Spring 2014 has sprung

Spring has arrived, and so has the time to choose what’s going to be grown in the garden in 2014.

It’s that time again – where I need to pick the plants for 2014.

Daffodils in Cambridge
Daffodils in Cambridge

I’m perhaps a little behind, in comparison to previous years, but with what has been quite a catastrophic (weather wise) start to the year, what with all the rain and flooding here in England, it’s encouraging to start seeing some bright sunshine.

The Crocuses came and went with little display. The Tulip ‘Negrita’ are now reaching up and I look forward to see their crimson blooms emerge. The Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ are also making progress.

Despite the sunshine, it’s still cold. Last night it reached low enough to give me a chilly start at -2C and a frozen windscreen.

Still, the rest of the day did bring sunshine, and whilst in Cambridge I managed to take the snap above of some Daffodils.

Spring is here. Now, where did I put those seeds….

Daylilies and brazen snails

The Daylilies are blooming marvellous at the moment, but the snails continue their brazen crimewave.

The Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ have opened in sync with the arrival of blazing sunshine.

Daylily Hemerocallis Bonanza
The Dayliliy ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ are having their best year…

Creating a hedge-like row of gold and yellow flowers, the lilies, which open and close with the sunlight, and wither after 2 days, are currently brightening up the garden. This is the best year for these – only managing about 3 flowers last year, this year there must be 10 times that.
The ample heavy rain and then warm conditions, combined with my digging and composting around their roots, will no doubt have led to this massive increase in blooms.

Snails continue their assault

Meanwhile, the snails are completely brazen this year – with me often discovering them unashamedly clinging to the tops of the 6 foot tall bamboo wigwam canes and in plain sight!

French Bean 'Blue Lake', post-Snail assault
… but so are the snails, which have eaten the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ plants.

The snails have been their worst this year – they have almost killed off the Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ plants – eating them through the stems low-down, they’ve almost eaten all of the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ (by climbing the wigwams and using nearby plants to get above the snail pellets and then down on to the beans), and they’ve been tackling the Pepper ‘Sweet Frigitello’ too.

No amount of evening ‘meet and greet’ or pellets seems to be stopping their organised crimewave that’s killing all food producing plants in the garden.

The uncurling Fern and the countdown starts

It’s countdown time in the garden with only days to go until a fanfare erupts. Meanwhile in the shady corner, lush green leaves are uncurling.

So, the countdown begins to a great occasion – a visual feast. No, I’m not talking about the olympics – it’s a great big display from the daylilies.

This year the Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ plants have thrived – well watered and with warm weather earlier on in the year, their lush leaves have reached high – feeding their roots. This is now set to pay off with many stems reaching above the leaves, each carrying multiple flower heads that will burst with orange.

Daylily 'Hemerocallis Bonanza' and Hydrangea
The Daylily ‘hedge’ (centre) is preparing for a fanfare of orange flowers.

As their name suggests, Daylilies open in the early morning, and close in the afternoon – but their fanfare is short lived with most varieties seeing their flowers withering by the second evening. These really are short-lived, and that’s why catching them on bloom together is going to be a delight.

Daylily
The Daylily was much smaller and with fewer flowers in 2011.

In early spring I dug around the Daylilies, loosening what had been quite compact  poor soil and emptying out some of last year’s left over compost and old compost from pots. It must have been this and the following weather that has brought them on.

The uncurling fronds of a lush green fern.
The Fern’s lush-green fronds uncurl in the shadier part of the garden.

Up towards the back of the garden, there’s another plant that’s reaching upwards with a lush green stem – the Fern, which I’ve had in the same pot for about 12 years, is busy uncurling some new fonds. It’s gentle green foliage thriving in the warmth but shaded corner. Sadly this lost it’s label many years ago (if you’ve any ideas – leave a message below!) having followed me through several house moves, but it’s never looked better.

The Magical Powers of April Showers

After some heavy April showers, the garden has leapt forwards with lush growth and flowers, but there’s still plenty more seeds to sow… including some for next year’s garden!

There’s a drought on at the moment but whilst I do live in the dry of East Anglia, my water provider (Cambridge Water Company) has not imposed a hosepipe ban. This has been a hot topic of conversation here on local radio and television but it wouldn’t really affect my garden as it is small enough to cope with lots of watering cans and buckets when it comes to it.

Wallflower 'Ruby Gem' about to bloom.
The Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ were planted out last year and are now starting to flower.

Fortunately though we did see a few days of refreshing rain (albeit typically and neatly fitted into a bank holiday/Easter weekend!) and then a few days of sunshine. This has resulted in a surge of lush green growth from things like the Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ plants that I planted out last year which are just starting to flower, the hardy Welsh Onion ‘Allium Fistulosum’ and Caraway ‘Carum Carvi’ herbs are also lush green,  and those pretty Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ have thrown-up lots of leaves.

The Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’ is on flower, and with it a delicate scent wafts closely to it’s branches. I’ve just captured a few photos of a large bee collecting pollen from the bright yellow flowers.

Bee and the Broom
A bee on a mission as it collects pollen from this flowering Broom ‘Cytisus Scoparius’.

With this warmer and rainy weather around, I’ve started putting the Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ outside so that they can begin adjusting to the different environment. I’m bringing them inside at night as we’re still seeing low temperatures. Leaving them out all night might be too much of a shock for them. They were lucky to receive rain on their first day outside too!

The Chives and Parsley ‘Moss Curled’ that I sowed a month ago are now at the pricking-out stage. I also planted some Coriander on 1st April, to make up the third pot of the BBC Gardeners’ World herb kit. Some of these have germinated too but will need a couple more weeks before they will be potted on.

Two Pepper (Sweet) 'Friggitello' plants grown from seed.
The Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants are growing well.

Those two Pepper (Sweet) ‘Friggitello’ plants that I grew from seeds given to me by team CBM, are now several inches high, one of them requires a support cane. I’m sure it won’t be many weeks until they’ll need potting on again before finally going outside to hopefully produce their fruit in July-October time.

Yet to sow in april…

  • Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ – my third sowing of this variety. They were plentiful in year 1, but poor in year 2 – having suffered from mildew.
  • Night Scented Stock ‘Matthiola Bicornis’ – This will be my first sowing of these, and they are sown directly outside.
  • Dill – I’ve missed not having Dill around for cooking – the leaves and seeds can be used for flavouring dishes, and in pickling, and can be used to aid digestion.
  • Delphinium ‘Pacific Giants Mixed’ – I’ve always liked the towering spires of Delphiniums (like the Foxgloves), so as with the Foxgloves,  I shall sow some of these now for flowering in next year’s garden.

A dash of colour in the snow

Snow and severely low temperatures have come as a shock to some plants, whilst others carry on regardless.

Heavy snow and very low temperatures have struck the garden in the last few days. The Wallflower ‘Ruby Gem’ plants that I planted out recently took a real battering from the severely low temperatures, and my Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ (that i’d grown from seed) have met with a real shock too.

Blue Polyanthus flowers peek out from the snow.
The blue of the Polyanthus peeks out from the snow.

Despite these wintery conditions, there have been some flashes of colour – the blue Polyanthuses have been peeping out, and the Crocus ‘Giant Ruby’ bulbs are reaching upwards with their lush green growth out. Other bulbs are also happily growing too, and even the Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’ are beginning to wake up.

How is your garden faring? Is there colour in your borders? Are there plants living far beyond their usual life expectancy? Let me know in the comments below…

Daylily Dose

The Daylillies have finally opened, along with the Sweet Peas and Hydrangea. Meanwhile, one of the Courgette plants is beginning to form tiny courgettes.

When I moved into my house in October 2009, I inherited some clumps of bulb/grass like plants. There’s about three clumps in the garden. Last year they didn’t really do anything and I continued to wonder what they were.

For the last couple of years they have always grown with a big green lush surge of foliage in about March and April, but this year is the first year where they’ve actually bothered to flower for me. Perhaps it was because i dug around the green clumps in March and dug in a little compost?

A yellow daylily on flower.
The Daylily dose of flower greets me when I step out of my house.

I don’t know what variety of Daylily they* are but their blast of golden yellow and tinge of fox red really adds to the garden. It sits in contrast to the black brickwork of my neighbour’s wall and the blue of the Lavender nearby. It works well with the Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ plant that is thriving beside it (this courgette plant, like the other one, is now flowering.. but this one is starting to form tiny courgettes). The other courgette plant had a habit of dropping flowers – but it turns out that this isn’t anything to worry about at all.

Nearby the Hydrangea (again inherited when i moved in) is now starting to open – tiny salmon pink flowers – although it looks like it needs some feed. According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) they prefer moist, well drained, and slightly shady areas. The part of the garden it sits in has a lot of drainage but gets roasted by the sun.

Further up the garden, the first Sweet Pea ‘Cupani’ are flowering. They are an old and fragrant variety but I am yet to notice their reputed aroma – perhaps once they manage to fully scale the canes and bloom en masse, then i’ll be hit properly with the smell.

*UPDATE: Fellow blogger and budding horticulturalist Alex Jobber, reckons they might be Daylily ‘Hemerocallis Bonanza’. Certainly looks very much like them.