when I just have to admit defeat :-)
      I have been here in my new house and garden for 10 months now and although I feel it has been a slow process I can understand you can see a difference being a while since you visited. It just has to take the time it takes - me doing things on my own is very slow, but I get there in the end and I do have a goal of just a minimum of pots to water once summer starts so that’s what I am working towards.

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  14. Fantastic to see your garden Helene. And you will be happy to have water in the garden. And no big expensive pumps are necessary if you plant enough oxygen plants. I have a pond since we moved in to this house 18 years ago and the water is still clear. It's beautiful to see that wildlife finds it's way to the pond. Specially the frogs. I love the choirs on a warm evening.
    I wish you a beautiful weekend and spring is on it's way.
    Rosehugs Marijke

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    1. Thanks Marijke, I have already made a shortlist of mice plants to add to the pond if and when I get it sorted. I want to have enough oxygenating plants so it won’t create a problem and I have my eyes on some amazing miniature lilies so I should be able to fit a few in even if the pond isn’t that big. All that is a bit down on my priority list and will cost money to install so might possibly have to wait until next year, but I am definitely having it. This year the priority is to install a soaker hose for the whole garden so I don’t have to water. Exciting stuff, I have never had soaker hose before :-)

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  15. Helene,
    I love watching how your new garden becomes your own green space. You have worked hard.

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    1. Thanks Aga, it’s been a lot of work, but I love the process – besides, a garden of mine is never finished :-)

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  16. Those Ceonothus blooms are gorgeous! I think I saw some blooming in California while we were there. It's so interesting to hear you say the Daffodils are late, when ours usually bloom in mid-April. I LOVE your water feature! I'm imagining little birds flying in and out of it--taking sips and bathing. It must be a wonderful, soothing sound!

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    1. Ceanothus is also called Californian lilac over here – possibly because they are common in California, but they are as common here in Britain as any plant I can think of, you see them everywhere! Many are not as big as mine though because people prune them and keep them small, but you can’t prune into old wood so over the years they will get bigger and bigger. I love mine and feel very fortunate to inherit two such mature ones – it kind of makes up for losing that incredibly amazing old camellia I had in my previous garden – I miss it.
      I don’t think the birds have discovered the water feature yet, they are mainly on the other side where the food and the birdbath is, but when the area around the pond is finished I will hang up some birdfeeders to encourage the birds to come here too.

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  17. Hi Helene, your winter sounds very much like ours was. We are having some near freezing night time temps this week, but the days are warming up. Our last frost date is not till April 15. After that it is safe to put out less hardy plants. I hope the weather will stay mild for a while and not leap directly into summer! I love your ceanothus! Your garden has come a long way in a year!

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    1. Thanks Debbie, my garden is slowly progressing and with the nice, dry weather we are having now I get to do a little bit every day. My two ceanothus’ will be in full flower in mid to late April so I will post photos then. I have always wanted a jacaranda, but since the British weather is not really suitable for that, ceanothus is a nice substitute :-)

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  18. Your garden is really coming along Helene. I hope after all your hard work that the Virginia Creeper is gone for good. Vines are hard to get rid of. I like the new water feature! A pond in its old position will be nice someday, but for now, the little jug water feature will be relaxing and enjoyable I am sure.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, I also hope that the Virginia creeper won’t re-sprout in hundreds of places, but I still have some left behind the shed – not sure how to get rid of that part so I might have to use Roundup there. I actually liked the Virginia creeper very much – but only for the 6 weeks in the autumn when the leaves turned red, so I have saved 2 large roots and put them in large containers, not sure if they will grow well, but it will be an experiment. I will create two tall obelisks of the vine and keep them at the back of the garden for most of the year – and in the autumn they will be moved to a prominent place so the nice leaves can be admired. It’s an experiment :-)

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  19. It has been a treat to watch your amazing transformation of this space, and the best is yet to come. Your work and dedication are inspiring.

    Digging out a rootball is my least favorite task. Good to have some help.

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    1. Thanks, I am plodding on and I feel it takes an awful long time - but I am here every day :) The planting is the best bit and I have finally started on that, will be planting for another few months though!

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  20. Everything is coming on well in your garden Helene, I am split on whether I would like your conditions rather than mine but I think I will settle for what I have and being a "Northener" I wouldn't be able to survive in the South even if the plants could! Acanthus...........Good luck with that:-)

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    1. Thanks Rick, I really appreciate the fact that we have hardly any snow and frost here in London and that I can grow almost anything here. I am aiming to grow bougainvillea outside this year – you don’t see many of them in British gardens!
      It will be interesting to see if my work with removing acanthus roots is enough, or if the plants will just say HA! HA! – and re-sprout thousands of places.

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