a little progress

we have had some dry days over the last couple of weeks which has been very nice, the first week was very, very windy, from the east so as the fruit and berry garden is on the westside and lower down than the front garden it has some shelter from the east winds, they were very cold winds, so I decided to wrap up warm and start to tackle some of the weeds and grass, I started with the gooseberry bed, half done,
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this was where I started last year and it was so wet and heavy and I felt so depressed I burst into tears and went back in the house, this year was better, the drying winds and a few days with very little rain, meant the top layer of moss had dried a bit making it much easier to remove, the ground is so wet though it really needs several months drought to get it back to normal and it is so cold the soil, they say wet soil takes longer to warm up, with wet soil and low temperatures it’s never going to warm up,
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one bed done, I am pleased with the way the gooseberries have recovered after the fungal attack 2 years ago, hopefully there will be some gooseberries this year,
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the last surviving flowering currant, there was a hedge of them but they too were affected by the fungus all being part of the same family,
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the next day as I had found walking around there so hard and my back was killing me I did some path strimming, the daffodils can breathe …………..
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last week, Monday was awful, strong winds and rain, Tuesday was better, much calmer and drier, so plant moving, Friday I made a start on weeding the dogwood border and dug up 2 that I wanted to move, they were too heavy for me to lift so I had to drag the large root balls to their new home, I then lavished tlc on them so I hope they will forgive me,

some parts of the woodland edge are pleasing me at the moment, I have been trying to tackle the grass problem here and last autumn found a good bulb nursery online that will deliver to the islands at a reasonable cost, in this photo with the daffodils are aquiligias I grew from saved seed last year, to the left are white foxglove from a free packet of seed on a magazine, behind are erythroniums I bought from the online bulb nursery, I couldn’t believe what fat juicy rhizomes they were, more proof that failed plants are more often due to bad bulbs/seeds than the gardeners abilities or garden environment, the aucba is so leggy, I was wondering if I could prune it so looked in my trusty pruning book and yes, but one third a year for 3 years, and apparently they do tend to go bare at the bottom,
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the erythroniums are teasing me they have been in bud for what seems an age,
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I’m pleased to see the red campion has come back for a second year, I had read it will grow well under trees,
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I tidied it up, I am surprised there are no foxglove seedlings so I have left the seedheads laying down in case there is still some seed, to stop the grass I’m going to plant some aquilegias in between the daffs, I’ve got so many aquilegias still in pots needing homes,
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at last I managed to get a photo of A. blanda that captures the lovely blue,
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and I am thrilled to see not one, or two but three spathes on my skunk cabbage, like the pines it always reminds me of time spent in B.C. and Emily Carr’s writing,
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just a few this and that photos from around the garden, some mornings it is very wet looking and I had wondered if it was a heavy dew or over night rain, the later I think!
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the 2 clumps of creeping comfrey in the phormium bed are from the same plant, yet have different colour flowers, I am now thinking the blue clump is from a seed of the mother plant the white being the mother, I know comfrey changes colour but I’ve been watching these and they are 2 different plants,
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a blue I have been enjoying are my first muscari, planted last autumn, they are spaced as that was what the direction said but I think I could have put them closer,
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I love seeing dapple sun in the pinetum, bluebells seem to be the only plant I can get growing there, these are white flowering, I have both English and Spanish, they all originate from a large clump I brought back from my parents garden, I am thinking of moving all bluebells under the pines,
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from the edge of the pines looking east across the tweenie to the damp meadow, you would be able to see daffodils all the way if I got the fennel and tansy cut down, in the foreground is the crab apple I followed last year in the tree following meme, something that it has started is I found myself looking at it to see if any pruning was needed, and there was one small crossing branch, so easy to snip off at this stage, I wish I had known more about pruning when I first started here, better late than never, as they say,
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hmm, white wallflower with white narcissi was the plan, can you see the nursery’s mistake!
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the white primmies are white, I think it’s beautiful, really pleased, Polyanthus ‘Snow white’ are planted in the jungle front bed across the path from P.Drumcliff in the middle bed,
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today it has turned very cold, we have winds gusting 40-50mph and some of the rain came as snow, didn’t settle but is cold!! temperatures dropping below freezing with wind chill, no gardening,

