One of my tasks (pleasures) this week will be to go round the garden and give all the summer and autumn flowering clematis a prune. I often think it’s all made unnecessarily complicated with talk of flowering groups etc. Basically, if its going to flower in the next few weeks leave it alone (prune after flowering if it needs restricting). For all the rest, cut back to a pair of strong buds about 20cm from the ground and mulch with well-rotted compost. It works for me……
Everywhere I look in the garden the ground is thick with hellebore seedlings – I can scarcely credit there was a time when I really struggled to grow them, now I have to treat the majority of the seedlings as weeds or they will crowd out everything else and never amount to much themselves. So, I will transplant some into the shady areas where there is still space for a few more, pot some up to grow on and give away and hoe up the rest. It seems sacrilegious, but it is also an example of how, if you get the conditions right, a plant will thrive and multiply. Our light sandy soil is not their preferred habitat, but over the years I have mulched the woodland areas with shredded bark that retains moisture and adds organic matter. The other way to keep hellebores happy is to make sure that they are not too closely overhung by shrubs or trees in the summer – they like light dappled shade, not Stygian gloom.
It’s not just me who is enjoying the newly arrived and glorious spring weather – as I type this sentence, a butterfly has flitted past the window. And earlier as I did my morning patrol to see what new delights are on offer I watched a bumblebee foraging in the pussy willow. The most exciting discovery of the morning was the peach blossom – I cover the tree in January and February to help keep peach leaf curl at bay – today seemed a perfect day to uncover it and there was the blossom. What a treat.
Regular readers of the blog will know that I post an annual peon of praise to this delightful crocus. Despite its delicate looks, it is tough as old boots, self seeds everywhere – including amongst cracks in the paving – and is much loved by the bees. I wasn’t the only one enjoying the sunshine as I worked in the garden yesterday – the crocus, snowdrops, hellebores and daphne were all being visited by honey bees and their humming was a joy to hear. And a butterfly ventured out too. Early spring flowers are a vital food source for beneficial insects as well as a delight to the eye.
I have a nasty feeling than many of the tulips that I planted last autumn are going to succumb to various viruses because of the endless wet weather. Tulips like to grow in free-draining soil, but even some of those in containers are showing signs of stress. I’m not sure whether containers with no sign of growth as yet have just rotted in the soil or are holding back for improved conditions. Fingers crossed it’s the latter.