Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Spring at last.

After one of the wettest winters I have experienced in recent years, ground like porridge, the likes of some Primulas and Meconopsis rotting off in tunnel conditions and now the few Meconopsis that are coming into flower seem to be less vigorous and consequently smaller flowered than usual. Normally they love my conditions but things have definitely gone wrong this season. The lack of growth could  be down to the leaching of nutrients as many parts of the garden have been flooded, albeit only to a couple of inches, but the very fact that many of the established plants have survived is little short of a miracle. Virtually every year as soon as the cherry blossom comes out we have had high winds and a couple of weeks ago working in the garden was not too different from working in a snow storm. I apologise if I sound so negative but to be honest things haven't been good.
The only project that has gone to plan occurred last week when I picked a day to spread fertilizer on both beds and grass in the morning as rain had been forecast for the afternoon to wash it in and guess what it did!

Meconopsis grandis 'Himal Sky' an early bloomer.

Meconopsis 'Kingsbarns'

Meconopsis 'Lingholm' on a sunnier day.
 The azaleas are at their brilliant best:

Rhododendron luteum

'Golden Eagle' and 'Persil' on which the stems are bending under the weight of the blooms, it also didn't help that I dropped a tree branch on it during the winter.

Two Exbury Hybrids
Other than the blues of the Meconopsis, pinks and purples seem to the dominant colours at the moment. Aquilegias are flowering everywhere along with the first of the candelabra primulas.   
The lilies are coming on, just squashed a few lily beetles, the cold weather has kept them at bay so far which is also why the Cotinus, always a late starter, has just broken bud.

I have reduced the number of primulas round the bird bath, although it looked really good at this time of the year the area then took on the appearance of a cabbage patch.

Aquilegias and geraniums provide most of the colour in the "woodland" part of the garden.

Still more aquilegias and geraniums.

Lamium orvala in the foreground with yet more aquilegias and geraniums.

A clump of Primula pulverulenta.

Looking back through the arch framed by a large camellia and a bamboo.

This is my favourite self-sown aquilegia seedling.

Another aquilegia favourite growing in deep shade, not entirely certain but I think these were grown from seed of "Mellow Yellow" much of the foliage is variegated.

Close by a self-sown seedling of Viola cornuta alba.

Lithospermum (Lithodora diffusa 'Heavenly Blue') doing its thing in shade, seems to have at least one flower every month  of the year.

Deep shade, Corydalis ophiocarpa, Geranium maculatum plus Digitalis purpurea and Hesperis matronalis to come into flower next month will lighten things up.

Choisya ternata
Still in the front garden and in shade Geranium pyrenaicum and 
Sisyrinchium striatum both self sown.
To finish with a real oddity:

Podophyllum hexandrum syn. Sinopodophyllum hexandrum. Himalayan May Apple.

Although the emerging leaves have now reverted to green I am hoping for flowers.

Last year I made several decisions, the first to no longer try to grow tulips in pots because of squirrel damage and I have to say the tulips have been sadly missed, the second to buy in "ready to plant-out plugs" because I can longer effectively raise half hardy plants from seed and to be honest it's too much hassle now. I have previously bought plugs and raised them but I am becoming ultra-lazy. Along with these there were several cheap offers including Surfinas, which were the first to be delivered and are growing away superbly, but a collection of fuchsias was badly crushed and already looking mouldy and, although I don't really need all of them it is a good job as I lost about 30%. These were bought from Van Meuwen who I don't remember having bought off before but I do like to try new suppliers for the day to day stuff.  Although I grow mainly from seed, I am sometimes tempted to a "special offer", I have bought from Hayloft Plants in the past and have had very few successes, in fact I still have a credit due after several attempts to deliver the same plants which serves as an example of you only get what you pay for. In Hayloft Plant's case I think, as the plants are raised by micro-propagation and come to you from a controlled environment, that much TLC is needed to get decent results anything less is a disaster. 

Every time I want to spray having prepared everything, be it for insect control or weed killing, even on the sunniest days we have had a strong breeze spring up, so frustrating!



  1. I'm glad I am not the only one with a Cotinus that is late to come into leaf Rick! Your May garden is looking good despite the awful wet weather. I do agree that the wet has probably leeched to much goodness from the soil. I noticed that my acid lovers in particular are all suffering this year. I am molly coddling them all this year by feeding them regularly and will give them all a good mulch in autumn in the hope to restore some of the goodness missing from the soil.
    Windy here too, I hope you get your spraying done soon.

    1. Thanks Angie, I actually managed to get some spraying done today, particularly the rhododendrons, pieris and camellias against the cushion scale which has become my obsession:-)

  2. Oh dear Rick, things don't sound too positive ! However, having seen your photos, there look to be many reasons to be cheerful, blooming right now in your garden!! It has been such an odd spring too, as April was so cold for us here in the East Midlands that growth seemed suspended, however, plants are making up for it now, although many things are late.
    I hope things pick up for you, and some good growing conditions come your way.

    1. Thanks Jane, I can put up with the bad summers but when the winter is so long and wet you wonder when it will end. I have not planted any summer container plants yet, although the night temperatures are up we are still getting exceptionally cold winds.

  3. Monty Don once said that every garden should have wonderfully fragrant Azalea luteum (ok Rhododedron luteum).
    He was right (for once)

  4. Hi Rick, apart from a bit of disappointment brought on by the wet Winter, things seem to be on the up in your garden.
    Encouraged by your enthusiasm for the Primula candelabra I bought a few plug plants late last Summer, they are flowering away rather nicely and adds a bit of welcome colour at this time of year, not sure if the large leaves will irritate me.

    1. Sorry to say Alistair I am sure the "cabbage patch" effect will annoy you but I suppose you could always treat them as bedding unless you have a corner you can put them in or better still plant them out in a damp patch in your woodland when they have finished.

  5. Your Meconopsis are stunning, even if greatly diminished. You still have many other beautiful blooms as well.

    1. Thanks Jason, I have put some fertilizer down and the later flowering Meconopsis are doing much better.