An Instagram retrospective of March 2017
I’d left the towering cardoons as long as possible over the winter, but, in all honesty, they were starting to look a bit ropey. Possibly even a bit sinister. I think my clients were just too polite to mention, but really, it was time for them to go.
The cardoons got the chop today. They were glorious throughout the summer, and an imposing, somewhat sinister presence in the garden over winter – tall, fallen angels, with downturned heads and tattered wings. SNIP… cut down and carried off to the bonfire along a path thick with snowdrops, dropping bits along the way. #march #spring
Michelle Chapman over at the wonderful VegPlotting blog ran a weekend dedicated to the #mygardenrightnow hashtag, which gave us all the opportunity to reveal the present state of our gardens at the end of winter.
Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, a bit of an SClub7 moment as the sweet pea seedlings sprang to life...
...and in the potting shed, it was take the dahlia tubers out of storage, check them over for damage, and pot them up.
Time to check the #dahlia tubers we lifted in autumn - Eveline and Selina here. All in pretty good nick, dry and firm, no mushy bits. A couple of slightly furry looking sections which I'll cut out, along with last year's mother tuber that's done its work. And they're big now, so I'll probably divide into three, though could probably get many more as long as there are growth eyes on each section. Now to pot up, feed, water and cosset a bit for the next few weeks. #swipeleft #tw
The flowers appearing on the willow are a milestone in the year, marking the moment at which bumblebees emerge from hibernation in search of nourishment, before flying off to set up their hives and nurture their broods.
The sun is out, and so are the flowers on the pussy willow (Salix caprea). This lovely old tree seems to have been coppiced in its youth, lost a bit from the middle, and then simply been allowed to grow to a huge size. Every March it springs into life, and is currently thrumming with the noise of queen #bumblebees, feeding themselves up after a long cold winter's hibernation.
I tried my utmost to like daffodils...
...and decided that there’s only one for me.
Narcissus 'Thalia'. The only daff approved by me. Actually, there are a several in the Triandrus Group ('Angels' tears', hailing from Spain and Portugal) to which it belongs that are rather nice, all with the elegantly backwards curving petals and trumpets of a decent length, so they don't appear like Lego flowers as so many of their ghastly relatives do. #daffodils #tw #mystoryoflight #peninpractice
Signs of life began to push themselves up through the mulch, and it’s been encouraging to see the variety of foliage and flower begin to make a return to the garden.
It's getting very spring-like, the light is back, and the clocks go forward NEXT WEEKEND! 🕰I love this little chap leaning out over the curb stone – Pulmonaria, the lungwort, fabulous relative of the forget-me-not and the borage whose flowers you stick in your Pimms. Oh, and the cherry-vanilla scented heliotrope that popped up in my mum's @telegraph crossword yesterday. No plant family does blue flowers better. #boraginaceae
It’s been particularly dry recently, so it was good to welcome some rain, even if I happened to be orientated in the least fortunate direction as it arrived.
Here comes the rain, a bit early. I'm styling it out for as long as possible with the iPod loaded up with the latest #hashtagauthentic podcast from @me_and_orla, and the new @ellygriffiths17 novel. Sadly, kneeling on this board, my arse is facing the North Downs, from whence the weather cometh. #soggybottomboys #manofconstantsorrow
I’m always surprised – in the most pleasant way – by the strong scent of the skimmia flowers in March. Quite an arresting experience as I inspect the borders for signs of growth from the herbaceous perennials, ever grateful for the year-round work of the evergreens.
Both astonishment and delight arose from the discovery that, this year, the snails haven’t got to my wonderful Trilliums, which came from the Garden Sage nursery near Hassocks in East Sussex. You can read more about Ed and Josie’s nursery here.
Finally, I think I’ve cracked the overwintering pelargonium thing – simple if you have good window ledges, a warm space like a conservatory, and good light over winter, all rather lacking in our house, sadly! However, a good peat free compost has really helped this year – I’ve been using SylvaGrow, the only peat free compost recommended by the RHS – and it needs to be one which doesn’t have large chunks of unrotted wood in it, as you want your growing medium to be gently nuturing your plant’s roots over winter, rather than busily doing its own thing with decomposing material. For an even better mix next winter, I’m going to try the same brand with ‘added John Innes’, which essentially means it has an element of soil (loam) incorporated.
The green shoots of recovery, species hybrid Pelargonium 'Ardens', taking it at a leisurely pace in a cold greenhouse, which isn't its favourite place to be honest. I loves my pellies, and this is a stunner with flame red flowers on long stems. Though admittedly, the foliage is a bit boring, unusually for a pellie. More of its relatives on their way here from the splendid @fibrex_nurseries
The clocks went forward, and the days have lengthened, bringing a greater intensity of light. My tulips are on the brink of opening.
It’s time to get into the prairie planting, trim the grasses and cut down all the seed heads we left for the birds over the winter. But first, we need to get to it over the lawn, which is growing with gusto.
How was March in your garden? Let me know on twitter, or in the comments below.