Back and Forth

“In March, winter is holding back, and spring is pulling forward. Something holds, and something pulls inside of us too.” – Jean Hersey

It wasn’t just impatience that had me digging and planting a while back but rather the weeds were starting to show; a sign that the soil was warming. Come this month though, frosts and a projection of many snow days will set everything back again so I’ve started a Weather log to keep track of events including:

A vortex of arctic weather is slowly inching its way towards the UK as forecasters predict snow and freezing temperatures by mid-March

a blanketed Mahonia ‘soft caress’

Last month [see ground work] I’d already moved a few of my potted shrubs into the Japanesque garden’s shrubbery beds. To further fill out these three spaces, it was necessary to purchase a few more plants. And since I was taking a mid-February holiday in Cornwall, it meant I could pick up the Japanese shrubs I’d chosen from Burncoose Nursery:

At Burncoose there are 30 acres of woodland gardens alongside a working nursery offering over 3000 varieties of ornamental trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. ~ Great British Gardens

Burncoose is my favourite nursery not only for quality and range of choice but because the website’s very comprehensive plant information includes place of origin so even if there is no japonica or nipponica clue, it is easy to pick out Japanese plants.

And these included Hydrangea ‘Miss Saori’ a diminutive macrophylla and H. serrata ‘Yae-no-amacha’‘ as well as Spiraea ‘shirobana’, and Chaenomeles ‘Lemon & Lime’ for the fruit trellis garden. Also two evergreens: Daphne odora ‘marianni’ as well as an Azalea ‘Irohayama’ for the Japanese woodland garden.

Plant purchases are prohibitive on a tight budget so this year aside from a selection of annuals and some choice vegetables, I’ll be growing more ornamental perennials from seed. I’ve started off some in a windowsill propagator and already a few have germinated including Pennisetum, Ricinus Impala and Gaura ‘Summer Breeze’ (now renamed Oenothera – not half as lyrical as gaura from the Greek for ‘superb’).

Normally my seed sowing is somewhat haphazard, all done on a wing and a prayer and hence anything that grows and survives pricking out and planting on feels like a miracle. This year I’ve taken a much more organized approach, creating an online seed diary on this blog. Being web based it will be easy to ‘write up’ and keep track of progress.

spring bulbs under March snows!

Also coming up now a selection of potted bulbs expecting Spring but facing a wintry setback. I did not lift, dry and store the ‘red riding hood‘ tulips last year as they were new plantings (every 3 years is the advice for lifting and dividing to encourage reblooming) and foliage wise they are looking very strong. Chionodoxas, the last to show are now racing ahead of the rest – another rename as Scilla ‘Pink giant’. At some point I shall probably move some of these into the woodland garden along with the blue and the white grape hyacinths.

In the woodland, only a few winter aconites had put their green foliage frills and bright yellow heads above ground. I’d planted a quantity of these bulbs but they are difficult to become established. More patience training for the gardener but especially now whilst waiting for warmer weather to enable the planting of my Acers and new shrubs.

2 thoughts on “Back and Forth

  1. I have purchased plants from Burncoose – they do tend to be a bit pricey – but agree their website is great for plant knowledge. Their garden is fabulous in spring too, I must remember to visit it again soon, though not this week! I had a peep at your seed diary, a good idea. I haven’t been too successful in growing seeds until last year when I took it a bit more seriously buying seed compost and vermiculite and I waited until April when it is warmer in my conservatory. It’s a great feeling when things actually grow and flower! I did notice Clematis Koreana ‘amber’ among your seeds. I have that clematis and must confess that it is nothing like the pictures you see. The flowers (there haven’t been many) are almost unnoticeable among the foliage. Maybe this year it will surprise me!

    1. yes pricey but so nice! I missed the gardens as we experienced car troubles on the way and had to get back to a garage. The clematis ‘amber’ has not shown itself yet but it won RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2016 so yours might yet surprise you! Also I notice Sarah Raven has a C. koreana called ‘Blue eclipse’, an early one – but actually I’ve several Japanese ones on my wishlist.

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