I have finally settled on placing the new greenhouse towards the end of the mixed border quite near the large wooden greenhouse (putting it here means I can align it north south which is preferable to east west). However before reaching this decision I weighed up a large number of possible sites, all of which are illustrated below – apologies in advance for the weeds!
I fear I will have to redesign the garden yet again as I want to fit in the new greenhouse – I have lost count how many times I have changed it. My real love is greenhouse plants and greenhouse management so the inevitable upheaval may be worth it. If and when I get the greenhouse erected I may not heat it initially but rather use it for tomatoes et al in the summer, chrysanthemums in the autumn followed by lettuce through the winter and bulbs in the spring – this was the regime I adopted in my first greenhouse over forty years ago.
By coincidence my wife has just found out some old photographs of the garden at the end of the Century when we had the first avatar of the lawn and there was only one, admittedly large, greenhouse and a tiny lean-to. All the shrubs had either not been planted or had not grown very big and there was actually flowers in the borders!!!!!
I was walking the dog along a sheltered path by the railway line on Sunday and saw quite a few Brimstone butterflies. I think this means Spring has finally arrived folks! Having said that in a normal year you can often see an occasional Brimstone on the wing in late February or early March in Southern England – however this is not a normal year and the sight of so many on the wing cheered me up no end. Typically I never had my smartphone with me – although I didn’t really feel energetic enough to run after them for a good shot anyway! They appeared to be all males: the males have yellow wings, hence the name, while the females are off white. It is believed, realistically I think, that the word butterfly is derived from the males of this species
Our Forsythia bush began to open its buds over a week ago and I notice plants all over town are well out now. Although it is depressing in a way I quite like it when the flowers begin to fade as by then the leaves are showing and the combination of pale green and warm yellow is very attractive.
Incidentally, my wife’s front border which I photographed a bit earlier is looking even prettier now after the rain at the weekend. However in our large garden at the back of the house the weeds are growing alarmingly fast for the same reason. I am not sure when I will get round to attending to them as I have to clean out the fish pond over the weekend and I really must start potting. The turtles do eat the dandelions but unfortunately not in suitable quantities! The rabbit only eats the flowers – we have the fussiest rabbit on the planet!
My wife June looks after the tiny front garden of our rented property. It really is small with a large cherry laurel hedge at the front and our neighbour’s shrubs to the side. The soil is extremely poor but we are doing our best to improve it. The borders in front of the bay window and in front of the hedge tend to be a bit dry particularly in the summer months, however there is a nice show of spring flowers at the moment despite the bad weather – hopefully it will be even better next year.
Cherry Plum (Prunus cerasifera) is usually the first cherry to come into bloom in Southern England. It starts flowering at the beginning of March and in a normal year indicates the imminent arrival of nicer weather. Not this year however! It is still desperately cold at the beginning of April with light snow again today and a bitter wind which would feel almost too chilly in January. For two weeks running the UK met office has forecast milder weather for the approaching weekend and both times they have subsequently amended the information. They are now saying it may get slightly milder during next week – the phrase believe it when you see it comes to mind!
Anyway the cherries remain in bloom. this one is just down the road.
There wasn’t a huge variety of plants at the garden centre we visited last week (still a bit early) but I was struck by these Acacia. They were in large pots presumably ready to be planted but I suspect they would have survived only one of the last five winters even here in Southern England.
They also got me thinking about names. The English call these plants Mimosa despite the fact that this is a totally separate genus. We call Philadelphus (Mock Orange) by the name Syringa even though this is more correctly lilacs. We also muddle up heather and heath with most heathland round here more correctly heatherland and all the heather in local gardens more correctly heaths. I am sure there are many more examples.
I do like our capacity to invent evocative common names for native plants though. Possibly my favourite is Hieracium aurantiacum which I think is called Foxes And Cubs down South and the marvellous Grim The Collier up North. I must admit I also have a soft spot for the Animated Oat! (Avena sterilis).
There is a very small area shaded by next door’s house and contained on the opposite side by the outhouses of our house. At the moment it has mainly native ferns growing in it. These propagate themselves under the polythene floor covering below the staging in the top greenhouse. Three or four species have grown there so far!
I need to move and plant out the Aucuba and get some shade loving plants in the old sink and window box for starters. There is a bamboo screen in the gap between the two houses which (as you can see) gets blown down at the faintest breeze so I may plant the Aucuba there – so where would I then put the ivy? Somewhere where it wont grow up next door’s wall as I have just spent some time prizing it off there!
The, now almost rotten, uprights were on the wall when we moved in; I suppose I could attach some trellis and plant a shade loving climber – the only one I can think of at the moment is Hydranrea petiolaris which would grow far too big. Another option would be to attach pots to the trellis for fuchsias etc.
There is a wind chime hanging down – the sound of which we have got used to now (our bedroom in immediately above this garden) – and I must confess I have been tempted to add the dreaded Buddha sculpture a few times – I can see myself eventually succumbing!
Incidentally, on the subject of strange nocturnal sounds, the pond filter system make an intermittent and unearthly banshee like wailing and we are readying ourselves for a visit from the RSPCA about the animal crying in the back garden!