This Week in the Garden.

Even though it is cold and wet today, we’ve had weeks of sunny and mild weather, meaning spring continues its early march. And it is mostly the bulbs that are early to flower, especially in the sheltered micro-climate of the secret garden area where Tulips are commanding my attention:

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Tulips

Clockwise L-R: Mixed Tulips (Monet Series); Species Tulip (Tulipa bakerei) ‘Lilac Wonder’; Bokassa Tulips ‘Baby Doll’

Narcissi in the other areas of the garden have finally started to open:

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The Cockatoo has actually left the white Narcissi alone!

Compare this to the Narcissi in the secret garden area which are so far ahead:

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The scent in the secret garden is heavenly on still, sunny days…let me tell you!

The first Freesias have opened:

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Muscari still continue to put on a lovely display. The secret garden area was the first to open, and now the rest of the garden is following suit.

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I love the contrast between the Erysimum and the Muscari:

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Most of the Erysimum in the garden have started blooming and I really adore some of the burnt reds and oranges:

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Pink Muscari are something of a disappointment. They have really only just started opening, and the pink is very subtle (to say the least). As they fill out in the next year or so, they may look impressive, but for now, I’ll reserve judgement. The garden centre did however include an unknown bulb in the mix which is far lovelier than the Muscari!

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Ipheon continue to give a lovely display and have been going since mid winter which is quite incredible.

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Anemone and Ranunculus are also starting to show promise:

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But not everything in the garden is early. In areas which only receive partial sun, my cold climate wins out.

For instance, when I lived in the UK, Cyclamen and Pulmonaria were considered mid-late winter flowers. However here, they have only just started to open, but are delightful none-the-less.

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Happy Gardening!

Wednesday Vignette – Glistening Jewels

Muscari armeniacum remind me of jewels at the best of times, but it is even more pronounced after rain when they glisten in the gloom.

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And, thanks to a sheltered micro-climate, these are in bloom well before any others in the garden….giving me a taste of spring even though it is still winter.

Linking up with Flutter and Hum’s Wednesday Vignette. Do check out what others have thought worthwhile of a happy-snap around the world!

Happy Gardening 🙂

Is it Spring Already?

Not quite.

It’s snowing again and more is forecast this afternoon.

Thankfully it’s not heavy like two weeks ago and is only settling in tiny, icy drifts as it is just too windy for anything substantial to stay on the ground.

The bitter wind-chill is -18°C / -1°F, and, coupled with the actual air temperature still below freezing at midday, it is particularly unpleasant outside.

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Icy snow crystals. I’m sure the Inuit have a word for this wind-blown stuff. I have to post this to prove it is still winter as the following pictures look like mid-spring!

But try telling that to some parts of the garden!


In the little sheltered microclimates I have created with fences, under tall evergreens and by enclosing spaces around outbuildings – and mulching all garden beds –  has meant that spring has started in a few select spots in the garden.

Even on a frigid day like today, stepping into these parts of the garden is noticeably warmer; the howling gale is reduced to a noisy breeze and the wind-blown snow hasn’t settled…here I can actually take my gloves off to press the I-pad camera button.

While the rest of the garden is still grey, brown and still stuck in winter, these little micro-climates really lift the spirits and extend the spring blooming season ahead for months!

So here it is….pictures from the most sheltered parts of the garden, that make a liar of my assertions that it is still cold :-).

First up, little dwarf Narcissi ‘Little Gem’ :

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Narcissus ‘Little Gem’ near an emerging Spanish Bluebell

Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’:

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Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’

The brilliant yellows certainly brighten any dreary day.

Muscari armeniacum in this area have also punched through the chill with their precious little jewel-like grapes:

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Muscari armeniacum

 Primulas are starting to put on a great display; first is the annual candelabra variety:

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Primula malacoides

The more traditional, Primula vulgaris also joins in. This cultivar is ‘High Tea Drumcliff’ it has fabulous deep green leaves:

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Primula vulgaris ‘High Tea Drumcliff’

Ipheon uniflorum – which started flowering over a month ago, is really doing well in this part of the garden. Other clumps elsewhere have not even begun to stir, so it will be great to get months of these delicate blue beauties:

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Ipheon uniflorum

A little Nemesia aromatica plug that I planted in autumn has started to perform; it normally smells lovely, but the air is too cold to enjoy the perfume today:

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Nemesia aromatica

The same goes for the Daphne odora in this sheltered, warm part of the garden. Even though its first flowers have opened, the chill makes it impossible to smell anything:

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Daphne odora

Helleborus are heralding the end of winter. These were all put in as tiny plugs last year, so it is really heartening to see them start to flower so soon:

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Helleborus niger

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Helleborus niger

But some warm microclimates weren’t created by me. I’ve just taken advantage of them. The front of the house faces due North and gets all-day sun.

