Garden Notes March

Garden Notes March
 
 Spring is Blooming!

Coming up  on the 12th March we have a Spring Gardens workshop. An opportunity to pick up a few ideas and get some impetus to begin in the garden this season. Ideas of what to plant and why its worth preparing you borders with some good soil conditioner now.

Some of the first things that hint its spring here are the big Queen Bees. Its personified because we have such a vast aray of plants compared to the average garden. They come out of hibernation and are ravenously bumbling around for good sources of nectar. Hellebores, primroses and the hazel catkins are perfect for them as are the flowering currants and pussy willows. I was surprised to read that the ivy flowers are probably the best source of bee sustenance. They are particularly drawn to our hellebore beds.

Whilst we are mentioning wildlife do not light any old bonfire stacks yet. The hedgehogs are still returning and sleeping in them through the day. If you see a hedgehog its probably in trouble.

Mother’s Day Primroses our the traditional gift.

Where would we be on Mother’s Day without a few pretty primroses. Perfect to plant in a dainty spring basket and give to Mum. Most of us can’t resist at least a handful of the colourful hybrid varieties in our pots and tubs.

I think there is nothing more beautiful than the soft yellow primrose Primula Vulgaris (the common Primrose) naturalising with the bluebells, ferns, polemonium, bergenia and dicentra under the trees.

We overlook how many different primroses exist and how pretty and unusual they can be, it would be a very long list of varieties.Have you spotted some of these gorgeous double primroses.Perfect little presents.

Most of us remember the common Oxslip or cow slip as it was originally called because it was often seen in fields with cows. Primula Veris still grows wild in meadows and often in deciduous woodlands. It’s a tough little plant.

Here are some of my spring shrub favourites

Magnolia Stellata a deciduous shrub originally from Japan, so it’s hardy in our climate. The flowers are large white and star shaped. It’s easy to grow in a warmish spot in reasonably drained, reasonably fertile soil and does not require a lot of fuss. Right now as a large bush or a tree for a small garden it will be the envy of your neighbours!

Another small tree that may be kept as a shrub not to be overlooked is the Amelanchier. White spring blossom and later berries and autumn foliage make it a tree of valuable interest.  If you only have a small space to squeeze one the variety Obelisk is conveniently narrow.

The other shrub that has something a bit special about it at the moment is also white. It is the Exochorda. It’s called The Bride and similar to the feathery white Spiraea Arguta the whole of this medium 5ft deciduous shrub is clothed in flowers like pure white bridal wreath. Flowers are about the size of a ten pence piece. Like the above it is also hardy. It grows in most soils not requiring a prime position. It is dazzling when in flower and much sought after by our customers.

Daphne odora Marginata is probably one of the most popular Mothers day choices and it is justified. Sweet pink flowers, evergreen leaves with creamy margins and the most wounderful scent, rivalled only by my other top choice Saraccocoa or Christmas box. There are a few similar varieties varing slighly in hight and slight flower difference but its a wonderful evergreen with a magnificent perfume. It is largely pale flowers with the strong perfume to ensure wildlife do seak them out.. Inevitably they have a lot to offer our wildlife. These two  medium shrubsbelong in everybodys garden.

Herb Baskets and Containers make excellent gifts.
If I didn't have a garden center this would probably be my choice gift. Its something that not only looks pretty, suports wildlife and I use them all year in my cooking.Small bay lolly pop trees underplanted with thyme sage and majoram or pots of simply rosemary or mint these are plants we really need in abundance.

Cottage Garden favourites

The spring cottage garden plants are also just waking from their winter slumber. The hellebores which I was admiring last month are still in full flower. I absolutely love the perennial forget me not Brunnera. The big oval heart shaped leaves, a little similar in size and shape to the reliable spring lungwort’s hairy leaves, edge the borders in my shady beds. I feel the dramatic frosty silver veining that decorates the leaves of my favourite varieties Jack Frost and creamy leaf margins of Hadspen Cream, justifies its planting even before the mass of blue. These are excellent easy ground cover plants in shade or dappled shade as are the Pulmonaria (Lungwort). If I had to recommend my favourite pulmonaria it would definitely be the vivid Blue Ensign recently given the Award of Merit by the RHS . Blue plants are much sought after in my garden and this blue is magnificent.

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