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Garden Flowers: Almost Spring…Really!

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A lovely shade of blue

Surely, surely, it must start to feel like spring now that we have passed the vernal equinox on 21 March (I know the exact beginning of spring can be a contentious issue, so I won’t even go there). I admit that I am struggling to feel seasonally appropriate. Whether this is due to a lingering cold and cough or the annoyingly persistent gloomy grey skies that have out numbered the blues ones lately, I am unable to be sure. Suffice to say that although I have felt twinges of spring, I can’t say I that am whole heartedly into the new season yet. The result of this is that I have been struggling to find the motivation to go grubbing around in the garden. I have had a few cautious forays to inspect the signs of spring growth in the flowerbeds, but that’s about as far as my gardening activity has gone.

Having said all of that, we have both been trying to keep up with any tidying jobs that need doing over the autumn and winter. I did promise myself that I would stop being a fare-season gardener and ensure that everything didn’t go to rack and ruin over the winter. I am not sure that I have entirely succeeded in my aim, but I have been outside on the brighter days, if only to rake up leaves and poke around in the compost bin. I can comfort myself with the knowledge that we did put the garden reasonably well to bed in the autumn, so we are not faced with too much debris from last year, as we have been in the past. Usually, I really have to fight against running out of steam come September and simply letting everything slide into decay and disorder. That creates a daunting start to the new season. In addition, my ideal would be start sowing seeds very early, to get a good start on the growing season. Well, maybe next year for that…

tulip buds

Still green…

In previous Curiously, Creatively posts, I have written about our seed stock and our plans for the growing season, but implementing these ideas has been slow so far. There are foxglove plants waiting in the shelter of the potting shed, ready to go outside, so that really should be a first task. I hope that the Easter break proves to be mild enough to inspire me to get a few jobs done outside. On present showing, that is not looking very likely. Maybe I will just have to gird my loins and brave some inclement weather. However, I think that I will need to harden off the foxgloves before risking planting them outside. The shed isn’t heated, but even so, I don’t want to risk too abrupt a change in temperature for the small plants. I am quite excited about the prospect of having foxgloves as it’s taken me years to get around to growing some.

Foxglove Seedlings

Ready to plant out soon

Elsewhere in the garden, the tulips are coming up, though they are not yet blooming and the primroses look pretty. The long green leaves of bluebells are in evidence and the anemones are a delicately encouraging sign of things to come. The ever busy forget-me-nots are popping up in places where I am fairly sure they weren’t in evidence last year. Once you have them, they do tend to take over any available space. I did put up some spring photographs last year, so I have only added a couple more here rather than repeat too much. As usual our daffodils seem to be slower than everyone else’s, so I persist in thinking that spring isn’t truly here until my jolly yellow blooms are showing.

How does your garden grow? Do let us know.


More Spring Flowers…

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Gorgeous scented flowers…

As I became a little carried away taking pictures of the spring colour in the Curiously, Creatively garden, I now present Part II of my spring roundup. The only trouble is that it is difficult to tell where one season ends and another begins (if only weather was neat and tidy) so at this rate I may be shading into summer photos before I know where I am. It is always nice to see colour in early spring, but unfortunately I tend to miss some early shoots poking through as my gardening urge takes a while to revitalise after the winter.

Ideally I would have some early bulbs positioned where they can be see from the comparative warmth of inside the kitchen window, but I can’t find a way to do this. Maybe I need to find some large posts that I can plant up and position in the right location to bring spring colour into the house in the bleaker months. These lovely jasmine flowers which climb the wall over the kitchen window can of course only be fully appreciated once you’re outside! The heavy scent of the waxy blooms give a promise of the delights of the summer yet to come. I don’t know what the variety is since the plant pre-dates our living in the house.

Tulips and daffodils

A nice contrast…

I will start with daffodils and tulips as it really does feel like spring once they are both blooming. Sadly, the tulips don’t seem to remain in good trim for very long, getting blown and untidy looking quite quickly. We planted the daffodil bulbs in October 2010 (Thalia variety) and some mixed tulip bulbs (yellow and reddish/purple) in November 2011.

In looking up those dates in the garden diary, I notice that we also planted miniature iris in 2010. These usually come up fine but I don’t remember seeing any this year (they’re supposed to be up in February/March). Having said that, the patch of ground does need some attention, so may be they have become overgrown by something else. I think that fate has befallen some of the anemone blanda that I have in there.

I was trying to create a woodland-effect in a part of the garden where a tree and some shrubbery had been cut down. I had envisioned bulbs and wildflowers on this uneven, slightly mossy patch. On the whole it is shaping up reasonably well, but it is a battle to keep out the wild bits that I don’t want (dandelions, bramble and buttercup) and to look after the desired bulbs and wildflowers.


Spring blues…

Some things such as our miniature strawberry variety and forget-me-nots have seeded themselves in the patch, adding to the mix. The primroses that I mentioned in the last post have also settled in well after planting (I think I bought six plants) and add a lovely delicate, woodland tone. Other attempts to add plants, such as sowing cowslips have not worked so well.

The danger at the moment is that the forget-me-nots will take over the entire patch. This picture gives you some idea of how vigorously they can expand. It’s a bit difficult to get a picture that does justice to the blue of the flowers and this is my second attempt at a good shot. You can get pink and white flowers, though I am particularly fond of the original blue.

We have more shades of blue with the muscari bulbs coming up. I originally planted twelve bulbs (valeri finnis) in 2011 and these seem to have spread nicely. They are a pale blue so I was thinking of trying to buy a darker shade to disperse amongst the existing stock. I’ve seen gardens that have massed patches of darker blue, making a splendid contrast to daffodils and narcissus. Maybe that will be a project for the next spring flowering plans that we make.


Delicate blue flowers…

I’ll take some more pictures when I have tackled the weeding and can see more clearly what tasks we need to be looking at this year. Any ideas for bulb varieties or wildflowers that we could try out, would be very welcome.

I can see that California poppy foliage is coming through strongly and a patch of bluebells by the potting shed is getting ready to burst into life. We do have a few cornflowers and poppies which I hope will have spread since last year.

Don’t forget to let us know how your spring growing is shaping up!

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