Super pleased to have been asked to write an article for the spring edition of Hortus. Hortus is a fantastic journal of garden writing and I’ve been a fan for many years. Greg Barnes drew a lovely illustration of a Japanese anemone for the piece.
Marsh Marigold flowering stoically in the pond. The more this area of the garden develops (now in its 6th year since filling and planting up) the more I’m drawn to it. Garden ponds, no matter what the size or scale, are forever an eye witness source of evolution. You begin with a few periphery plants and before you know it you have all kinds of aquatic growth appearing from water mint and iris to frogs and damselflies. Marsh marigold however (Caltha palustris) is the true beacon in the bog, so to speak. It’s one of our oldest native wildflowers in fact, having pushed its little yellow light bulbs up through the thawing ice-age.
Although Summer isn’t revealing any early signs just yet, it’s not far round the corner. Rain has been falling continuously for over a week now and it couldn’t have arrived at a more essential time in the garden. The beds are looking better and the younger shrubs are recovering from long months of dry, breezy weather. Much unlike last year, we’re getting true April showers.
It’s been a varied but enveloping Spring, packed with new things as in each year, seen for the first time and bringing new understanding with a wider context. The lilacs are now ready to open and next into flower will come the philadelphus’, foxgloves and robinias, continuing a succession all the the way back round to the beginning.
Now that the earlier bulbs in the cutting beds, such as the tulips and daffodils, are going over, I’ll begin removing the rows, replanting the bulbs and replacing the stock. So my attention turns to the dahlias, cosmos, zinnias, cornflowers, marigolds, asters, cleomes and the many other annuals, as well as focussing on the vegetables.
Spring is in full and thorough swing now, and actually despite the somewhat worryingly abnormal Winter, things are looking good in the cutting beds. Better than I had anticipated in fact. Most of the early to mid-flowering tulips are out and growing strong, and I’ve begun allowing myself to pick a few for the house.
It’s our Open Gardens day on Sunday, and so the vicarage is opening it’s doors to the public for charity through the NGS scheme. I’m just hoping the giant magnolia holds on to a few of it’s flowers a little longer.
As is typical for most gardeners, March is much less of an ease into Spring as it is a fraught rush through the last of the Winter bulk jobs. There are wonderful signs all around however, that indicate the season of rebirth and intense colour has begun, and we’re midway through the age old procession of common bulb blooms; from crocuses all the way to alliums. I’ve watched the snowdrops and aconites fade, giving way to anemones, daffodils and Iris’. The tulips are now waving with full heads in the wind and soon there’ll be fritillaries in the woodland glade. Further steps in the succession of Spring bulbs will bring muscari, cammasias and bluebells, and this reliable story told annually through the specific make up of these flowers is unlike any other I can think of in the calendar.
But returning to the tasks at hand, and with an improvised deadline of Easter Sunday, I have still yet to finish the pond and the car park beds. These are both areas of the garden I have not spent a great deal of time working in, and I am determined to have them up to scratch and looking their best by the holiday. The race continues..
A relief to see the tips of the species daffodils, tulips and alliums popping up through the picking beds, right where they should be! It’s always a little unnerving after a late Autumn planting and long Winter’s waiting to see if the bulbs made it through. So many worrying potentials such as squirrels, rot and frost. It’s satisfying when the lines come up roughly straight too..