Six on Saturday: They Keep on Coming

The woodland was planted in 2000 and a batch of probably 100 wood anemones were planted soon after – I might have said wood anemones, but in truth they were more like a small pile of broken twigs, for that is what the rhizomes are like. They spread by extending these rhizomes just below the surface, popping up wherever they choose, their tightly furled foliage appearing almost overnight and quickly unfolding to reveal promising flower buds, the first of which are about to open as you can see from the above photo. It probably took two or three years for them to settle down but they have not stopped since, expanding their territory to clothe the whole length of the woodland on one side of the path, with minimal assistance from the gardener. Like my common snowdrops, I can afford to be generous and share rhizomes with friends.

They may not be quite as accommodating as wood anemones, but snakeshead fritillaries seem to be equally at home in the woodland, and may well be starting to seed around too, as I know they can do when they are happy. For the last few years I have included an additional pack of 25 of them in my Peter Nyssen order, topped up with any bargain basement packs from my local garden centre at the end of the season. This conscious effort to increase their number seems to be paying off, as there are now a number of small clumps throughout the carpet of wood anemones. I gave up trying to establish separate groupings of pink and white, just planting them as they come.

Flowing bulbs are not the only thing that keeps on coming, and this week has seen a flurry of lightbulb moments which, like buses, you don’t have for ages and then suddenly they all come at once, triggering some changes in the garden. I hesitate to call them projects because two were relatively quickly carried out and the third is still on trial, but they will all make an impact and the first two involved minor construction, so let’s call them ‘minor projects’!

As we are still in the woodland admiring the expanding numbers of wood anemones and fritillaries, let’s continue there with the third minor project, which is on trial. Following the recent post summarising my snowdrop year, I exchanged a number of comments with Pauline of Lead up the Garden Path, discussing the conditions our named snowdrops were growing in. Hers are planted in her woodland where they have built up sizeable clumps – and she has suffered only a handful of losses over 30 years, unlike many other galanthophiles in our blogging community. Although the bulk of mine do fairly well, I do lose a few of my newer less-established varieties each year, and this year my losses were particularly severe.

I have no such issue with my commons, which are planted in the woodland edge, and I found myself wondering if there might be some merit in moving my specials to the woodland, where they would still be separate from their common cousins, and where they could share the same conditions as the anemones, fritillaries, bluebells and wild garlic, and enjoy their summer dormancy under the canopy of the trees instead of the open border they are currently in. Certainly food for thought, but with a downside of no longer being able to enjoy them from the kitchen windows, and there was no way I would suddenly move them all wholesale to the woodland anyway. Instead, I have taken ‘spares’ of half a dozen varieties and replanted them in the woodland to monitor their progress over the year before I come to decision.

The other two ideas that popped into my head concerned areas of the hedge down by the house. As the garden on the other side of the hedge is at a higher level than ours towards the front end, some form of embankment is needed. This was very much an ad hoc arrangement when we first bought the property, but now most of it is supported by a brick wall or with large pieces of stone that were originally in the hedge. The section just outside the back door is mostly the latter, but gaps between the stones resulted in a persistent pile of soil at the base, particularly when the weather was dry. The hedge has been severely cut back this year and is currently not a pretty sight, exacerbated by the random selection of artefacts used by our now deceased neighbour to plug any small dog-sized gaps.

Last weekend, on a whim, I decided to tackle the leaking soil issue once and for all, and rejecting the option of utilising all the irregularly shaped stones in favour of a more comprehensive barrier, elected to extend the brick wall instead – and not just because of my love of bricklaying, I hasten to add! A quick visit to our friendly reclamation yard was made on Monday morning to purchase a few bricks and the job was complete by the end of the afternoon. Ferns, primroses and potentially other woodland edge plants will be added to the lower section, with perhaps comfrey added to the poorer soil at the base of the hedge itself, and possibly a small section of fence to screen the worst of the centre of the hedge.

Whilst working on this, my thoughts turned to the area a little further on, which I had painstakingly cleared and replanted eight years ago but which never really worked, plants failing to thrive because of the continued presence of the hedge and its desire to encroach on the rest of the garden. The front of the area, separated by a line of bricks, was planted with white Anemone blanda and performs tolerably for part of the year. A helpful lightbulb was switched on, reminding me of our solution to a similar issue by the blue & white borders where a strip of garden was severely affected by ground elder coming from a neighbouring garden. A trip to the builders’ merchant and the purchase of a few block paviors saw the Golfer (a whizz at laying level blocks and slabs) pave over the back of this second section in a few hours, another job well done. The raised bricks at the back will prevent soil falling onto the area, which will probably house two or three big pots in due course.

Finally, the sixth thing that keeps on coming and as such is a mixed blessing, is the quantity of seedlings in the working greenhouse. As more and more seedlings are pricked out, the greenhouse is filling up rapidly and space will soon be at an absolute premium. Nothing has yet been potted on, so planting out is still a long way off…hey ho, I suppose it will sort itself out somehow, as it always does…

To view more Saturday Sixes, please visit the meme’s host Jon the Propagator.

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26 Responses to Six on Saturday: They Keep on Coming

  1. Heyjude says:

    Phew! You are a busy beaver! I admire your brick laying skills and the ideas you have. You don’t fancy coming over to build me a pond do you?

