Three months ago we arrived back from seven weeks in Australia thinking that in large measure we’d put winter behind us while we were away. It seems to have been an exceptionally long haul into better weather and though the days are longer and the light brighter, the temperatures are no higher than they’ve been through most of the winter.
My main gripe is that I’ve been looking at too much bare soil for too long. Having no lawn is a factor, but not one I intend to change, but looking at other contributor’s end of month views I reckon I need to work on bringing my spring display forward by a month or more. For reasons that I don’t really understand, tulips, daffodils and crocuses lack longevity in our garden. I see no point in planting more of them. Bluebells, snowdrops, muscari, Camassia, Chionodoxa, wood anemone and Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ are doing well so it makes sense to work with them and close relatives. I need to get good populations going where they will be undisturbed while they are dormant. Snowdrops in particular I am forever accidentally digging up. I bought a new Muscari recently called ‘Blue Spike’ which is still flowering long after the others have finished.
Two other plants that I want more of are primroses and honesty. Primroses are one of my favourite wildflowers and they will grow almost anywhere. I intend collecting seed from the ones I have and growing lots to put in every empty corner I can find. Honesty I am growing for the first time this year, at least since childhood. I am growing ‘Corfu Blue’, that I grew from Special Plants seed last year and I just love the colour. With luck it will set seed and I shall have masses of it. There’s a really good maroon coloured one by the roadside near here that I shall also try and get some seed from.
There are a few other plants that are doing well now. Epimedium ‘Fröhnleiten’ is great for leaves and flowers at this time of year. My craftier half presses the whole flower spikes in her microwave flower press and uses them on cards. The honesty is proving a winner too, but individual flowers in that instance.
Trachystemon orientalis is a plant I have had for some years but it has very much benefitted from the brutal haircut I gave to the Camellia under which it grows. Then there is this white flowered thing, given to me by a gardening friend, with a name that just wont take root in my memory. I’ll have to ask her yet again.
I haven’t done well with the newer, snazzy Epimediums that have come along in large numbers in recent years. I am inclined to blame slugs for browsing the emerging shots. The truth is that as with so many failures, I am not at all sure what I am doing wrong. Epimedium pinnatum colchicum is doing so well on the other hand that having given away a large chunk of it, I still put a square meter or more of it through the shredder today. In its place will go the lovely Chrysoplenium davidianum that I couldn’t resist on Crûg’s stand at the Cornwall Garden Society spring show. The Disporum I bought at the same time isn’t out of its pot yet and the slugs have mauled it.
Like many people, I am fond of Salvias. I am having problems with them though. The sub-shrub types, like ‘Hot Lips’, grow extremely well and flower for several months. They get too big for where they are put in a season or at most two but when it comes to cutting them back there are usually no low shoots to cut to and they won’t break from bare stems. I suppose I need to treat them as annuals and take cuttings every year. The herbaceous types are generally fine if the slugs can be kept at bay.
This is my contribution to The Patient Gardener’s End of Month meme, to be found here.