Tag Archive | spring bulbs

Hellebores and other Spring beauties

The last month has been less than perfect, as I have had a nasty bout of ‘flu, and haven’t been well enough to get out in the garden much. Once the worst was over, I went visiting friends and family around the country for a week, while I got my strength back. I managed to visit a fair few garden centres and nurseries while away, so returned with a boot full of delicious plants. This unusual striped hellebore was one of my finds – it is bred by Hilliers as part of their Spring Promise range, and is called ‘Lily’.

 

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I had a quick look at the other hellebores they were selling, not expecting to find anything else, but then I found yet another stunner – this time a double purple so dark it looks black, but with a softer purple showing around the edges.

 

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This is ‘Double Ellen Purple’, a superb addition to my little hellebore grove along the woodland path.

The garden is awash with Spring bulbs, all doing their best to stand up against the Spring storms. The crocuses struggle, but some have survived.

 

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My current favourite among the daffodils is this mid-sized one with swept back petals, and a rich orange trumpet. it really stands out amongst all the yellow and white varieties.

 

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This little corner bed at the end of our drive was just full of weeds, so in the winter I planted a little conifer which was swathed with fairy lights for Christmas, and added a few clumps of mini daffs that needed moving from elsewhere. Now I just need to add a little something else in front of the conifer for summer colour.

 

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We have had to add an extra layer of wire mesh around the base of our potager, as we found that the rabbits were chewing holes in our plastic deer fencing, even there is nothing inside yet for them to eat!

 

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That should stop them. The first plants have now gone in – summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries. They don’t look much at the moment, but should grow away well, helped by lots of homemade compost. I am really looking forward the the first crop.

 

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Now I need some mild, dry weather so that I can get out there and get gardening, but as it is currently raining I shall have to make do with admiring my bowl of hellebores.

 

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Putting in the paths

The only paths we have inherited in our acre and a quarter garden are the straight one that runs along the bottom edge through the wood, and a curved one through the large sloping border behind the house.

 

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The curved path starts on the patio, curves up a set of steps through the main flowerbed on the bank behind the house, and then curves back down these steps pictured above to the lawn at the front of the garden. You lose all the height you gain by going up the steps, and as there is a continuous row of shrubs on the far side of the path, you cannot access the upper lawn areas and the orchard.

 

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So we have started a little stone path that zigzags off the top of the path onto the lawn by the orchard. We are using the stones we have dug up around the garden, but it is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle fitting them into a stepped path. I think it will look lovely and rustic when it is finished, and the first of many paths to come.

One of the first things I did in the winter was to cut down a very scraggy shrubby honeysuckle just beyond the path, and lo and behold there is a view right to the far end of the garden. So finally we have now dug out the roots, so that we can have another path leading through the shrubbery and beyond.You can see the two major stumps awaiting carrying to the bonfire.

 

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I have also been out and wrestled with our new mower, and started to define the grassy paths through the ‘meadow’ that the far end of the garden will become. It is far too large an area to mow all of it, and it will be interesting to have areas of long grass.

 

 

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I have started by mowing the routes that we already walk, and will gradually add in some more mown strips to create a pleasing network of gently sloping paths by which one can explore the whole garden.

 

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I can also start to plant shrubs and trees in the curved corners of the paths, to help define the routes. It is great to see these ideas starting to show on the ground, even if we have a lot of hard work to do before they become reality.

This afternoon I tackled the ‘rockery’, a stony bank above the wall bordering the drive. I cleared away some of the weeds and ivy, and planted six aubrieta along the front edge to trail down the wall. Well, at least I hope they will, as it is a north facing wall, so not as sunny as is ideal.

 

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The front lawn continues to be a delight, covered as it is with fritillaries, primroses, daffodils, anemones, and grape hyacinths. At least one area of the garden is already a riot of colour!

 

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Happy Easter from Devon!

Today has been a typical Spring day of sunshine and showers. Ok, so the showers were hail, but the wind was from the South, and it wasn’t too cold. This morning I treated myself to a ride on the beach on my latest riding school horse, Bernadette, AKA Bernie, who is a 16hh ish coloured cob, all hair and mud stains, but with a heart of gold. There were eight of us on the ride, and we all had a fab time with several really fast gallops along the beach. Shame about the hail stinging on our faces!!

This afternoon we gardened in between the showers. The shed is now finished, and looking very smart.

