Full Steam Ahead

Apart from a couple of hours at a steam event literally just down the road from us I have spent virtually all my ‘free’ time recently working on the garden. This still doesn’t amount to very many hours and for the first time I have felt the slightest hint of pressure on myself to have everything ready for our openings  which are only 5-6 weeks away. This probably stems from the delay caused by the weather, the late cold spell slowing down seedling growth and then hot dry days preventing their being planted out once they were ready. The move finally began on Friday afternoon and the cutting beds quickly filled up, with seedlings destined for the borders still waiting their turn:

I find myself reluctant to take this next step as I can easily keep an eye on those in the cutting beds but in the borders they are often overshadowed by the existing herbaceous plants and neglected or munched by molluscs. Not surprisingly, the borders are full of lush growth and despite what first appears to have been a late spring the herbaceous plants seem to have adhered to their usual calendars. Already there are some pleasing combinations apparent, such as these alliums and astrantia:

The rhododendrons are in full swing in the woodland edge border, not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but you can’t beat them for their floriferousness at this time of year. Between them, I can’t help but marvel at the fresh growth on the epimediums, all the more attractive because for the first time ever I cut out the old foliage and was rewarded also by seeing their blooms which are normally hidden. You can just catch a glimpse of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ in the top right hand corner of the picture on the right.

The wisteria on the gable of the house does seem to have affected by the cold winds in March after all, but strangely only on the lower stems which appear to be devoid of flower buds; the highest stems, however, look set to be in full flower as usual in a couple of weeks. Rambling Rector, which would also have taken the full force of the winds seems unaffected and is once again covered in buds so will be in flower before the end of the month and sadly over before our visitors arrive in late June. The lilac and laburnum that you can see are in our neighbour’s garden.

From bare pots a month or so again, spikes of hosta have quickly developed into lovely leafy clumps, so far free of slug damage; if only this were to remain the case!

I am pleased to be able to show off this early delphinium, grown from seed sown last July; I know it has a severe kink, but I can overlook this deformity as it is so pretty!

In the greenhouse (now a good bit emptier!) the ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweet peas are doing well, the best in all the three years I have grown them. I quite like the colour combination of the four varieties I have chosen but it is a shame that Owl’s Acre don’t sell mixed packets as a mixed bunch of sweet peas has its own special appeal.

Today I had a break from planting out and potting on as some fences desperately needed a new coat of paint, not the easiest of tasks when there are plants growing next to them but at least it will give them a few more years of life. More fences still to be tackled tomorrow, but not as awkward as this one was. Like the planting, this was a job delayed by the weather, as it couldn’t be done in the cold or the wet.

So much to do, so little time…but it will get done, I am sure…!

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21 Responses to Full Steam Ahead

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Those seedlings seem to be crowded. Perhaps they are just big seedlings. I got to plant impatiens for the first time in a very long time. They had not been available for a few years because of disease. Anyway, I forgot how difficult the spacing is. I never get them close enough. It needed to be done again. oops.

  2. I am so jealous of your sweet peas. Between weather and then the destruction of my little greenhouse, I gave up for this year. You have so many plants but the wisteria growing along the wall… swoon! I cannot wait to see it blooming!

    • Cathy says:

      Althoughthese early greenhouse sweet peas are doing a well I neglected my other early sowings and they are not lookingf ealthy at all and I have made some late second sowings to compensate. I planted the wisteria in 2000 and it took about 6 years to flower – it brought tears to my eyes the first time!

  3. rusty duck says:

    It’s that time of year and I join you in feeling the pressure. Everything seems to be happening in a rush, presumably as Spring catches up. Love the allium/astrantia combo. Chilly down here tonight, I hope we don’t have a frost!

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    With this crazy weather this year I am so far behind I think I am ahead. I have no doubt you will get all accomplished that really needs to be. Everyone will have felt the strain of the crazy weather and understand if you don’t get something done.

    • Cathy says:

      I hope so Lisa – I have replaced several of my roses in the autumn and I am really hoping they will be in flower by then

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Your plants all look so healthy and as if they’re bounding out of the ground. I’m sure all will be ready for the open garden. What a lot of pressure! I like the way you’ve espaliered the wisteria.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jane – the spurt the seedlings have made in recent weeks is amazing…they just needed some extra warmth, I think

  6. Heyjude says:

    Your garden looks lovely and I know how much hard work it takes to make it like that. I have bought plug plants this year as sowing my own doesn’t work, and they needed to be potted on. I am just waiting for the forget-me-nots to stop flowering. Last night though I actually brought the new plants back into the conservatory because I was worried about frost. It was very cold and very clear! Hope it stays warm for you.

    • Cathy says:

      I have bought plug plants too – for pots and troughs and baskets – and shall be nipping pronto to Aldi on Sunday when their summer planters arrive which I use to fill the 4 square pots on the paved area. I wouldn’t have space to grow all those from seed and many of them are harder to germinate successfully for amateurs. Temps were meant to dip here last night, but only to about 5 and I nearly kept the greenhouses open as I am not really expecting any more frosts but will still watch out just in case. Everything here should be hardy enough to take a hint of frost now anyway

  7. Christina says:

    You’re feeling the pressure I felt when I returned from Amsterdam; it surprised me that it didn’t take too long to catch up! It is all looking great, well done!

  8. Cathy I want the weather to change and sunny, hot days to come so your seedlings will grow and you can work more hours in the garden. The Alliums and Astrantia are divine. The Hostas I love. Sweet Peas “Winter Sunshine” are very large and beautiful. I hope it arrives without problems to the opening date of your garden. Greetings from Margarita.

  9. Chloris says:

    It is a fabulous time of the year but so much needs doing. Growing plants from seed is rewarding but it is time consuming when everything needs attention all at once and the weeds are on steroids – and of course there is always the latest project to be worked on. And of course for you there are babies to be looked after.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, life is very much a balancing act here at the moment – but fortunately only one baby to be looked after (for the time being…)! I think I have overdone the seed sowing though, as the borders are stuffed full 😉 And we have had NO rain for ages…

  10. LisaDay says:

    Good luck. Look at all that beautiful colour.

  11. Sam says:

    It’s a busy time of year with so much to do but it’s all looking great – I’m sure you’ll be fine!

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