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.