We’ve been enjoying the sunshine this week, it’s almost impossible to resist the temptation to go outside and get gardening. There’s plenty to do at this time: cutting back of dead growth to allow the new green shoots to come through unhindered, moving plants to better locations (an unhappy Rugosa rose to a sunnier position), weeding (or in my case eating my weeds – if you didn’t catch my post earlier this week on Cardamine hirsuta, let me inspire you to make a salad with it!)….The garden still looks a bit bare and drab in places, and the lawn needs some attention where it’s got compacted, but every moment you spot a tiny new shoot or miniscule geranium leaf poking through the ground, you know a transformation is underway.
This has also been the week of the first sightings of queen bumblebees, a hoverfly and a painted lady butterfly, coming out of hibernation to enjoy a meal from my primroses.
The queen bumblebees appreciate the Chaenomeles (Japanese quince), so valuable for its late winter/early spring colour and food source. The bumblebees have it pretty much to themselves, as my neighbour’s honeybees are not yet out of the hive. The quince is located very near our log pile, which one bumblebee was investigating very closely, possibly checking out its potential as a nesting site.
Just above the quince, my Clematis armandii sprawls along the wall. I feel that this climber is so vigorous that it exhausts itself, and isn’t able to sustain the metres of growth it tries to put on each year. I discussed this briefly with N20 Gardener, who suggests it might not be getting enough water in the summer. She’s probably right, as this is a dry spot. This means that there’s quite a lot of dieback of shoots and browning leaves, not the best look, but on the other hand it does make up for it by still managing masses of new buds. As you can see, they are just about to flush. The honeybees will definitely be out for this.
The unfurling leaves of this Acer palmatum are especially lovely and feathery. It’s been put in the ground after spending a year in a plastic pot while I hesitated over where to put it. I’m not sure if it’s going to like its new home or not, they can be tricky customers. It’s got good shelter from the wind (from the hedge behind it), it’s got sun but not too much as my garden is always partly-shaded by the house, and it will soon get a mulch of garden compost.
For colour at this time of year, I’ve got a little patch of Narcissus tete-a-tete which are undeniably cheerful and I’ve been told by many a blogger that they come back reliably each year. But I’ll have to think of something clever to avoid a bare patch in summer, any ideas?
There are also crocus dotted here and there, but in the borders their appearance is a bit sporadic and bitty. I prefer how they look concentrated in this big pot, with tulips that will come through underneath to replace them. This variety is one of the best for naturalising, they say, so I’ll replant them, maybe under the hazels.
My main preoccupation now is mulching, as the borders really look like they need it, both to improve their appearance and to nourish the soil. I was happy to see that the local farm had a large pile of material to give to local residents, what they call ‘Broyat de resineux’, resinous shredded material, so I collected five compost-bags of the stuff. I do have my own shredder now, but not quite enough material to fill all the borders. So this is a god-send!
It’s going to be a busy time for me, with the gardening workshops I’m running starting next Saturday, so I’ve got lots to organise! I may have to pause Six on Saturday occasionally, but I’ll continue to post even if it’s not the usual format, so stay tuned. Have a great and hopefully sunny springtime weekend!