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©Copyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

GBBD ~ April is nearly daffodil

as this is my second year joining in bloom day, out of curiosity I took at last April’s post and booms were so much further along, which emphasizes the colder weather we have had this winter, at the rate the daffodils and narcissus are growing I think it will be another year with narcissi still blooming in June,
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the little bed by the side porch, the tall daffodil is one of the lost tête à tête, it is tall because it had dropped down in the soil when I was digging out the narrow border across the path where I have now planted a beech hedge, you can hardly see them but there are Scilla sibirica Siberian squill in bud, last year they were in bloom,
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a bit further along across the path to the wilderness, which is looking less wilderness like at last, Primula elatior subsp. pallasii is larger than the native oxlip and blooms earlier, the oxlips are not in bloom yet,
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and along the privet hedge the large clumps of daffodils are just starting to bloom, this is why I keep having unplanted bulbs at the end of the year, I have been digging up the clumps as they are grossly over crowed, if any one would like some sent in the summer in exchange for anything you may have extras of please say,
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back across the path to the middle bed, Muscari armeniacum with Euphorbia ‘Purpurea’ behind, I know these muscari are in a pot but there are some in this bed, just that these didn’t get planted, they will be when they have finished blooming,
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Primula vulgaris ‘Drumcliff’ I bought a plant last year and it bloomed very well, when it finished I dug it up and re-planted each rosette, 7, look how well they have bulked up again, I’m not going to divide these, I’m going to let them continue to expand, I am going to leave the four in the foreground where they are and move the three at the back along the border and re-plant as a group, they need something among them but I’ve not come across anything that sparks yet,
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Erica carnea ‘Golden starlet’ is still blooming and Erica erigena ‘Brightness’ is just starting to bloom, you can’t see it but Margaret Porter has a few blooms, Saxifraga ‘Golden falls’ is covered in buds, this little group is at the top end of the jungle garden, seen from the living room window, although I am showing for blooms in this post, however with the Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Carberry gold’ this is a lovely foliage area giving a lovely show 24/7 365(6) days a year, the gap in the middle front is where I removed a golden starlet and I’ve planted one of the seedling Carex frosted curls which I think will offer contrasting foliage,
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Erica x darleyensis ‘Margaret Porter’ in bloom, I bought 3 plugs autumn 2014 so this is her second year, I’m looking forward to when she gets larger and makes herself know,
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golden scarlet again, this erica has propagated well and it gives such a lovely light, bright green foliage all year the late winter flowers being a bonus, it has been flowering since February, last autumn I planted Chionodoxa forbesii in groups in the alder terrace bed, I’m very happy with how the alder bed has come on since I finally got it planted how I had intended,
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Primula denticulata is flowering in many parts of the garden,
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daffodil and narcissi, I didn’t plan to group them like this, it is the result of digging up clumps then panic planting in the autumn, originally I didn’t plant anything so close to the alders as I want to be able to weed under and do any pruning needed, then I realised in autumn/winter when I want to do the work the bulbs are tucked up under the ground, also a bonus is that in between these bulbs beautiful wild orchids come up and bloom in summer, I don’t know which native orchid they are,
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the double daffodils in the long alder garden border are just starting to open,
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this is the nice part of the alder garden, I wish I could get the rest of it done, I am very pleased with how it has developed and can see what can be achieved when the grass is gone,
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sometimes there is a plant stall in Stornoway in summer and last summer I bought this saxifraga, the seller didn’t have any more information, if anyone knows (thinks they know) the name please say, it, as you can see, is covered in buds,
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Euphorbia ‘Martinii’ is standing tall, I showed just one bloom last month as the frost had made it look like a weeping plant, 2 of the cuttings I took are flowering as well, it was a good purchase last year,
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Symphytum grandiflorum. Creeping comfrey has been flowering for some weeks, too cold for most pollinators though,
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I know they are not in bloom yet but there is a lot of promise in the wallflowers I bought last autumn,
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looking across the phormium bed to the daffodils on the slope down to the birches (not the one I am following), I had visions of this slope being covered in daffodils but, then what! so I have been thinking, wondering how to plant it, any ideas? with or without the daffs,
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the narcissi along the species rose border are just starting to open, last years April bloom day they were in full swing,
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there are some blooms over near the trees but I am not going there as I feel if I want birds to nest in the boxes I need to leave them alone,