 

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We also finished digging out the Rosa rugosa roots, and raked over the big bare patch. Now to wait for it to regrow from all the bits of broken root…

The garden is still full of daffodils and other Spring bulbs

 

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The woodland path is just stunning, and I really need to plant some colour for later in the year, as it is going to look quite plain once these are gone. I have relocated our new birdbath to the front of our main flowerbed, and it looks great there. The robins have been bathing regularly. They seem to like to bathe in the nesting season, possibly to help control the parasites that can be a problem in their nests.

 

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We have a very special flower coming up in the front lawn

 

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See all the little nodding purple flowers? They are snake’s head fritillaries, and the lawn is covered with them.

 

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They come in a white form too, but I like the purple, with it’s fancy chequerboard pattern. Along with the blue anemones, the daffs and the hundreds of primroses, the front is quite a picture!

 

 

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Quarterly report

Yes, we have been living here now for three months, and three wet and windy months they were too. Looking back to what the house and garden were like when we moved in on the 1st December, I can see that we have made progress, but I can also see how much there is still left to do.

I have spent most of the time just cutting back and tidying up, so that all the thousands of spring bulbs can come up and shine.

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The woodland path is lined with daffodils now.

 

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I seem to have many different varieties in various combinations of yellow, white and orange, but these are my favourites so far. Neither tall and brash like the yellow trumpets, nor tiny like the ‘Tete a tete’, they have elegant flowers with slightly reflexed yellow petals and a darker, orange trumpet.

 

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Some crocuses have been appearing, but they don’t cope well with the strong winds and rain, so don’t last long. Maybe if spring had been later, they might have emerged after the worst of the weather, but everything is so early this year that the flowers are encountering weather they are just not prepared for! I have the odd clump of Dutch crocuses in purple, yellow, and striped blue.

 

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I also have a scattering of the delicate lilac species Crocus tommasinianus.

 

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Today I planted up another patch of garden, this time the bare area where the old rose pergola stood.

 

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I have put in a large flowered shocking pink Cistus which will grow and spread to cover a large area over time, and a Convulvulus cneorum with its lovely silver leaves and white flowers as a bonus really. The three small plants are Lithodora, blue-flowered rockery plants, and I have transplanted some of the little daffodils from somewhere where they were at risk of being trodden on. It doesn’t look much yet, but they should cover the ground nicely in a couple of years.

The other big improvement which has only just been fitted in our first quarter, is a new garage door – one that actually locks…

 

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The old door was pale blue-green to match the windows, and I was worried that the new one (available in lots of colours, none of them blue/green) would look wrong. I am pleasantly surprised Рthe cream matches the window ledges and the other, rendered side of the house, and looks like it was always there. We have also painted our two little wooden tubs  РI think they look very smart by the front door.

So, after three months, we are feeling very at home here. I have joined the gardening club and the walking club. I volunteer in the community shop. We attended the village quiz night, and have dined in the local pub.

Life is a little different to before. Our daily chores now involve re-laying the fire in the log-burner, refreshing the flower vases, and re-filling the bird feeders. Our weekend walks have included the beaches, the coast path, the banks of the estuaries, the rocky headlands and the woods. We have explored Ilfracombe, Braunton, Barnstaple and Bideford.

But we still haven’t explored Exmoor, which is something we want to spend time doing, and we haven’t yet ventured to Exeter, our nearest city. So much to do, so little time…

I have also written thirty nine blog posts! Goodness me, I hope you are enjoying reading them, and do please feel free to leave me a comment below. Thank you.

February at Rosemoor – bulbs and sculptures

My mother kindly gave me RHS membership for Christmas, and I was keen to visit our local garden at Rosemoor, near Great Torrington. Like all RHS gardens, it is really well kept, with lots of interesting, choice plants, and there is always something to see in all seasons.

 

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There were plenty of spring bulbs in flower, but interestingly, all the daffodils were delicate species, with no big strident trumpet varieties. Very stylish! These ones under the tree were N. bulbodicum, the hoop-petticoat daffodil.

 

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There is a very nice winter garden, and I loved this combination of a yellow witch hazel with the red berried Skimmia, and the lush grass.

 

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There has been a sculpture exhibition all winter, with all the works for sale. There were plenty to discover, and I didn’t take photos of all, just those that appealed to me. Unsurprisingly they are mostly of animals, or plants.

