The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

Our very own Hanami


Every spring, people head outdoors in Japan to celebrate the cherry blossom festival known as Hanami.  

Translated as "flower viewing", this ancient custom encourages people to pause and appreciate the transient nature of life and beauty. 



Outdoor parties and picnics take place beneath the pretty cherry trees, festooned with lights to continue the celebrations long after the sun sets.

 




OK, I cheated with this one, it's apple blossom!



This display is fairly impressive, given most of the cherry trees in our garden were planted in the last year or two!  It's an exciting thought what the display will be in another 3 years.

Marching into April

 

Easter usually provides a nice long weekend to prepare the garden for the approaching summer.  This year was no different, although the high temperatures of the previous week were replaced with night time sub-zero figures and snow!



The frogs returned to sing through the night


And eventually we were blessed with some spawn! 



The spring flowers have been spectacular this year.  We added as many crocuses as we could find, moving some from the Patio Borders to the front garden to make a bigger impact. 

















Every day, we have inspected our five cherry trees for signs of blossom.  The one in the Yen has formed its dangling buds, and there are a fair few buds forming on the Tibetan cherry.  We know what to expect from these two trees.  The other three were planted after the blossom had passed so we're not entirely sure when they will appear in our lofty position.  It's an exciting time!


Something equally, if not more exciting is the appearance of numerous flower buds on the wisteria!  Last year we had a single bloom.  Following again the rule of 7s and 2s (cut back to 7 leaves in the summer and cut again back to 2 buds in winter as per TV gardener Adam Frost), this seems to have really paid off.  

We have had an Arctic blast this week however, so we have everything crossed that we haven't lost many to the frosts. 


The same applies to our about-to-flower magnolia George Henry Kern.



The peeling bark of the Tibetan cherry. 


We have two of these evergreen Osmanthus Burkwoodii in our front garden and this year they have had an extremely good season, smothered in tiny white scented flowers.


All our spring to-do tasks have been ticked off.  The fence panel above was a little neglected due to the neighbour's ivy which has now been cut back and the panel painted.


The folly and the bottom shed have also received a lick of paint, this time in a little more subdued shade.

And finally all four compost bins have been emptied and the compost spread across almost all our beds and borders as a mulch...just in time for the plummeting temperatures. 



And after 3 months, Daisy has had a proper haircut.

April is a month of change.  So many things in the garden happen so quickly, almost hourly.  As things improve in the borders, things are steadily improving "out there".  Let's not rush things.  Please continue to cover your mouth and nose, keep to the approved distances and keep washing your hands or using hand sanitiser. 

Stay safe.



Winter's end?

 After several winter storms and periods of heavy snow...




Blooms are finally beginning to emerge.  Looking back over previous years, the bulbs are about three weeks later this year.  The Rhododendron Christmas Cheer in The Yen is certainly late this year.



We spent a few hours over two days clearing each of the "rooms" that make up our garden.

It looks so bereft of colour this time of year but by getting up close and personal with each plant, there is more going on at first glance. 

Very little needed attention in The Yen other than pruning the side shoots to two buds on the wisteria.  Adam Frost of Gardener's World has some great tips, and one in particular sticks in my mind when it comes to pruning wisteria - 7s and 2s - prune the whippy side shoots to 7 buds in the summer and back again to 2 buds in February.  

We have a number of evergreens in the yen including two rhododendrons and two azaleas.  One of the azaleas has managed to keep hold of its leaves over the winter.  There is also a variegated pieris and an evergreen honeysuckle, the latter growing over the entrance arch.

It's a peaceful place to sit and listen to the birds singing. 


The other side of the path is a secluded reading nook, we call Mugwart's Retreat.  Last summer our neighbours removed a thick conifer hedge that also made this spot quite shady.  It'll be interesting to see how the plants cope with a little more sunshine.  I think the rose "Dawn" will enjoy it.  

Other than trimming back the evergreen shrub in front of the mirror and a light prune of r. Dawn that scrambles around the fence and r. Mum in a Million that grows within the obelisk, there was very little to do here but admire and sit awhile.  A tiny blue tit flitted among the leaves of the shrub picking off any emerging insects.  There are two bird boxes on the shed here but when our neighbours removed the hedge, we retrieved our open nest box, unsure until now where to place it.  Beside the evergreen shrub is perfect.  It's far enough away for us to still enjoy a quiet moment without disturbing any inhabitants and we can train the shrub to provide some cover for it.  A prickly rose is already growing alongside, as well as a pretty pink clematis. 


