The Rose garden looked fabulously colourful and abundant last June – if a little wild. It has been underplanted with Nepeta ‘Six hills giant’, which is a very popular and attractive ground-cover perennial for rose beds. It has many great features including a beautiful scent and the bees adore it. At the end of the summer it can be cut back to the ground leaving access to prune the roses. All in all a great choice. However,
It is a maintenance nightmare.
It grows tall and then collapses all over the roses. That shouldn’t be a problem because you can cut it back hard, to grow and flower again…and again. Fine, if that is all there is to do in the garden but it never is, so this year we made a choice to dig the Nepeta out of two of the quadrants and replant with Alchemilla mollis. This is another ground cover perennial with lime green flowers.
So one job this week was to divide Alchemilla from other parts of the garden and replace the Nepeta.
Quadrant with Nepeta
and one without…Hooray hooray! I can’t wait to see how it looks in the summer. Watch this space.
Another job this week was rose pruning around the tennis court (yes, we still haven’t finished all the roses yet)
Remembering that the plant is more floriferous if the main stems are trained towards the horizontal, (which gives us the opportunity for creativity and fun :-)) and to cut out some of the older stems making way for new growth.
Highlights of the gardens included these deep blue hyacinths
and Anemone blanda ‘Blue shades’
And the geese have returned and are already laying eggs
No golden ones yet though
Pauline brings bundles of style, colour and enthusiasm to the gardening team. I love listening to her wonderful, lilting, french accent when discussing all things horticultural.
Today Pauline gathered low growing bulbs and perennials, including primroses, Ipheion uniflorum or Spring Star and Cyclamen, and the small Hart’s tongue fern from around the garden to carefully plant up the gaps between the steps.
I am hoping they won’t be overwhelmed by those Spanish Bluebells and Camassia that have found their way there too.
We also went into the woods to collect Hazel sticks for plant supports. These will be made in the coming weeks, as the perennials start emerging again in the warmer soil and longer days…
Hazel and Dogwood stems
An early start at one of our jobs last week allowed me to share a cup of coffee with the client. You know how much someone loves their flowers when you see them languishing in jars and vases on the kitchen table basking in the spring sunshine.
and finally, more by accident than design, this combination of a grass and white crocus in a pot together… on some level, it works!!
Two years ago we had an opportunity to plant up an area besides the moat that had been neglected:
We wanted a low screen during the summer, winter interest, low maintenance and plants that would enjoy the boggy conditions. So we decided to go for a selection of willows. Several varieties were selected for their vibrant stem colours and we ordered some cuttings on-line. Following the planting guidelines we made our willow bed:
We covered the black plastic with wood chippings and away grew the willow. In February last year we coppiced the willow and developed another area with our own cuttings. This February we coppiced the willow again and this time have enough willow to make a willow basket.
I thought I would share with you a short video I made at home this week of my attempts to weave the willow basket, made from our very own, home grown, willow.
I hope that made you smile as much as it did me, on playback!
First of all, we finished our rustic arches for the clematis to grow over.. and somehow it felt like they should always have been there.
Secondly we made supports for the peonies (they are always top-heavy, especially when the flowers get wet) from dogwood cuttings that are lovely and pliable right now.
Thirdly, we have the most spectacular of plants to be flowering at this time of year, Euphorbia chariacas ‘Wolfenii’ – and this plant excels in the worst of conditions, very dry soil right next to the house and in the shade. Beautiful.
Gorgeous blue Muscari are being pushed up by the Tulip leaves growing from below to form a delightful dome shape, in this terracotta planter.
Although it is too late to plant up a container with bulbs like this for Spring, there are summer bulbs you can plant NOW which will flower this year. I have just treated ourselves to some Lilies which I have completely fallen in love with in the last couple of years. It is time to leaf through those plant catalogues or head up to a garden centre and treat yourselves too.
Lilium regale is the traditional English country garden variety. Tall, white, scented, trumpet flower with a purple hue to the bud. You won’t be disappointed by this stunning and statuesque plant which will just look better with more blooms every year.
As always there are many other varieties to choose. I have bought L. ‘Zambesi’, an Oriental x Trumpet scented lily and another tall orange Species lily L. ‘Henryi’ – both flowering in July and I can’t wait.
Why not plant up a hanging basket with
1 x Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ – a young shrub with wonderfully scented pink flowers, 2 x White Anemone blanda – also romantically known as ‘Windflowers’, 3 x Fritillaria meleagris – a spring flowering bulb known as the ‘snakes head’ fritillary due to the scale-like patterns on the petals.
After they have gone over this year, plant them in a group in the garden and enjoy them year after year after year….