Six on Saturday: More Seasonal Tasks and Some Lessons

I took advantage of a shower-free day to re-mortar various bricks in place, especially in the dwarf rose beds under the clematis colonnade. I don’t know what I did when I laid the latter in the first place, but suspect the mix was drier than it could have been. Further dry days are needed to repaint the fence adjacent to the shrub border, thankfully only a 4ft high fence, but there is still a lot of it…

Removing excess allium seedlings is very much an ongoing task, but I was nevertheless astonished at the forest of foliage that emerged in one of the main borders, considering I had dug out ALL the contents last autumn and replanted only a handful of the bulbs that it contained (or so I thought). Elsewhere, it is easier to control the much smaller and grass-like seedlings, usually growing in very distinct clumps. There is clearly a very fine line between retaining seedheads for seasonal interest and preventing excessive self-seeding…

Having taken the decision to relocate the spring flowering Group 1 clematis from their posts on the colonnade to make pruning of the remaining Group 3 clematis easier, I was able to remove four of the six relatively easily, but will keep the other two in situ until they have finished flowering and then cut them back to allow for easier extrication. All six are in bud, and in need of a new home. One, C koreana ‘Amber’, I have never liked and will be on our plant sales table in June, but I shall find a spot somewhere in the garden for the others.

I have begun to harden off my sweet peas ready to plant out in a week or two, and hope to get their supports put in place tomorrow. in the working greenhouse there are now buds on the Winter Sunshine sweet peas which have put on a growth spurt as light levels and temperatures increase. A section of bubblewrap insulation fell off in the Coop earlier this week, reminding me that although it doesn’t make a huge difference to light levels it still does make an impact, and I shall be removing all the insulation in a week or so.

As I continue making space in the working greenhouse, this week I have planted out autumn sown antirrhinum and larkspur in the cutting beds, and delphinium around the borders, all having done particularly well from an autumn sowing.

Finally, on to the lessons. It is still too early to make a full assessment of the damage caused by the cold spells this winter, although frost damage has been evident on some shrubs. An alert this week from a friend who had bought a seed-sown agapanthus on one of our open days made me check mine, all grown from seed – and I found 3 pots of decomposed agapanthus roots. The moral? They are in pots, so always bring them inside over winter, just in case… Having nurtured them and brought them to flowering or close to flowering, I am really saddened by their loss.

Less sad, but more of a financial loss are the spray guns linked to four of the watering stations in the garden. The water was turned off over winter and, although the water butts are full, we turned the water back on this week in preparation for drier times ahead. All four spray guns are cracked and unrepairable; only the fifth one outside the back door survived intact, where bizarrely the water had not been turned off at all. As my friend’s husband, a sales rep for Hozelock, says ‘put them to bed in the shed’, a task we will dutifully do every winter in future, tucking them up with a 15 tog duvet and a hot water bottle, just to make sure…

No doubt other contributors to Jim’s  Six on Saturday meme will be working through their own lists of seasonal tasks, except for those who are having to wait a little longer for their gardens to wake up before making a start. Why not pop over to Jim’s blog and have a look?

This entry was posted in borders, clematis, cutting beds, early spring, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, seasonal tasks, Six on Saturday. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Six on Saturday: More Seasonal Tasks and Some Lessons

  1. bcparkison says:

    I found out this week that the nurserymen are saying it may be June before we know the real damage from our last cold snap. It doesn’t look good but there are a couple of surprises. Hardest hit was the fig bushes/trees and the sweet olive tree. I just hate this but it is what it is. Surprise was the new peony plants. They did get covered and are looking good. It is an adventure.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s interesting to read about the June date, although it could be different here. As you say, it is at is – and life and gardening are both adventures!

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Allium seedlings are encouraging. Tangly Cottage Gardening gave me Allium schubertii and Allium christophii last year, and I collected seed from their bloom.

    • Cathy says:

      As I have both these and A sphaerocephalon it is probably impossible to tell seedlings apart when they are young and I don’t really have the space to pot any up and wait a few years till they flower

      • tonytomeo says:

        Mine are separated, which makes it easier. Besides, I will be pleased with anything that grows from them. They are new to me. I had postponed tyring them for many years.

  3. Rosie Amber says:

    My potted agapanthus seedlings got frosted too, even though they were in the greenhouse.

