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:

Tulip

 

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:

Daffs

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.

Muscari

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:

Wallflowers

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!

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!

Primulas and other Spring Beauties

With showers every day since the middle of August, the early spring garden is certainly making the most of the extra moisture.

Below is one of my favourite little annuals, Primula malacoides, putting on a show:

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Primula malacoides

A flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) has put on its first show since I planted it last autumn, very pretty too:

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Flowering currant

The Ipheion/Tritelia uniflorum continues to impress. The variegated dogwood is even starting to loose it’s red winter twigs:

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Spring Star

On the white side of the colour spectrum, the jonquils have started to open:

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Jonquils

As have the sweetly perfumed freesias:

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Freesias

And of course, the daffodil patch is coming along nicely:

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Daffodils

Most of the early ones have opened….the mid/late flowering ones are still quite small, but for a $4 investment, I’d say this is well worth it! Once these finish, hopefully the Lupins and the Asiatic lilies will start to fill the gaps until the slower shrubs (Rhododendrons, azaleas, viburnums and deutzias) fill the gaps.

As always, happy gardening!

The garden stirs to life

Even in a mild climate like mine, the first real stirrings of spring are always exciting. With heavy rain in the Sydney region over the last two weeks, the morning frosts have waned and the garden is really starting to embrace the change of season.

The first of the Dutch crocus that I planted in autumn are starting to sprout. The royal blue looks quite lovely against the Muscari which is starting to sprout many more flowers:

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Dutch Crocus

There are also white Dutch crocus, but these have yet to send up any flower spikes….the aim is to get these bulbs to naturalise through the bed for a repeat display.

Further along the bed, the Ipheion (spring star) are putting on a nice show beneath the red-twigged dogwood:

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Spring Star

The little plot of bargain daffodil bulbs is powering along. A nice cream one has emerged:

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Daffodils

This was the same area back in April, after I cleared the huge amount of Jasmine and Ivy:

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April 2014 – post clearing

But it’s not just the bulbs. The Kurume Azalea (to the right of the photo above) that took a fair beating in getting all of the vines removed from it has also started to flower. It is nothing spectacular, but it is an encouraging sign. More importantly, there is now new growth at the base of the plant which means the gaps will be filled within a few seasons. When the weather warms up it will need a haircut to try and bring some shape back to the crown, but for now….:

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Kurume Azalea

On the subject of plants that have been cut unkindly, the patio rose that I hacked to pieces is looking very healthy with a lot of new growth from the base:

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Patio Rose

This was the same rose in the middle of June, two weeks after I hacked it (roots and all) and transplanted it:

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Post prune and transplant

The Pieris japonica is still flowering beautifully:

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Pieris japonica – Late August

This display has been well over 6 weeks already and shows no signs of abating. Here it is in the post from last month (28 July):

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And, last month…..

Even the little cutting I took of the plant at the beginning of summer has flowered:

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Baby Pieris

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.

Muscari

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 🙂

Primula

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!