Easter Greetings!

 wpid-20130330_172239-1.jpgAfter a week of almost nightly snowfalls, the garden has been slow to shed its white mantle, very different from late March last year when we enjoyed temperatures in the low 20’s C.

Much of the garden is still snow-covered, with the area between the yew hedges and the shade border still covered by 3-4 inches. Most of the lawn too is still covered, although nearly all the ground outside the walls is now snow-free, as are the south-facing borders in the walled garden, where the sun has had an effect.

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The shade border remains snowbound!

Despite daytime temperatures struggling to exceed 5 degrees and overnights dropping to -4 degrees or so, marked by opaque, frosted greenhouse glass, the garden is gradually coming back to life.

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the alpine primulas

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P. denticulata

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Flowering currant

Almost as soon as the snow disappeared off the alpine querns, the primulas with their simple blue flowers and serrated leaves have burst into bloom. Indeed, it is primula time of year, with the polyanthus continuing to try to put on a show, and the P. denticulata pompoms starting their journey skywards. The first daffodils have made it just in time to adorn the Easter table and the flowering currant has continued to push out it drooping blossom.

Meanwhile, the first of the herbaceous continues to produce its early ‘tufts’ of new growth, a welcome sight in the bare borders.

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the photogenic Polyanthus

In the greenhouse, some welcome sunshine in the last few days has finally triggered the sweet peas, leeks and early lettuce from their torpor. Despite no real warmth outside, the temperature in the greenhouse today reached a very acceptable 18 degrees C, so we have continued with our seed-planting – herbaceous perennials and some biennials at this stage. The summer bedding and perennials requiring a little more warmth to germinate we’ll do in 2-3 weeks’ time, when the overnight temperatures are comfortably in positive figures.

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Tree paeony bud

While growth has been held back this year (we still have some very decent snowdrops and even aconites in bloom), a succession of very cold nights has had some benefits. We should see fewer pests this year and after a very wet winter, the soil has been nicely ‘freeze-drying’ which should make it quite friable for putting in the new trees and shrubs we purchased a few weeks ago, still sitting in their pots awaiting release!

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the Walled Garden during the week

Spring perhaps is finally here.

The weather forecast hints that we may now have seen the last of the winter snows. Perhaps, for those in similar climes, this is the same for you?

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dark-leaved Hellebore

Wishing you a very Happy Easter!

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In like a lamb and out like a lion, and that’s just the first week!

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P.denticulata

The battleship grey skies and cold temperatures have returned, with even a light covering of snow this morning, heralding (according to the long-range forecast) a rather more wintry March than we had last year.

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The new Lonicera hedge “Great Expectations”!

Still the Good Lady was able to take advantage of some better weather in the early part of the week with some frenzied hoeing, concluding the work we were doing last weekend on the rose beds. The herb bed too has been hoed over as have the two vegetable beds in the rear part of the walled garden. The GL too planted out some Lonicera (shrubby honeysuckle) cuttings that had rooted over the winter to make a low hedge around one of the vegetable beds. These rooted amazingly quickly in the late summer and over the winter and will very quickly establish, although they are likely to require 2 or 3 trims a year. The other vegetable bed has lavender round it. These plants we grew from seed last year and are still quite small although we should get some good flowering in the mid-late summer. The box cuttings we took in the autumn have come through the winter well and these should be showing signs of root as the spring advances. When large enough, these too will be used to edge some of the borders.

wpid-20130309_100517.jpgIn the greenhouse, the sweet pea seeds have been planted, together with some ‘All the Year Round’ lettuce, some mysterious ‘trial’ leeks and some assorted wild flowers. It’s pretty early for seed-sowing here, but none of these need much heat and I’m hopeful that we’ll get some bright weather over the next few weeks which will bring them through. We’ll probably leave the herbaceous seed for a few more weeks, though, until the overnight temperatures are more consistently above 0 degrees C.

wpid-20130309_095613.jpgTaking a wander-round this morning, it was good to see the Primula denticulata (the drumstick primulas) starting to emerge from their basal cluster of leaves; we grew quite a lot of these from seed a couple of years ago and their flowering season is quite long. The first little flower of our Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’ has also appeared in the shade border – a picture will follow in a few weeks’ time when a few more have emerged!

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A. palmatum ‘Sangokaku’

And finally for this week, I was very taken with the coral-pink stems of our new Acer palmatum ‘Sangokaku’ which we put in a year ago – it’s certainly giving our red-stemmed Cornus a run for its money!

Fifty shades of green

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Skimmia ‘Kew Green’, with evergreen fern

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Portuguese Laurel, young foliage

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Holly, variety unknown

I’ve recently discovered the excellent Blotanical.com website – a global repository of gardening blogs from around the world. Bloggers can register their site and there is a manual validation procedure to ensure that each blog

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Rhododendron ponticum variegatum, with the trainee gardeners

listed there is a bona fide website. wpid-20130104_132923.jpgYou can search for blogs by country and check out both the most popular and newest blogs. You can also ‘fave’ your favourite sites regardless of the blog platform/software they use – I think that’s a real plus-point, and send messages as well. Each blogger has a rather good ‘My Plot’ area which, as well as giving a thumbnail sketch of themselves, lists some of their garden ‘favourites’ (e.g. flower, time of year, garden etc).

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Evergreen fern, close-up

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Evergreen fern with Golden Fishing Pole Bamboo in the background

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Aucuba, spotted laurel

One of the most popular websites on Blotanical.com is MySecretGarden (http://tanyasgarden.blogspot.co.uk/) and very deserving it is too of this accolade. I know that quite a lot of you are registered on Blotanical but for those who aren’t, click on the logo at the foot of the right hand column to find out more. And no, there’s no commission for me, and no cost to you! (Hint for UK, northern Europe, maybe Oceania and US night-owl bloggers – the site is ‘faster’ earlier on in the day than later on, before our US green-fingered friends pull on their gardening gloves!)

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Holly, variety unknown

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Yucca filimentosa – hardy so far!

Anyhow, I digress. The MySecretGarden’s creator, Tatyana’s favourite colour is green. Being a bit of a ‘brighter the better’ kind of person from the late Christo Lloyd School (see Exotic Planting for Adventurous Gardeners), green wouldn’t have been my first choice, I have to say, but as I was walking around the garden in the half-gloom of an early January afternoon, I did start to notice that the prevalent colour was indeed green, and I started to look at the evergreens in a new light as they shone out in the gloom. And very welcome they are at this monochrome time of year. Thank you Tatyana!

So, pictured are just a few (not 50, you’ll be pleased to hear) of my favourite shades of green taken recently.

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Rhodo bud – colour remains a mystery, for now!

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Aucuba, spotted laurel, different variety

In the spring, we’ll be ordering one or two new shrubs for the Secret Garden and the Woodland. Note to self: include some evergreens!

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for our veggie-growing friends, Leeks…(Musselburgh variety)