New Beginnings

Planting a garden from scratch is a very pleasurable thing to do, but it does require patience. 😉 Until the beginning of March there was nothing to see out there apart from my Hellebores, and the two flower beds – just large patches of brown soil – did not look promising!

Last autumn I posted here about my new Herb Bed and Butterfly Bed. I planted both mainly with small plants, delivered from my favourite nursery in 9cm pots. Bulbs were then also planted and since February a few additions have been made. So now I invite you to come along with me and see how the garden is looking a few months later.

Here is the Butterfly Bed in spring…

Yes, it still looks rather bare! But I am very optimistic as I believe almost every single plant has come through. (One aster is still not showing any signs of life, and I am not sure the Verbena bonariensis will have survived.) The Hellebores are still going strong – here is the star of the show, Ice ‘N’ Roses “Rose”…

It has just flowered non-stop since October, and the flowers seem a much deeper pink than when I first planted it.

And here is another I planted earlier this year: ‘Double Ellen Pink’…

I love those frilly petals!

And ‘Double Prince White’…

This one can hardly be called white, rather a lovely cream with beautiful green centres as the flowers fade.

The bulbs were very slow to come up and flower, but that may be due to the fact that there is so far no shelter in this very exposed site. That should change next year, as ground cover and grasses fill out. The last week or so has been warm and sunny though, and the grass is growing and the first tulips have opened.

Tulip turkestanica…

… and my old favourites ‘Heart’s Delight’. The stems grow a little each day, and the colour deepens within days from almost white to a deep coral pink with a gorgeous canary yellow centre.

The Anemone blanda opened at the weekend too. You can also just see a Geranium phaeum seedling on the right here – brought over from the old garden. I am hoping it will spread itself around here too.

I also brought back some Primula seedlings and this Pulmonaria, which was right next to one labelled ‘Wuppertal’, so I am callling it that since I know no better!

I haven’t managed to get any photos yet, but the butterfly bed has had some butterflies visit already – Peacocks, Tortoiseshells and Brimstones. Plenty of bees too. 🙂

Now let’s take a very brief look at the Herb Bed as it is still looking rather empty…

Although predominantly herbs, there are a few other plants as fillers, and naturally plenty of spring bulbs. I am pleased to see that all the Stipa tenuissima seem to be alive as I was warned young plants may not be entirely hardy. And the Rosemary didn’t bat an eyelid at being buried under a mountain of snow that fell on it from the roof! Talking of snow, a splash of blue Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) is nice against the brown soil. 🙂 (That is lemon Thyme in the background).

One lesson learned this winter was that wooden lollipop sticks for labels using normal pens is not a good idea. After rain, snow and wind they are practically indecipherable! I am writing down every single plant added to the garden, but I wonder how long I will keep that up. I do have a few black plastic labels and find that silver or white markers work very well and last for several years. But perhaps you have another labelling system that is more environmentally friendly?

Do share!

Thanks for joining me.

Happy gardening!

🙂

A Taste of Spring and a ‘Vase’ on Monday

Since the end of last November we have had hard frosts almost every night, and every morning I look out at my poor hellebores lying prostrate and forlorn…

… then a couple of hours later (if temperatures have risen above freezing point) they will be standing upright once again… a daily miracle that I have wondered at time and again!

A couple of hours later

I am very impressed with the pink Ice ‘n’ Roses ‘rose’ hellebore I planted last autumn. It has flowered non-stop despite the frosts. My white one – ‘Christmas Carol’ – has also done well and both have large enough flowers to be visible from some distance.

I recently visited a nearby garden centre to look for another one to join them. There was little choice (garden centres here are half empty at this time of year, since the ground is usually frozen) but I did find a small ‘Double Ellen Purple’ which had been on my wish list. With some sunny days and milder nights forecast I will plant it out later.

Double Ellen Purple

How wonderful it is to be out gardening once again!