 

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The stag would have come home with me, except we can re-furnish the living room with the money he would cost…

There is lots of inspiration in a garden like Rosemoor.

 

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Not sure I need a hobbit hole though…

 

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I shall try and visit once a month through the year. Visitors are welcome to come too…

Progress in the garden

 

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I have now removed the tumbledown rose arch, which opens up a lovely view of the bank beyond. Ok, there’s not much planted on that bit, but give me time…I do like a garden centre visit! The other news is that the biggest of my three thickets of Rosa rugosa has gone. We paid the local gardeners to do it, as it was a massive undertaking. Hard to believe this all grew from a small clump of plants…

 

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They have dug out most of the major roots, but there is still the odd bit that needs doing. And being the thug it is, it will regrow from all the little bits that are left. The plan is to leave this vast area fallow, and spray off any regrowth this year, so that hopefully it can be grassed next year. It has really opened up this central area of the garden, so I am very pleased.

New bulbs are popping up everywhere, and the snowdrop glade is a real picture.

 

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The mini daffs are now appearing in unexpected places, and adding to the show.

 

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I treated myself to a Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) the other day, as it is a lovely variety with flowers that lift up to face you, not droop down.  It is planted by the path to the shed where I can admire it every day.

 

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Early spring flowers

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Today has been very mild, so quite a contrast to the recent heavy frosts. The first of the mini daffs has opened, and seems a true miniature of a large yellow trumpet type. The snowdrops continue to pop up in the woodland, but are not fully open yet.

 

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As with the daffodils, I keep finding them hidden under other plants, and I will need to dig them out and give them a better home. They are too special to leave hidden in the undergrowth!

 

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I found a grape hyacinth today; only a common bulb, I know, but it is still nice to know that I have some…or one anyway!

 

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The first of many daisies has flowered. I do like daisies in a lawn, so the front lawn will be spot treated to remove unwanted weeds, while leaving the daisies, primroses, and bulbs well alone.

 

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My new hellebore has opened it’s first flower. It is such a pretty double. The only others I have found round the garden have been less impressive, so I think i need to treat myself to a few more choice varieties.

 

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The frosts damaged all the open flowers on my azalea, but I think there are more buds which will open. The camellia suffered the same fate, but has already covered itself in fresh flowers. Such a joy to see them at this time of year!

 

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Not all cream teas and coast walks

I know that I paint a picture of a lovely lifestyle here in Devon, and, don’t get me wrong, it is pretty good, but there are always going to be things that go wrong, and things that need dealing with, and it is all hard work.

Today we had our leaky shower fixed, so that is one issue dealt with. Tomorrow an engineer will hopefully stop our precious heating oil dripping from a leaky joint. Then the garage door gets fixed….it just goes on and on.

It’s not much better in the garden.

 

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This is the archway right outside my kitchen door. Once an attractive structure, I am sure, with a lovely climbing rose carefully trained over it. Now it is a crumbling unsightly eyesore completely swamped by dead rose stems. There is an outer layer of living rose, but it obviously hasn’t been tended for years. It will have to go!

Talking of roses, do you know the species rose, Rosa rugosa? Healthy foliage, large single fragrant pink flowers, followed by huge orange hips. What’s not to like???

 

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This is one of three patches of Rosa rugosa in my garden. This one is at least 10 metres across… It spreads, and regrows if chopped to the ground, and is extremely thorny. It has to go before it takes over. Yeah…maybe next week.

 

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This is the centre of my main perennial bed. I haven’t tackled this area yet. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was there until I had trimmed away some dead foliage round the edge, and saw what was beyond. I will get to it soon, now I have finished working on the front of the border.

 

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The wheelbarrow contains the dead leaves of just one of my fifty thousand clumps of crocosmia. The border does look better now I have cleared away the dead stuff though. The photos aren’t quite at the same angle, but you get the idea.

 

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It’s not all doom and gloom, however. I uncovered this little beauty while clearing – it is a spring snowflake, much taller than a snowdrop, and a solid bell rather than individual petals. Not supposed to flower until at least February.

 

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Everything is confused by the weather. This hydrangea is continuing to put out new flowers!

 

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as does this azalea.

 

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And the daffodils and other bulbs are coming up all over the garden, so I have a feeling we are going to have a spectacular spring display. If it ever stops raining!

 

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