The two newer silver birches are beginning to develop white bark now so next winter all three will look spectacular.  For now their catkins are providing interest.  Most of the ferns here are evergreen but the older fronds will be removed once the fresh ones begin fattening up.  The papery brown bracts of the hydrangea (a plant that is repeated in each "room") will also remain on the plant for some time yet to help protect the buds from frost.


This is a variegated form of pittosporum.  It is still quite small but will eventually provide a distraction from the four compost bins in the workspace, when sitting in Mugwart's Retreat. 




Our earliest flowering clematis is armandii Apple Blossom.  This evergreen variety grows along the fence in the Terrace Border.  If you look closely you can spot the swelling flower buds which will soon open to share their almond scent.


Beneath this clematis is a cacophony of plants.  The Terrace Border is probably the one bed that isn't quite there yet.  There's no rhythm or flow.  There's a rose that needs a better soil, and there's a "found" hydrangea that isn't particularly happy in the dry soil.  It's our problem area.  Our neighbour this side has a fair few large trees including two spectacular acers which suck out any moisture.  This border is south facing too, which means full sun.  


Sun loving plants like this sedum, pushing up fat glaucous buds thrive here though, as do irises that prefer their woody rhizomes baked in barely covered soil.



At this time of year, there's a certain scent that fills the air.  Tiny inconspicuous white flowers trace the stems of the sweet box in our Long Border.  Our patio is quite large but I should imagine that if you had a small enclosed space, just one of these evergreen shrubs would be sufficient to bring its heady fragrance into your late winter garden.  Plant at the back of the border because for the rest of the year the otherwise dull shrub makes a good foil for other plants with its darker shiny leaves.  I tend to prune to shape after flowering but left alone, black berries replace the white blooms.


Snowdrops are a clear feature of the garden at this time of year and we have a handful of varieties.  I don't know any of their names but the markings are beautiful. 



We also have a pretty selection of hellebores.  Once the flower buds emerge I cut off the old foliage.  The flowers last many weeks and I'm more than happy for them to colonise an area.


In the Terrace seat, lilac primroses are beginning to bloom.   They always look a bit tatty at first because I wait a while before removing the overwintered leaves.  



All the spring bulb containers are moved into position.




Daisy here, celebrated her first birthday on 20th February.  She loves the garden too.



We are also very fortunate to have a front garden.  This is terraced due to the steep incline from the level of the house to the level of the road.

By having a terraced garden, we are able to create a stage to be viewed primarily from the front window.

In prime location is our bird feeder as I am a big fan of wild birds (other than pigeons and magpies).  We have several squirrel proof feeders containing seed mix, niger seeds which are a favourite of the gold finches, sunflower hearts which are high in fat to help busy breeding birds at this time of the year before the insects are readily available, and their favourite snacks once the babies arrive - mealworms.  We also have a fat block which starlings and tits adore.  One of our blackbirds has also learned to hover to eat from this!



Around the base of the bird feeder the season begins with a swathe of dwarf narcissi.  I adore daffodils as they remind me of my granny's front garden.  She lived in an old farmhouse and the huge lawned front garden was a sea of yellow beneath old gnarled trees in the springtime.  I don't remember what the trees were but I do remember the daffodils.  I don't have much joy with the standard sized daffodils so I tend to grow mainly dwarf varieties.  They're not the large pools of yellow from my childhood, rather we have puddles! 


In the top terrace we have a stone wall with large shrubs providing both shelter from the wind and privacy from passers-by.  These include an evergreen photinia, rhododendron, pieris and ceanothus, along with a garnet acer and a huge lacecap hydrangea.

Beneath these shrubs we are building up groupings of spring bulbs to take advantage of the light before the canopy leafs up.  Beginning with snowdrops and crocus, then narcissi and muscari before the tulips lead us toward summer.

Until then, we enjoy those hardy enough to tolerate late February at 523ft in Yorkshire. 






We are ready for spring 2021.