Forsythia In Bloom

Forsythia must be the most common Spring flowering shrub, being extremely colourful and very easy to grow – like most shrubs that flower very early it is pruned after flowering; usually taking out a selection of the flowered stems.  However my plant got too large for the place I put it in and I cut it very hard back.  This is the first proper flowering since then.

Forsythia in bloom

Forsythia in bloom

Scrub Clearing At Coombe Bisset Down – 2011

This task took place at the beginning of the  2011/2012 conservation season (now finished) we were cutting down small isolated hawthorn and rose plants that would, if left to their own devices, shade out the grass and other flora.  The site was extremely steep and we were stacking the cut scrub at the bottom – so extremely hard work (it wasn’t too bad coming down but then you had to go all the way up again!).

Two Magnolias

The magnolias are coming out well now and look pristine.  These were photographed in different areas of town.

Sadly we haven’t got any in our garden although we did have Magnolia stellata (which as the name suggests and most people know has star shaped flowers).  Unfortunately I had originally planted it in the wrong place and when I, unavoidably, had to move it it died.

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia ?

Magnolia ?

Scrub Clearing At Coombe Bissett Down – 2010

A Return to Coombe Bisset.  Clearing hawthorn and blackthorn again but at a different site on the reserve.  The views were lovely.

Two Willows In Flower

Pussy Willow (Salix caprea) is associated in my mind with the Easter holiday.  It is also called goat willow; a less flattering description but probably more apt.  I have found it has the unhappy knack of sowing itself in the seed pans of plants that have a protracted germination process; making a dreadful inconvenience of itself.

This example was photographed beside the Anton river in my home town of Andover, Hampshire.

Pussy Willow

Pussy Willow

Weeping willow (probably of hybrid origin) is a far more ornamental plant, long grown in gardens and readily available in garden centres.  I must admit I have never grown it – it lends itself to being a centre piece in a lawn but in our unashamedly utilitarian garden this is the rotary clothes drier!

This tree was also photographed beside the Anton.

Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow

The State Of The Ponds At The Beginning Of The Season

We have three ponds in the garden: a small wildlife pond in the wildlife garden at the top of the garden, a slightly larger ornamental pond (in theory anyway) half way down and the fish pond at the bottom of the garden in between two patio areas.  Both patio areas need relaying as I put the slabs down temporarily and then left them!

Wildlife pond

The wildlife pond is silted up - it is actually too small and I plan to at least deepen it, although I may well enlarge it, this year or next.

Ornamental pond

The ornamental pond is far from ornamental and needs planting from scratch. It is in a hollow after I got over enthusiastic when digging the hole.

Large fish pond

The fish pond was greatly enlarged last year with a huge new filter incorporated. Unfortunately the UV bulb has gone (the device repeatedly gave me a shock anyway) and I plan to add a second filter with new UV lamp as soon as possible. We did once have waterlilies but the koi ate them; ditto all other plants!

State Of The Greenhouses At The Beginning Of The Growing Season

At this time of year (after a Winter of neglect!) the greenhouses look a bit worse for wear.  Ideally I would start potting now – i.e. at the end of March – but often don’t start until the middle of May which is really too late. Crassulaceae get potted every year but the cacti and mesembs get potted every two years and other groups such as the haworthias even less often.  Conventional plants, of which I have very few, are potted annually.  I used to do a lot of specialist seed raising every year but because of time restraints do hardy any now.  I used to do the sowing from January onwards in an airing cupboard (which we no longer have) before the potting/repotting of the main collections started.

The cacti/mesemb house

The cacti/mesemb house

The Crassulaceae house

The Crassulaceae house

The mixed house

The mixed house

The small lean-to

The small lean-to