One of the things that I love about this time of year is that there is still time to pause and admire each new arrival – it won’t be long before there’s so much happening that individual flowers will go unnoticed. The variety of shape and colour is extraordinary when you take a close look. The tubular petals of the bright pink bellis daisies have white interiors, while the tissue paper petals of the ranunculus look far too delicate to withstand icy blasts but seem impervious to the variability of the spring weather.
In the woodland garden the Erythronium put in a brief but lovely appearance with their recurved yellow petals – they always remind me of the hats worn by the imps in Rupert Bear Annuals of my childhood.
I try to support plants with natural materials whenever possible, whether its runner beans, sweet peas or border perennials. I’ve had lots of fun creating a woven trellis for my sweet peas with the cobnut ( a type of hazel) prunings that I collected last week. It’s something I’ve never done before, but I was dealing with a quite narrow space where there wasn’t room for the usual wigwams and I’m rather pleased with the result which is both attractive and surprisingly sturdy. If you can’t lay your hands on coppiced hazel, I have noticed that jute netting is available – not the same, but more discreet than plastic and it can be composted at the end of the season.
Hen & Hammock also sent me some rather ingenious plant supports made from a chestnut paling threaded with wire. You simply hammer the paling in place and the wire provides support that will soon disappear as the plant grows. A clever, durable and simple idea. £8.50 from www.henandhammock.co.uk
By far the greater number of bluebells in my garden are the Spanish interlopers and I suspect it is a life’s work to rid the garden of their presence, so I try to restrict them to the woodland area of the garden where they look vaguely appropriate. I don’t like them in the borders though, so now that there has been some good rain, I am taking advantage of the soft soil to dig up as many as I can, well before they can set seed and spread still further. I haven’t managed to get every bulb out, so some will return, but I have found that this is the best time of year to tackle them. This post will help you identify your bluebells. The leaves can go on the compost heap, but the bulbs will be going on a trip to the local tip. Hasta la vista babies!
It’s always nice when planning pays off and colour combinations turn out as you’ve hoped – and equally pleasing when something surprises you. I have a bit of both in the garden. The dolly tubs either side of the front door have been planted with the dainty and softly coloured Elka narcissus, combined with Exotic Emperor tulips to make a subtle early display that tones perfectly with the paint colour of the front door. As they fade they will be replaced with the later flowering vibrant pink tulip Barcelona which I have planted deeper in the tubs for a completely different effect.
Elsewhere in the garden I combined Belle Epoque tulips with bellis daisies in a stone planter and have watched in fascination as the tulips leaves have emerged with pink stripes on their leaves that exactly match the daisies – now that one wasn’t planned.
I’m making good progress with tidying the garden and replacing early spring pots of cyclamen and crocus with later flowering spring plants. My two angels always get the pick of the plants and look lovely right now with snakeshead fritillaries against a backdrop of pheasant grass.