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My Garden, April 1997

April 4th, 1997

The weather has been exceptionally warm for March and the garden is now blooming. It has also been very dry, with no sign of "April showers" yet, and I am having to water everything - not what you would expect this early, and not a good sign for the rest of the year.

I have been clearing the bits of garden that I haven't seen much of for the past year or two, ending up with vast heaps of cut bramble and assorted ash and sycamore saplings together with bags full of couch grass roots. I ended up with so much that I abandoned the idea of taking it to the tip and have arranged to have it taken away!

I can now see what is left at the bottom of the garden - it's the first time I have seen my Viburnum tinus flowering. The rockeries are still a mass of grass, one of the beds is still under a heavy layer of white Clematis armandii and the second one is full of weeds which I dare not disturb too much because many of its plants are not due to put in an appearance yet so I don't know if they are still there. But most of it is looking much more civilised now.

It is all getting much more colourful - mainly green, white and pale colours, punctuated by the odd patch of vibrant pink. The daffodils are out in force, the Amelanchier and Pyrus are covered in blossom, the little white prunus has almost finished blooming and the Magnolias denudata, stellata and x soulangiana are all flowering well. Cercis siliquastrum is covered in buds, although it is still also covered in last year's pods, and looks as if it will open soon.

View of the garden
View of the garden
Looking down the garden past the Amelanchier
Amelanchier & daffodils
Amelanchier & daffodils
Magnolia denudataNarcissus "Foundling" and Iris unguicularis
Magnolia denudata in front of the Cotinus
Narcissus "Foundling" & Iris unguicularis
Magnolia x soulangianaThe pink Clematis armandii is superb this year, covering the top of the cat run/fruit cage, trying to smother the Nectarine and intertwining with the Wistaria. The latter is covered in buds and looks as though it may open before the Clematis finishes (late frosts permitting) which will give an interesting new combination.

Iris unguicularis decided to flower at last - at least two months later than previous years - and the named Narcissi are all doing well (except for N.caniculatus which refuses to flower for me)

The primulas are flowering well in great variety. In addition to the pale yellow and white primroses there are various shades from purple through mauve and pink to almost salmon as well as deep yellow, with polyanthus types as well - very promiscuous things, primulas! I suppose I should never have planted out the two fancy potted pink ones a couple of years ago - they obviously got on only too well with the natives.

The various Anemone nemorosa have spread nicely as well, especially the odd "Virescens" which started as a single root three years ago and is now a lovely clump.

Magnolia x soulangiana
Clematis armandii
Clematis armandii
Narcissus ThaliaBrunnera macrophylla
Narcissus "Thalia" & Primula "Wanda"
Brunnera macrophylla under Cercis siliquastrum
The violas are also very colourful and the odoratas are doing particularly well. I started off with the deep blue one at the bottom of the garden, white at the top of the garden and pink "Coeur d'Alsace" in the middle: in addition, I now have pale blues, white edged with blue and white edged with pink flourishing all over the place. Dark Viola labradorica has just opened and "Freckles" is also flowering in clumps all over the beds.

Fritillaria meleagris, purple and white, has seeded well since I planted it five years ago and is now a good spread under the Cercis, while at the other side of the tree the clump of Brunnera macrophylla has also seeded itself about rather a lot.

The lilies are coming up well, but unfortunately so are the lily beetles. They first appeared last year - pretty little things but totally devastating so they got sprayed and that was the last of them until yesterday: they got sprayed again! (I'm quite happy to let most of the wildlife get on with killing each other without intervention, but I draw the line at lily beetles - and ants. I also use slug killer in the alpine house, but let natural control deal with them outside.)

... and talking of wildlife, the frogs have been doing their impression of motorbikes at the bottom of the garden and there is frogspawn in the ponds. The robins are also much in evidence, watching closely for food whenever I do any weeding. I have also discovered three fox earths under the brambles, but so far have not seen the foxes themselves, so perhaps they have moved on. I certainly hope so - they can be guaranteed to cavort all over the more delicate plants and bury bones in the most inopportune places.

Fritillaria meleagris
Cyclamen repandum & Primula vulgaris
Cyclamen repandum & Primula vulgaris
A.nemorosa "Virescens"
Anemone nemorosa "Virescens"

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