Unlike the siding of the rest of the house, the basement wall is brick, and I’ve painted it a dark colour to ensure as much heat as possible is retained.

It works a treat, and I get roses blooming in mid-winter on bare branches:

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Climbing Iceberg Roses and Osteospermums love this warm, sheltered spot

It’s quite an odd thing to see, but I’m rather warming to it 🙂

Happy Gardening!

Marguerites and Climbing Roses

I thought that something a little more ‘genteel’ after last weeks’ post would be in order.

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Argyranthemum frutescens “Crazy Daisy”

The Marguerite has started blooming and provides a nice contrast to the more saturated colours of the Osteospermums dotted around the garden.

With the warmer weather, the Iceland Poppies are now starting to put on a better display: the little Muscari bulbs have been flowering since late July.

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Iceland Poppies

I took advantage of the nice weather on the weekend and dug a new foundation bed. This bed is on the shady, eastern side of the house underneath many established trees, including a large Japanese Maple which has burst into leaf and flower. I just love the translucent green of new spring growth:

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Acer palmatum in flower

Given the summer shade, the new bed will have azaleas and hydrangeas (all of these were just grown from cuttings), primroses, tiarellas and other woodland lovers.

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New garden bed – mostly just tubestock and cuttings

At the sunny end of the bed, I have planted a Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ shrub – this will pick up the golden hues of the Pencil Pine at the front of the house. Also a couple of other new Japanese Maple seedlings dotted along the beds on either side of the path will make this a very tranquil space, even though at just 8m/24′ wide, it is somewhat narrow.

At the other end of the opposite bed and a suitable distance from the house I planted a Dawn Redwood – Metasequoia glyptostroboides – last summer . Even though the soil here is sandy and rocky which will act as a natural growth inhibitor (the dawn redwood likes deep alluvial soils if it is to reach its full potential), this will still be a big tree in my lifetime: it should grow approximately 1m/3′ each year for the next 20 years, so it will be interesting to track its progress from chest height sapling to forest giant 🙂

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Dawn Redwood bursts into leaf

In the food garden, the evergreen blueberries that I planted in July are laden with flowers turning into fruit. The deciduous ones are just coming into bud, so it will be fantastic to be able to pick blueberries from as early as next month until late autumn from just seven little plants

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Evergreen blueberry

The strawberries are in flower. One of them, Fragaria ananassa ‘fragoo’ even sports the most delicate pink blossom which is just delightful:

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Pretty strawberry blossom

And lastly, one the climbing roses that I planted as bare root stock have started to flower. It sure is a beauty – this one is ‘Blushing Pierre de Ronsard’:

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Climbing ‘Pierre de Ronsard’

The idea is to train these up the basement wall, staircase and veranda railings at the front of the house (the other side of the house has climbing Iceberg roses). The old fashioned blooms on this one are very pretty and fragrant.

As always, happy gardening 🙂

The First Spring Bulbs

What a difference a week can make in the garden.

With the weather going up and down like a yo-yo, it’s interesting to see the first real stirrings for the season ahead.

First up is Ipheon. I planted this up last autumn; it has a lovely pale blue flower. There should be quite a number more to come. Here it makes a nice contrast with the red-twigged dogwood.

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Spring Star

Next to make an appearance is the Muscari. Again, this was planted last autumn, so I will be keen to see any improvement as the spikes emerge.

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Grape Hyacinth

Lastly, even though it’s not a bulb, the first little Primula flower has also opened, so it can have a place here too, as it is probably one of my favourites 🙂

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Primula

The first stirrings of spring (even in a mild climate like mine) are always so subtle and call for a keen eye, but I guess that is part of the fun!