Other news in my garden:

  • The rosemary seems to have survived the winter…so far! (A late March freeze last year got my last one, so I mustn’t speak too soon)
  • The greenhouse is in the process of being planned – it will have a solid foundation with a base wall, so planning permission and building work will mean it might be up by the autumn. I’m a gardener, so I have patience!
  • My Man of Many Talents has kindly dug over a new patch of grass for my next project: the Sunshine Bed. I am so excited about it! (More on that when planting starts in April)
  • We have dozens of mistle thrushes feeding on worms on the ground all around the house at various times of the day – even when there is still frost. They hop a few steps and cock their heads to one side as if listening and then…. ‘peck’ and the worm is gone! They are such pretty birds, but very shy, so this is the best shot I have got so far.

Mistle thrush

Mistle thrushes feeding

I am pleased we have enough worms for them!

Finally, a little taste of spring in my teacup…

One of each of my hellebores: Ice ‘n’ Roses ‘rose’, Double Ellen Purple, and Christmas Carol.

Thanks go to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the In a Vase on Monday meme. Go and visit her to see what she and other bloggers around the globe are finding in their gardens for a vase (or two) this week.

New Flowerbeds 2018: Update

If you visit here regularly you will know I had two new flower beds dug at the beginning of the month. Well, I was extremely lucky and our beautiful October weather continued long enough for me to get the plants in that I had ordered, as well as several hundred bulbs.

Here is a photo of the herb bed in the sunshine…

… and on a frosty morning (We even had snow flurries today!)…

This contains my kitchen herbs as well as some for pure decoration such as a red-leaved Hypericum. I added some grasses – a couple of Pennisetum, an Erogrostis trichodes and several small Stipa tenuissima (will the Stipa survive our winter I wonder?) – and a Viburnum (‘Eskimo’) as a focal point in the middle. The rosemary has been planted out, rather optimistically, from a pot. Depending on how cold the winter is it should survive with a bit of coddling (i.e. mulch and fleece). (Any tips on overwintering rosemary?)

The other bed is the ‘Butterfly Bed’…

… and has already been visited by a few late butterflies, including this one (no idea what it is), posing on this newly planted Aster pringlei ‘Pink Star’…

I have also planted a lot of different grasses here as wind protection as well as for their love of dry and open positions. But among the grasses are geraniums, lavender, verbena, Japanese anemones, Perovskia and three buddleias. I am not sure if I should cut the buddleias back as they are only about 1m tall anyway. Any buddleia experts out there?!

I also bought this lovely Hellebore “Ice ‘n’ Roses, rose” from a garden centre. It is a new hybrid from the north of Germany and is supposed to flower from December to April! Well, this one is already in flower, brought on early for the nurseries, and it is so very pretty.

It will be nerve-wracking to watch these exposed beds through the winter, but most of the plants were small, well-rooted specimens from my favourite trusted online nursery (in southern Germany) costing only a few euros each, so hopefully any casualties will be minimal and not too expensive to replace. With our last two springs being so very warm and extremely dry, I have become wary of spring planting and am taking some risks.

Do you prefer to put in new plants in autumn or in spring?

As I write the rain and sleet is hammering against the window – a fine start to our ‘winter time’, as we turned our clocks back last night. Do your clocks change soon too? The debate is on in the EU whether we should finally get rid of daylight saving and stay with ‘summer time’ all year. But it may take some time before a decision is made. I will just wait and see, as I can’t see much of an advantage either way!

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Recycling

This Monday meme, hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, encourages us to use materials from our gardens to put in a vase.

Well, the vase is new today, but the materials are the same as last week – just trimmed down a little. The asters still look good, and the sedums last well until their stems just fall apart. One Persicaria stem and a couple of yellow Achillea also lasted well enough to reuse.

And the photos are taken outdoors at the corners of my two brand new flower beds!

This one below will be the ‘butterfly bed’, with a focus on flowers for pollinators, but with some grasses too. The first lot of plants have been ordered and I am hoping the wonderful golden October weather will continue once they arrive in a week or so.

And the second bed will be home to more grasses, but primarily herbs. The soil here at our country house is very well-drained and sandy (a good layer of rich topsoil has been added for planting). The position is south-west and exposed to strong sun and wind. This could be a real challenge!

Thanks to Cathy and all the other Monday vase creators who welcome the week by sharing their beautiful and cheerful arrangements!