Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Shy

Epimedium x warleyense

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A winter garden in spring

My first garden visit of the year was to Dunham Massey, last week. Much was written about the opening of the new winter garden when it first opened just over 12 months ago. Designed by the head gardener there (Damian Harris), Roy Lancaster  advised on its planting.

As it was the middle of March, the winter garden was shrugging off its winter woollies and showing a  glimpse of its bright spring clothes. Beneath the overcoat of deciduous and evergreen structure, the new season’s growth vied for attention.

Some might tire of seeing the bright white stems of Betula utilis var. jacquemontii used to provide winter interest, but it works, although the effect will be much more striking in a few more years time.

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

In spring, the white flowers of Anemone nemerosa pick up the white of the bark. The marbled foliage of the cyclamen has a similar effect.

Wood anemone Betula utilis var. jacquemontii Cyclamen leaves and Betula utilis var. jacquemontii

Again, dogwoods aren’t a novel way of introducing colour into a winter garden, but they’re common for a reason – they do bring colour, and when the sun strikes them, they burn brightly. Unfortunately my photographs don’t do them justice.

Cornus Midwinter Fire

The snowdrops had gone over when I visited but the daffodils that line the curves of the paths guide you through the garden, and their sheer numbers and brightness bring a child-like smile to my face. 

Daffodils hoggin path

Dead flowers and seedheads are kept, to good effect. The flowerheads of hydrangeas (something I dislike when they are their pale, washed out living selves) take on a certain elegance when in sepia tints. Phlomis punctuate the lower-growing spring plants.

Hydrangea head Phlomis

Now is when winter slips away and spring leaps forward like a circus ring master to introduce the ever-increasing number of floral acts vying to take centre stage. To see Dunham Massey at this cross-over of seasons is special, and when the garden has grown into its new clothes a little  more, it will be even more so.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Shiny

Prunus serrula bark

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An advantage of being untidy

Due to weather, work, winter weariness and sheer laziness, I haven’t quite got round to tidying up the dead flowerheads, stems and detritus of the borders in the garden (although I have now made a start by hacking grasses and exposing the soft tentacle-like new growth of the epimediums).

My untidiness (well, I don’t call myself the Inelegant Gardener for nothing) has paid off recently, however. These little beauties have been visiting for the past couple of weeks, feeding on the furry seedheads of the Japanese anemones, and in this case, the cardoons which have seen better days, having survived a winter of extensive frost, not to mention some long-lasting snow.


The goldies have ignored the nyger seed feeder in the back garden, but how much better they look with their feathery seed-moustaches on the untidy plants. Maybe I’ll leave it another week or two until I cut down the dead heads.

Thank you to SomeBeans for taking the photo.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Bark

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GBBD – March 2011: Hellebore Bore

I’ve been selective with this month’s GBBD. I’ve ignored the little daffodils, the still-flowering crocuses, the fragrant Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’. They’re all lovely but I’ve decided to give pride of place to some other jewels.

In previous years I’ve plucked the flowers and upturned them, to better view their unique patterns and exquisite tiaras of anthers. This time, I decided to meet them at their level; and because I don’t have raised beds, I spent a happy half hour or so on my stomach on a wet and muddy lawn. It was worth it. They may shyly hide their beauty, but if you spend a little time in their company, they really come out of their shell.

 IMG_7685 IMG_7690 IMG_7692 IMG_7701 IMG_7702 IMG_7705 IMG_7707 

I couldn’t resist one non-hellebore photo – I wouldn’t want to be too much of a hellebore bore. I recommend you, too, cwtch up close to Anemone blanda – not exotic, but a delight worthy of closer inspection.


Thanks, as always, to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for giving me the impetus to spend a happy half hour in the mud, and for getting me to look closer at the garden every month. Please visit Carol’s blog for many more people joining in with GBBD.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


No, my dear readers, I am not coming out as someone who wears a lot of black, has a fringe that covers half of my face, and a penchant for writing depressive poems about how much I hate the world and the world hates me. I do not like My Chemical Romance.

No, far worse than that. I suffer from Early March Optimism. It strikes, as the name suggests, at the start of Spring. It takes hold of me at the allotment. I survey the ravages of winter ( a few dead kale plants, some happy sprouts, some stunted leeks, and the mothers of all parsnips), and I think “Well, not bad – won’t take long to clear up”. This bit is generally true.

But then I make my mistake, and EMO rears its head. I say to SomeBeans “It really looks like we’ve got on top of the weeds this year – there’s only a few ephemerals about”. Ha.

Whilst some weeds, like hairy bittercress, will carry on growing and seeding through the year whenever it’s warm enough, I always forget that it’s only from mid to late March that the real thugs get going. Hence my EMO moments. I cannot yet see the horsetail, ground elder, couch grass and bind weed thrusting their way to the surface. Ignorance is bliss, at least for another week or two. So allow me my moment of EMO.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Small