Neither one thing or the other

Iris danfordiae planted late so flowering later

A low pink smudge across the sky to the east is dissipating, although brightening, the sun remains hidden in grey murk (the weather station is optimistically showing sunshine). The wind is from the NE and it’s 2.4C, officially we’re in the last few days of winter. The beginning of March next week heralds spring.

The wash of snowdrops in the copse at the bottom of the garden is starting to look bedraggled on closer inspection. In the woodbed Galanthus Brenda Troyle has long outlasted Magnet. Crocuses have given their best, petals growing translucent with repeated battering by winds, rain, frost, and the effort of opening and closing to embrace spells of sunshine. Blue Pearl and the golden chestnut-backed petals of Herald have been particularly showy in pots left over from last year.

Small daffodil Topolino
Small daffodil Topolino

It’s the turn now of the daffodils. In flower here this morning tiny Topolino and the scented bright yellow with small darker cup Martinette. One of the thin-leaved wild jonquill related cultivars is declining in my claggy soil but I still have Sweetness, Rip Van Winkle, Sailboat and Pheasant’s Eye to look forward to.

Tulipa sylvestris buds are showing a slip of yellow.

Hazel twigs are browning up and there’s green to be seen in the quince buds. At the moment the hornbeams still carry most of their rattling old leaves but soon they’ll be shucking them off as the new surge of growth begins in earnest.

Robins continue to dispute their territories. The other morning a full-on scrap lasting seconds, two rolled around on the lawn, legs outstretched wings flapping away.

The Barn Owl still seems to hunt mostly during the day, just now the Carrion Crows were mobbing it, presumably getting tetchy as nesting season proper will begin soon.

Bye, bye aquilegias


Aquilegia Downy Mildew - Munstead White from seed
Aquilegia Downy Mildew – Munstead White from seed

I think I may have the dreaded ‘new’ aquilegia disease, Aquilegia Downy Mildew. The new growth on my plants started out looking fine but is now frazzled and blasted in places.

I bought a couple of plants in a garden centre sale a couple of years ago which never looked right and they succumbed first. The patch next to them of A atrata and Black Barlow has disappeared. Plants of  Munstead White from seed and bought-in in the next bed are ailing.

Curtains for aquilegia in this garden for a while, which is a great pity as they’re one of the plants of early summer that encapsulate the freshness and frivolity of the season.

Apparently the problem is a mould that spreads within the leaves. Burning not composting is the order of the day. It must have been heartbreaking for the National Collection holder when she saw her aquilegias being decimated. More about the disease

In search of Everlime

Carex oshimensis Everlime
Carex oshimensis Everlime

The other half came back from a garden centre recently with a whole lot of evergreen grasses which were in the sale. They were all various types of carex. Having poo-poo’d his purchases, I thought that one particular carex, and typically the only one without a label, would look good in a new flower bed we’d just created.

I consulted Neil Lucas’s Grasses book and was pretty sure it was a form of C oshimensis. Evergold is the classic variegated form. And being lazy I assumed the new purchase was Evergold so bought another 3 plants from Knoll Gardens. It wasn’t. Closer observation would have told me that Evergold has a bright yellow strip down the centre of the leaf and green margins. The newbie has a green central strip and pale lime margins, far more subtle.

The search continued online. It turns out to be Everlime one of a series of new C oshimensis introductions from Pat Fitzgerald a nurseryman in Ireland. Thanks to Grasslands Nursery I now have 3 further plants joining the original.

Never go back

The title of a piece from Trad’s blog (Hugh Johnson). Over many years he created an arboretum at his old home, Saling Hall. Having sold-up he returned recently to find the new owners had cut down most of his prized trees – gutting!

In Country Life this week Charles Quest-Ritson comments that the gardens of a number of well known plantsmen are no more but the memory and legacy of those gardens and gardeners survives in the plants passed-on to others.

I saw my first small garden on Zoopla recently. I think the tiny terraced house near RAF Lyneham (as was) in Wiltshire is buy to let now. The cotswold chipping area by the back door that was there when I bought it is still there with some added paving and a pergola. There is a newer smaller shed on the same spot half-way down the garden. A high laurel hedge now forms a dense boundary down one side of the garden and not a trace of the roses and shrubs I planted – although there is something that looks like a hacked back eucalyptus trunk in the background behind the shed – could it be from all those years ago? Are some of the shrubby blobs also in the distance also relics of my plantings?

In this garden we live with a large Cypress tree that the owners 3 removes away (who still live in the village), remember buying as a small twig from Woolworth’s over 30 years ago. I believe there was a more formal garden here too, but all that had gone, nature had taken over somewhat when we moved in. Now we stamp our brief mark here on this land before future owners do what they will.

The garden is still is running wild! The moles have really rucked the grass up over the winter, running under the skin as it were between grass roots and earth proper. The whole lawn is comprised of peaks and troughs with occasional ankle turning larger dips to catch the unwary.

Crocus tommasinianus - épuiser for this year
Crocus tommasinianus – épuiser for this year