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April 2006

Remarkably, almost everythng survived the Winter, although a few plants have not yet put in an appearance and may or may not be there.

Many plants got ready for Spring and then waited ... and waited .... mainly due to the very dry Winter. I have never actually watered a garden in January before!

Asarum caudatum got severely frosted (strange, because the white version in the adjacent pot is fine and flowering) and Chondropetalum tectorum looks decidedly dead. The new Arisaemas have not yet appeared and nor has Trillium rivale, although the other Trilliums and Arisaemas are flourishing.

The strangest thing is Clematis montana: it was well-established, flowered well last year and grew very exuberantly afterwards; its roots had not been disturbed and I had not pruned it at all. It got as far as producing some new leaf and even some flower buds, then everything wilted and shrivelled. All the fifteen new Clematis, planted during the year, are flourishing and (where appropriate) flowering, the large-flowered varieties that I evicted are doing well in friends' gardens - so why should montana wish to die when rehderiana and florida, supposedly much more tender, thrive? I have now cut it right back, making sure all remaining stems are still green, and will wait to see if it revives.

back gardenback garden
The views up and down the garden are very similar to this time last year except that more bulbs are still flowering. The plants which were evicted have been replaced with plenty of new, and very different, ones. Clematis montana, thriving in last April's photos, is the sorry collection of brown twigs to the left of the right hand picture above.
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The Camellia in bed 1 is much the same as last year, although I did trim it back a bit, but the Pieris seems much happier and has flowered well. Clematis macropetala is growing well up the apple tree (which, by the way, produced a grand total of four apples last year - two of them rotten)
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Rhododendron 'Patty Bee' in bed 2 has grown nicely and is flowering well and the Hellebores have all settled in nicely. The five new Clematis also seem to be very happy.The wall bed is looking more settled and Campanula poscharskyana 'E.H.Frost' is flourishing. Unfortunately there must have been some Anemone root left behind when I moved the plant to the front garden, so I will have to try to get it out.
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The pots moved from the old garden are doing well, with the Erythroniums particularly happy.The new Saxifrages have settled in to the tufa well, but have not yet multiplied to spread over the surface. Clematis alpina 'Constance' and Stauntonia hexaphylla seem happy in their large pot.
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Sink 1 is largely unchanged, with only the addition of Anemonella thalictroides. I hope the Iris ensata in pots in the water dishes decide to flower this year - the only one which tried to do so last year ('Activity') produced its flower bud so late in the year that it never had a chance to open.Sink 2 is flourishing. Not only has the new Ipheion uniflorum 'Album' bulked up nicely, but Hepatica nobilis, now five years old, has never looked so good.
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The right hand side of the front garden - the 'woodland' side - is beginning to look the part, although the trees do need to grow to complete the picture. The bulbs came up well and proved to be mainly daffodils, with some muscari, white bluebells and a clump of Camassia - and red tulips.
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The new plants all seem happy and those moved from the old garden have nearly all settled in well, despite their months in various containers; the last Californian iris seems to have given up (its companions all died in their carrier bags) and the only seedlings so far from the bag which had contained Digitalis parviflora are Brunnera, Primula vulgaris and Violas - no Digitalis.Perhaps the most surprising plants are the Danae and the two Ruscus: Danae racemosa had been in its pot for 10 years, Ruscus aculeatus and Ruscus hypoglossum for 11, untouched, apart from some watering, since I had bought them. By the time I planted them the pots contained virtually no compost and had to be cut away from the plants to extract the roots without too much damage. All three are now putting up new shoots with great enthusiasm.
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The left side of the front garden looked rather bare over Winter - just the bamboos, Nandina and the tops of some of the Hemerocallis and a few bulb leaves showing above the gravel. As time passed it revealed that all of the plants had survived despite so long in their carrier bags. The only casualty was Carex 'Frosted Curls' which was there one day and gone the next - plucked up by birds! A replacement seedlng is sitting in the greenhouse, waiting to grow a bit, and for the birds to finish nesting, before it is planted out. The garden looked more lively when the narcissus and muscari started flowering ....
front garden... and then the tulips flowered and things became very much more colourful. I knew tne ones I had been given were apricot, but I didn't know that the ones in situ were scarlet. Either they didn't flower last year or they were so hidden in assorted foliage (shrubs and weeds) that I hadn't noticed them. I would never have bought them but their splashes of colour are attractive in the gravel garden. However, those which have appeared in the 'woodland' garden on the other side will be moved - they do not fit in there.

The Hemerocallis and Iris are growing well and I hope they will flower this year. The bamboos seem happy but have not yet produced any new shoots. I am hoping that everything will bulk up, so that this side of the garden looks more interesting and less like a gravelled graveyard or a beach, but it will take time.

I am getting used to my small suburban garden but I do regret having to leave so many nice trees behind when I moved; I hope the Magnolias have flowered well for the new occupants. However, this smaller garden does have compensations - I can inspect all of it, very regularly.

Weed seedlings are removed as soon as I can identify them, good seedlings are left to grow - I will soon have plenty of Primulas and Violas from seeds which hitched a ride from the old garden. I can pick off the pests - only three lily beetles so far this year, which is a distinct improvement - and squash them, so rarely need to use any chemicals (although I did have to deal with the multiple greenfly which survived the washing up liquid bath). The crushed eggshell on the Asarum pots does seem to have deterred the slugs and snails, but I may have to use something more toxic round the Hosta and Veratrums if they show any sign of damage.

Perhaps best of all is the fact that, although it is a chore, I can water the entire garden with a watering can - the hosepipe ban started at the beginning of April!


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