Six on Saturday: the Pace Quickens

Daytime temperatures have reached the low teens most days this week and there have been splashes of sunshine and blue sky, but even on the greyer days there has been an urgency about the garden, its pace quickening as the slow march towards spring becomes more of a gallop. If you blinked I am sure you would miss the appearance of something new! Seed sowing is continuing at a similar pace but today I focussed on cutting back grasses and shrubs such as hydrangea and pruning penstemon and the hardier salvias. I cut back my hardiest salvia, S ‘Neon’, about a month ago, cutting its woody stems back to the lowest hint of green shoot to tidy it up before our open day, but this may prove to have been a mistake as it now shows no sign of life at all, despite the mildness of the season. I do have rooted cuttings however, and it may turn out be a lesson well learned.

Taking time out from the cutting back and pruning, I chose 6 signs of approaching spring to feature for the Six on Saturday meme hosted by Jon the Propagator, starting with the blossom on the wild plum, shown above – at least I think it’s a wild plum, but it doesn’t fruit often enough to be sure. The fruit is round, but with a  typical plum stone. It’s very pretty anyway, and the spent petals fall like snow. Below, the first of the wood anemones are in bloom, following the discreet unfurling of foliage from the woodland floor:

Also in the woodland, the fritillaries are now opening too, both white and purple; the white ones don’t look as attractive as the purple on first glance, but if you look closely there are pleasing green markings on them and a faint puckering of the petals. I have added more fritillaries in recent years, buying either from Peter Nyssen (my usual bulb supplier), or cheapo end-of-season bulbs from our local garden centre.

Rhododendron ‘Cheers’ (aka Christmas Cheer) lives at the fringe of the woodland and now has a number of buds colouring up – as I have mentioned before, she flowers when she feels like it, sometime between late autumn and spring. Our soil is fairly neutral and rhododendrons do OK, but I usually still give them a dollop of ericaceous compost every year, just in case:

It’s a bit early for tulips, other than the smaller species varieties which are now in bud, but for some reason there is a lonely main season tulip about to flower under the holly tree. Considering how hard it can be to get tulips to reflower, why this is here and keeps reappearing is anybody’s guess; I suspect it might have come via the compost heap when I was improving the soil here in preparation for another ‘woodland edge’ bed, so it survived over a year in the heap before rising like a phoenix in its new location. It’s one of the viridiflora tulips, something like ‘Spring Green’:

Currently giving me great pleasure every time I ramble past the Coop to the Coop Corner is this tableau, Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’, Hellebore ‘Anna’s Red’ and Corydalis ‘GP Baker’ all enhanced, it seems, by the red brick of our neighbour’s house, the pink of the paving blocks and the grey fence. It’s a surprisingly solid block of colour for this time of year, don’t you think?

There is plenty more evidence of Spring’s imminence in our garden, but that’s my six for today. If you visit Jon’s blog and the links other bloggers have posted I am sure you will find many more.

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19 Responses to Six on Saturday: the Pace Quickens

  1. A lovely block of color and the Fritillaries!!

  2. Very pretty Cathy. It is surprising to see your rhododendrons in bud, as they don’t bloom here for a few months yet. Actually, it’s been a good many years since I’ve seen them at all. I wonder if they have gone out of fashion or it’s just my climate they don’t like. I remember them mostly from my childhood, and yours is beautiful. I’m sure it makes a glorious display when it is in bloom.

  3. Jim Stephens says:

    That hellebore is quite a colour, I must do the local garden centres on the lookout for past their sell by date hellebores. Your Salvia problem is all too familiar, at least you have backups, we always think of that too late.

    • Cathy says:

      Anna’s Red is stunning, Jim, but she would never be left on the shelf! I was really surprised about the salvia, but it will perhaps surprise me and reshoot…

  4. prue batten says:

    Oh my. gosh, the fritillaries! I have some in pots. Have always been afraid to naturalise under the trees in case I lose them. I love both but the white is beautiful. It’d be like a lit street lamp in the woodland.

    • Cathy says:

      I like the image of the street lamp! These have been fine in little woodland – and they thrive in my Mum’s wet west of Scotland garden with its shallow slatey soil. Go for it and try them in the ground!

  5. bcparkison says:

    Teens! You must be talking C and not F.

  6. Lora Hughes says:

    Your garden’s like a pup let outside after a night indoors – racing w/glee. Love the hellebore corner w/the grey fence that matches the window next door, of course, as you say, set off by the bricks. My old eyes thought there was a dead rat on its back under the clematis, so was delighted to see it’s really a toad. Can’t believe how far ahead all your blooms are from mine. Can’t wait to see that rhodie.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, it’s an exciting time in the garden, isn’t it?! The ‘toad’ isn’t real either – I have quite a collection of similar frogs and toads in the shady corner just beyond this bed

  7. Anna greentapestry says:

    Love the plum blossom Cathy. Yes spring is definitely springing 😄

  8. Noelle says:

    The collection of hellebore and clematis look stunning against the painted wall.

  9. Noelle says:

    Is that Corydalis Beth Evans in the last picture?

  10. tonytomeo says:

    ‘Wild plum’ is a rather generic term for various species that could be native or merely feral. For us, it refers mostly to the naturalized American plum that, although not native here, naturalized from orchard understock. There are also feral plums that are genetically mixed, and might be related to European prunes that once grew in the orchards, or Japanese plums that grow in home gardens. If it is wild, it would be classified as a wild plum.

  11. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: Needs Must | Rambling in the Garden

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