Like most people who live in the northern hemisphere in less than balmy conditions, most of my gardening is currently being done indoors. The veg seed order is nearly ready to place, I just have to decide what broad beans to grow this year, pick shallots, and prune my salad leaves order. It doesn’t help that I finally persuaded myself that buying Charles Dowding’s “Salads for all Seasons” book was a justifiable investment rather than pure indulgence…
Mostly, though, I have been pondering about the front garden – how to landscape it, what plants to grow, what feeling I want it to evoke. I’ll post more about that another day, but suffice to say that I had got to the point when thinking about border edgings meant that I needed to work out what length of edging I could get out of my circle bed. Which meant braving the 5C outdoors. So I got all my clobber on and decided to grab my camera too, so that I could look for signs of Spring bulbs.
It has been one of the more tantalising aspects of inheriting a new garden, wondering what bulbs might pop up, and where. I started in the back, with the border that runs alongside the kitchen garden. Nowt, not even signs of growth from the bulbs I had planted myself, although given that these are species tulips and anenomes, it would be surprising to see them this early. Moving further along, I was surprised and heartened to see that there are small clumps of bulbs pushing up around the base of the stumps of the large conifers we removed.
I doubt I would have been able to see them had the conifers still been in residence, so yet another reason to be glad to have got rid of them.
The back border has surprisingly few signs of bulbs, something I plan to change over time, and there is no sign of the tete-a-tete dwarf daffs I planted around the bamboo as yet. There are a couple of clumps though, and once I move the large fern that is smothering some of the primulas I inherited they should be very visible from the house, which will be lovely.
Wandering up the path through the side garden, home of the rockery that I plan to turn in to the raspberry bed, I can see quite a few bulbs popping up, along with what looks like some pulmonarias.
At least, I think these are pulmonarias, they are one of those plants that I have always wondered about trying but never got around to.
There is one clump of bulbs on the other side of the path too, but what really pleased me was that I appear to have some crocuses after all.
They are popping up in the rather unprepossessing bed that runs along the edge of the driveway between us and next door. It is mostly full of a worryingly large sycamore seedling, some hydrangeas and some fuchsias. Very little ivy, which is surprising, but in one bare patch under a hydrandea that utterly failed to flower last year, definite signs of what I am hoping are crocuses. I haven’t given this bed any real thought at all, not least because the bins and a boat make it hard to get to. The crocuses could redeem it in my eyes though, and award it some attention this year after all!
Moving in to the front garden, there are the inevitable signs that I failed to clear all the crocosmia from the corner that is meant to be all white, purple and blue, which I expected, but I was interested to see what looks like some tulips popping up, though clearly something has been unearthing them for me too.
A neighbour told me that the previous owners had lots of red and yellow tulips out the front, so I am not expecting anything that I will want to keep out there, but at least there might be some flowers for cutting, and I am sure I can find space for them in the back somewhere. An even better surprise was to spot new growth on the fuchsia that is growing above them.
This is one of the plants I moved last Autumn, along with a ceanothus. I knew the latter hate to be moved, so was unsurprised to lose it, but the fuchsia wilted terribly once transplanted, despite plenty of a water and a good trim. It probably won’t stay there long term, but it will fill the space made by the removal of a rather boring conifer while I work out what I really want to do there. I’m glad it seems to have survived after all, and even more glad that I let it be “just in case, I came very close to yanking it out!
It is a shame that there appear to be no bulbs in the gravel area around the pond, it seems like such an obvious place to have some spring colour to me, but who knows, maybe something will pop up later. There isn’t much showing in the fence border either, just a couple of small clumps of what might be daffs, all but smothered by the ivy I have yet to clear.
Up near the house, amongst the abundance of chippings in the gaps where shrubs have been removed, clumps of Spannish bluebells are emerging. I know what these are thanks to the photos on the property particulars and the shots I took myself when we first viewed the house. They will make a welcome splash of colour but it is a shame that they aren’t our native bluebells. I just hope there are no native bluebells over the fence in the park, I would hate for my lot to pollute the gene pool!
Having looked at the photos again, I wonder if actually all the blubs I can see popping up in the fence border are bluebells. Can’t wait to find out…
It isn’t just the possibility of bulbs that I have been wondering about since I moved here. There is a hamamelis at the centre of the circle bed. I only know what it is thanks to gardening-sil, who said “oh, how lovely to have a witch hazel” when she first saw the garden, but ever since I have been wondering what colour it would turn out to be. Given the red theme that runs through the established planting in the front garden, from azaleas and rhododendrons to bedding plants and, apparently, tulips, I rather assumed it would be red too. When we left to visit family for New Year it was a mass of fat buds but no flowers. When we returned, it was a mass of…
…lovely pale yellow flowers. Which blend in perfectly without stealing the eye like the stronger colours do. The reds and yellows that had been in the circle bed really distracted from rather than enhanced the view beyond, so I definitely want to keep the colour palette soft and subtle.
I’m delighted, though I have no idea what cultivar it is, and therefore have no clue how large it will get. At the moment I plan to leave it where it is and keep it from obscuring the view from the dining room by regular pruning. I would like to credit the person who planted it with knowing that the morning light in winter would strike it just like a spotlight…
…but somehow I suspect it is a happy accident, one that I am delighted to embrace, provided I can work out what to plant with it. I have no idea what it smells like, it is far too cold at the moment, and the shape is lovely so I don’t want to prune off a branch for the house to find out.
Where was I. Oh yes, measuring the circle bed.
All done, though it started to rain, and then hail, just as I finished running the ribbon round it, which rather put paid to the other thing I wanted to do, which was measure up possible borders so that I could work out whether I could use the stone to edge them. Ah well, a task for another day, but the circumference measured 11m, longer than I had guessed, and since I think I only want edges half the height of the current wall, that should give me 22m of edging to play with. I’m rather looking forward to trying my hand at some dry stone walling, and to cramming some of the nooks and crannies with sedums and some daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus). For now, it is back to the indoor gardening, and wondering what colour the crocuses will prove to be.