  4. The list of jobs calling to me from the garden seems endless, but the weather is improving, so I will too…

  5. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I have no idea yet what has survived the cold – my garden is later than yours. I do understand about self-seeding – I deliberately left a parsnip to go to seed but was slow to pick the head and there are babies coming up in a big area of the greenhouse! They will be transplanted somewhere else!

  6. Cathy says:

    That is sad that you have lost your home-grown Agapanthus Cathy. I tried growing them once before I had space to bring them indoors over winter but found our season somewhat short for them and hardly worth it. They are such pretty flowers though. I debated taking out the hosepipes last week, which get drained and put away with all attachments – German houses all have cellars and it is so handy having a frost-free space for things like that! But we are down to frosty nights again this coming week so I will have to lug watering cans for another week or two. Did your autumn sown larkspur get leggy? I had to trim and plant mine out as they were threatening to flower in the cold frame!

    • Cathy says:

      If I hadn’t had a flower on one I might not gave bothered trying again, and I have to find out if theycwill flower repeatedly over the years – but I have just taken advantage of some very cheap bare root plants from T&M so will try again. Some of the larkspur were leggy and got cut back, but all of them are far bushier than those I have sown earlier in the year. They could probably have been planted out much earlier than they were

  7. We seem to have as many jobs to do in the garden as you have – good job we enjoy it! Alliums are so beautiful when in flower and as seed heads but all those seedlings are ridiculous!

  8. Heyjude says:

    I admire your work ethic Cathy, you are so organised! I have noticed that I have a lot of alliums coming up this year, though how many flowers is anyone’s guess, they do seem to produce a lot of leaves! I shall be clearing the beds they are in after flowering this year as most of the perennials seem to have come to the end of their lives.

    • Cathy says:

      I know a lot of the allium leaves would die back by the summer, but they will be taking a lot of nutrients out of the soil. Most of the alliums are so cheap its almost worth digging out the old ones after flowering and planting fresh – that would stop all those seedlings! Are your perennials ‘refreshable’ do you think?

      • Heyjude says:

        I always strip the allium leaves off as they get so tatty, doesn’t seem to affect them. As for perennials, there are some day lilies that need splitting, a phlox which is a very gaudy pink, a purple lobelia worth saving and Rozanne which can go into the newly formed sunny bed. Oh, and a couple of agapanthus.

  9. Noelle says:

    I wonder whether many of your garden visitors realise all the work you put in early in the year to get to the wonderful effect for the visits? Good tip about putting the sprag guns from the hoses away for the winter.

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, they probably think it takes more work than it does – or perhaps I don’t think of most of it as ‘work’! I do now keep a rough record of how many hours I spend on it – will check back abd see how many hours it was last year…

      • Noelle says:

        I would not want to note the time I spend, and as you say it is hardly work, for me it is my play! It might be embarrassing to admit to others the time I just spend looking and enjoying, and wondering whether something would look better elsewhere and noting down to do that.

        • Cathy says:

          Ah yes, time spent standing and staring is another thing altogether!! Last year it was 409 hours (not counting things specific to opening the garden like putting signs up and preparing labels and things) – which averages out to 67 minutes a day and is not a lot at all!

  10. Oh, sorry about the cracked spray guns. Everything else looks healthy and ready for the growing season ahead. Impressive!

  11. I’m smiling at the idea of your Hozelock tucked in with a water bottle. Thanks for the grin. I’m sorry to read about the cold and the frost damage to your agapanthus. It’s especially disheartening when you grew them from seed and nurtured them well, only to have a frost lay them flat. I lost a succulent planted last summer to frost. It must not be suitable to our winter temps. like the others. By the time I thought to cover it (it’s rare that it gets that cold here) it was done.

  12. Anna says:

    Mmmmmm – you have given me food for thought Cathy- I’m now wondering if the grass like seedlings I’ve spotted recently could be alliums as there are some bulbs in the border. They’re in for the magnifying glass treatment tomorrow 😂 Sad to read about your agapanthus and the spray guns. We have only just removed the bubble wrap and securing pots from our outside taps but I’m now wondering where the spray gun is 🤔

    • Cathy says:

      I suspect that the grassy looking ones are going to be A sphaerocephalon – not so easy to remove when they are in paving cracks, as they often are!

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