Verdant, Virile and Very Spring-like

It is fantastic to see all the hedgerows and trees slowly greening back up. Verdant views on their return wherever you look. I like to try and choose which is my favourite shade of green, which is often as fruitless as choosing my preferred perennial but it is still fun to play the game. If you do start seriously looking at all the variety of greens on display it rivals a Farrow and Ball colour chart for white!

Conifers, a very ancient and extremely varied form of plants, usually today found in a dark corner at the very back of the garden center. They have not been popular or en trend for quite a while now and with the lack of enthusiasm for leylandii hedges and rockeries it may be a while before their popularity spikes again. Unless Monty Don’s Japanese garden adventure rouses the nation to recreate a manicured Japanese oasis. However, I mention them this week as it is the time of year for them to shine. They too are blossoming now and it feels wrong to focus solely on the Magnolia and Cherry show stoppers and ignore the hard working less showy chorus line.

If you don’t notice a conifer again until Christmas at least go and notice them this week and see if you can spot them flowering. All conifers are wind pollinated so if you are starting to suffer from hayfever don’t be too quick to blame it all on the Birch, Oak or Sycamore it could be one more reason not to plant one. Whilst I am not personally a fan of conifers in general, especially hedges. I do like a larch, with its needles, that you expect to be spikey like a cedar but instead are fabulously tactile. Some of the larger pine trees planted in the right setting so the sunlight catches the needles can look very pretty as well. The impressive display of red male cones in the picture bottom left above, is from a Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Little Spire’ a slow growing quite elegant looking columnar shape with dark foliage in thick sprays. it will reach 1.5 m wide by 2.5 m tall but it will take nearly 20 years to get there.

A quick experiment update. Photos taken on Monday 25th March. Two weeks after planting and already there is a difference in size between the two composts. All other conditions are exactly the same for all 4 plants. Interesting. Will keep you posted.

Magnolias have been amazing this year, surviving all of the wind and torrential rain to bloom magnificently and with no frost to burn the edges too. Spring flowers and those grown for their colourful new shoots are looking fantastic in the absence of frosts. Chaenomeles, Photinia, Prunus, Pieris and now the Berberis. Let us hope with the plum and pear blossom set to kick off the fruit blossom season that the frosts stay away and we can look forward to some good crops later in the year. I am often envious of just how resilient flowers are, particularly early flowers species who bounce back from snow, frost, wind and rain to stand up tall again and flower strongly.

Lots of seeds have germinated now but still waiting on a sign of a tomato. Gearing up this weekend to start sowing the next lot of seeds, Courgettes, Squashes, Aubergine, Leeks and Parsnips can all be sown under cover now. More important still, is getting the ground and the seeds ready for starting to direct sow in the ground form next week. Keep checking your onion sets to make sure the birds haven’t loosened them, if you find them unceremoniously thrown to one side just gently push them back in and give them a water. Make sure you remember to water seeds sown outdoors if the weather continues to be dry. I have started to water and feed my agapanthus which I have been storing in the shed for the winter but won’t put it out just yet. Don’t be tempted to sow any beans but broad beans before the middle of the April. They will get too long and leggy before you can safely plant them out.

Get your summer bulbs in, coax your Dahlias back to life and get sowing like crazy. See what wildlife you can spot too, welcome or otherwise, I’ve seen the lapwings back again, various butterflies and bees and one unwelcome early sight of greenfly. If you are planning on trying to be organic this year vigilance and early action is required. The greenfly in question have been thoroughly squished by hand.

First Greenfly of the year.

As we head into the most commercialised horticultural season with Mothers Day and Easter. I will wet your appetite for acquiring a new plant, by leaving you with something that may be new to you, I love a chocolate vine, they are in flower now and look fabulously exotic. they have lush 5 leaflet leaves and grow fairly speedily to cover about 8m x 8m eventually. They will tolerate part shade and can grow up East, West,North or South facing walls and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and Ph levels so a great plant for many situations.

Rostrinucula dependens is a new shrub on me. It seems like a variation on a buddleja which grows to about 6ft x 6ft. it should survive a normal derbyshire winter but it may not survive a bad winter, or may need to regrow from the base again. I might have to see it flower in the flesh to decide whether I like it or not but it is always positive to keep expanding your plant knowledge and seeing what else is out there to grow. Looking ahead to springing forward of the clocks this weekend. Happy Days in the Garden x

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