    • Cathy says:

      The commute may be a little too great, Jude… 😉 ps bricklaying is not dissimilar to Lego, just one brick on top of another

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Are wood anemones the same as Anemone blanda? I had been wanting to get those started here because, although not native, they seem like they would be appealing among the redwoods. I am concerned that if they perform well, that they might perform too well and spread. I will try them within a refined and contained landscape first.

    • Cathy says:

      No, not the same Tony, although despite their name wood anemones (A nemerosa) can tolerate more open conditions. Once settled I think they would spread quicker than A blanda which are corms rather than these twiggy rhizomes

  3. Pauline says:

    I think you will find Cathy that I said that I have lost about half a dozen over the 30 yrs that I have been growing snowdrops. If you move your snowdrops to your woodland I would keep them well away from your bluebells and wild garlic or they will soon be overrun, probably never to be seen again!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for clarifying your losses, Pauline – I will amend my reference to them. I actively manage the wild garlic these days and am now removing clumps of it as well as deadheading them, but it and the bluebells are mostly kept to one side of the path anyway. I will certainly ensure my trial clumps are not unduly affected by them. Thanks for your comments and the benefits of your experience – and for triggering the trials!

  4. Very impressed by your bricklaying skills! What a lot of healthy looking seedlings you have.

    • Cathy says:

      Aw thanks, Ciara! Sadly I had some issues with some of my seeds this year and some failed to hrive – particularly cosmos – and I have had to resow several. Not sure if I failed to remove some from the warmth early enough, or if it’s the presence of greenfly 🙄 Generally things seem to have settled own again though – thankfully!

  5. Paddy Tobin says:

    I would concur with the idea of planting the snowdrops in a woodland area. I a few corners in the garden which approximate woodland and snowdrops certainly do best there. I reckon the increased leafmould is the important factor leading to their good health.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Paddy. There’s certainly plenty of leafmould in our bit of woodland! I will still see how these get on over the next year before considering moving them wholesale though…

  6. Anna says:

    Will be interesting to see how your snowdrop trial progresses Cathy. Most of my special snowdrops are in pot grown and sadly that is where my losses occur. The common ones growing under the shade of trees in summer seem to flourish whilst most of the specials in the garden are again shaded by trees in the summer and seem to have been ok up to now. Like Paddy suggests I add leaf mould at planting time and thereafter. Your greenhouse looks fit to burst and puts mine to shame but then mine is full of pots of snowdrops for another week or so. No room for lots of seedlings just yet 😂

    • Cathy says:

      The existing snowdrop border faces north east, so is not the sunniest, and I do add leafmould every autumn if I can, plus add it to pots if they are potted. The majority of snowdrops there are fine,so I don’t think there is an issue with the location, but once I began to think about it there was clearly some logic to having them in the woodland. It also means I would have a fairly large border to add other things to 😁, but no view from the windows of snowdrops bobbing about… 🙄Your seedlings will catch up with mine in time, especially as I have had to resow some – and you must look after your preciouses!

  7. You get so much work done each week, I am in awe! I’ll be interested to see the results of your snowdrop experiments too.

    • Cathy says:

      Those were surprisingly little jobs, Allison – less than a couple of hours each, excluding removing any soil or sifting it later – honest! Little jobs, but with big impact! And recycled bricks invariably make a project look as if it has been there for ages. I am eager for the snowdrop results too, as I like to get on with my projects!

  8. Wow, you have been very busy! The brick path looks great. And you have a beautiful collection of spring plants!

    • Cathy says:

      Definitely just little projects, Beth – but I am sure there will be inspiration for a bigger project just waiting to pop into my head! Spring is indeed lovely in our garden 😊

  9. Noelle M says:

    Now that you have said your reclamation yard is open, that has given me an idea to see if they have any stone sinks available. I am very impressed by your work this weekend, and that you have these lightbulb moments ideas have been actioned.

    • Cathy says:

      Reclamation yards have been open throughout the lockdowns because they stock building materials, Noelle. Hope you can source your sink – can’t tell you what he going price would be at the moment as most of ours came from the house or a neighbour’s house. Ideas strike at any moment, Noelle, so I just go with the flow!!

  10. Wood anemones are a wonderful carpet of the forest floor with their divine white flowers, I love it. The brick projects are magnificent, I love them and Cathy has a wonderful knack for landscaping. I really want to continue planting your special snowdrops in the forest: I hope they do very well in this new place and that instead of losing any the bulbs will reproduce. I love the seedlings in your Greenhouse, they are so healthy and upright: they fill the entire Greenhouse to the top and then you can plant them outside in good weather and without cold, and they become large and healthy plants full of divine flowers. Take good care of yourself and the golfer, Cathy. Have a very good week. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you Margarita. In truth, my seed sowing has not been as successful as usual, perhaps a combination of the compost and the presence of greenfly in the greenhouse

      • Cathy is a pity that the green fly in the Greenhouse has caused you to have fewer seeds that have germinated, but still I think you have enough to cover your garden needs. Is that so? I hope so. I want you to exterminate the Greenhouse Greenfly as soon as possible and completely; in a simple way for you. Have a good weekend. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

  11. Noelle M says:

    I was going to add that if you were to mimic the conditions in which fields of fritillaries flourish at in Cricklade in their water meadows there, I used to visit each year, when I lived very close by, you may like to try them by your stream in full sunshine. They love having a good soaking during the winter.

    • Cathy says:

      Sadly the stream is just a woman-made and the adjacent area will get no more damp than anywhere else! There is a local SSSI here, also a water meadow, which has fritillaries, but I am not sure if there is public access…I really must check it out as it would be a good time of year to visit if I could

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