With so much time on my hands, even with the increased cooking, cleaning and tidying for a family of five, the garden should be perfect. It’s not of course and I find myself eking out my favourite tasks and procrastinating about the boring ones. Some days my mojo is missing, and raging hayfever hasn’t helped. I was aiming to open my garden this year for my favourite hospice charity, but that is unlikely to happen, so a major spur to tidy the dodgy corners has disappeared.
Still, I’m loving my plants and seeing how the newer areas of the garden are developing. The woodland walk and rock garden get daily visits and now some decent rain has finally arrived I can fret less about watering the newer plants.
Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…
I’ve shared a few pictures of this area since building this path a year ago. At the far end of my garden, near a busy road, it’s developing wonderfully but traffic sounds mean it’s not always the most relaxing place to be. Last Easter Sunday, with barely a car on the road, I could hear only birdsong and my own footsteps.
Star of the show there at the moment are the dozens of ‘Thalia’ narcissi planted last autumn. These are sweetly scented, multi-headed and shimmer like pearl in the sunshine. The shade will soon be closing in as the trees above have reached bud burst.
A year ago I’d never seen or heard of this little flower and now I have it flowering in the woodland area, tucked in the nook of a tree trunk. It is only 7cm tall so is barely visible amongst the showier ‘Thalia’ but peer in closely and a flower fairy greets you. The flowers are each like miniature frayed lampshades, the colour of parma violets.
Seeing it in flower prompted me to check my photo file and I discovered my first encounter with this plant was exactly a year ago, on a market stall in Takayama, Japan.
This lady had a phenomenal collection of tiny treasures on her stall. At the time I was taken back by her face mask. A year later and they’re a regular sight in my local Co-op. How times have changed…
Succulents in stone urns
At the top of the steps that runs through the centre of my new rockery are these two fake stone urns. I toyed with taking them away to try and give my rockery a more natural background but decided the whole context of the rockery was unnatural anyway and that they are a good linking feature for the pathway beyond.
I would usually plant bedding plants in them but this year I decided some succulents would look fabulous instead. I transplanted sedum and ‘Hens and Chicks’ from other overgrown troughs and then at the back I planted a new Echeveria spathulatum which I bought a couple of weeks ago from alpine nursery D’Arcy and Everest (mail-order). It’s a really unusual Echeveria with a great branching growing habit.
More stone planters
A week or two ago I bought 40 alpines in a mixed lucky dip collection from a nursery called Alpines and Grasses. I’d seen a Tweet from them on #IndieNurseriesHour, a great new initiative each Monday where independent nurseries offering mail order can promote their stock. Many such nurseries have stock destined for closed garden centres and cancelled plant fairs and need new outlets during lockdown. If you’re on Twitter it’s worth a look.
After planting a few of these alpines in my rock garden I decided to plant up yet more stone urns as mini alpine gardens. Usually these planters just have pelargoniums and I really think this is a great new look for them.
Planting in stone crannies
One of the great things about my new rock garden are the many little nooks and crannies to plant up. This week I planted two of my mail-order plants there.
The first is a pretty pink Lewisia ‘Elise’ and the second an Aubretia. First I plugged the bottom half of the nook with a stone before sandwiching the plant in and covering over with more soil and a stone or two.
As usual, I grew far too many sweet peas from seed. Easter Sunday saw me, with my son, building my string and cane cordon structure. This runs parallel to my asparagus bed and is a really good use of a narrow gap between the asparagus and the edge of the bed.
I only managed to get half of my seedlings planted here so I’ve got some more structures to build. It’s a job I enjoy – lockdown fun!
This seasonal diary is part of a weekly link-up of garden bloggers from around the world, called Six on Saturday. For more information and links to other blogs crammed with gardening activity, check the blog of host The Propagator.