thanks to Carol for hosting garden bloggers bloom day, please follow this link to Carols blog to see what is blooming around the world,

I’m glad I looked at my post for last April, it is interesting seeing the difference, I am going to do it each month now I am posting for the second year,

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©Copyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

tree following ~ Betula pubescens ~ April

when we had a couple of warmer days last month I started putting down the heather mulch on top of cardboard, I hope it suppresses the grass, I didn’t get as far as the birch I am following, I get a tad confused with the information about mulching, it seems so contradictory, mulch in spring to suppress weeds, then, don’t mulch when the ground is cold, well in spring the ground is cold! duh!! so that’s why I did it late afternoon on the warmer days, I know the ground was not warmed up but the surface was a bit warmer, no change this month,
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I thought the reddish brown bare twigs look nice against the blue sky, I was surprised when I really took notice of the height that it must be over 7 feet now,
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and if we drop down to the ground there are some primroses growing,
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now you may look at this and think ‘there isn’t much grass there’ haha, there is a massive network of roots, all I’ve done is pull the top off, when those roots get going it can grow 3 feet in a season and it doesn’t flower nicely, it flops over into a suffocating blanket, I have done a lot of reading about ‘grass’ and these grasses that are fast growing and don’t flower have developed/been developed for grazing animals, to keep them fed,

I thought I give the brave hawthorn growing between the birches a moment as it has started to put on leaf,
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I planted 2 hawthorn between each birch, the idea being that the birches would grow up as haha tall trees, instead of the shrubs they, and the hawthorns would make a hedge with the trees growing through, according to the books I read 14 years ago it should have worked beautifully and I’d have a wonderful native hedge there now,

I’ve been meaning to take a photo of last years lodge pole pine I followed, just a reminder, the pines are the workhorses of my garden, they protect many other plants, I followed one of the smaller ones because we had had a storm in January 2015 with gusting winds reaching 130mph, this photo is from February 2015, you can just see some of the needles browning with windburn,

February 2015

February 2015

following the tree I showed how over the months more and more needles turned brown and eventually fell off, conifers don’t show wind burn instantly like deciduous trees, it develops over many months, this is a photo I took Thursday of the tree and you can now see just how much damage the Jan 2015 storm did, the tree still lives and grows like the ones behind it but the bare branches will never re green,

April 2016

April 2016

thanks to Pat for hosting tree following, follow the link to Pat’s blog to see more tree following posts,

I’ve started a new thing with tree buying, last year the shop in town had some conifers quite cheap, Compressa ‘Wilma’ and ‘Goldcrest’, I already have one of each in the garden and they are standing up to the winds quite well, I have not got the area I want to plant the new additions in ready yet, so I potted them on and left them outside, they have done well, I hope to plant them in a month or two if not I shall check them and pot them on if necessary, this started me long term planning, and this winter I have found a tree nursery online that sells mainly native trees, I ordered some small ones, they were good trees with a good strong root, I’ve put them in pots to be planted out when larger and stronger, I’ve just ordered some more, I feel/think they will have a better chance if planted out when bigger and also used to the environment, i.e. wind and wet, on reflection I think some of my early trees failed because they were too exposed too small,

plant a tree for future generations x  

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©Copyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.