Friday 25th & Saturday 26th February 2022 – Here Comes the Sun

A weekend of glorious sunshine made for two long solid days of gardening and I am beginning to feel more like myself again thanks to it (albeit a little sore and achy). The Under-Gardener was also glad of the opportunity for a little outdoor inspection and supervision. I found myself musing on the importance of observation in the garden – knowledge and skill can be cribbed from the internet but that won’t help you if you aren’t able to see and to notice signs and changes. No amount of connectivity can replace your own senses. Thankfully.

Look at that blue sky! These clematis armandii buds will burst soon and in just a few years the pergola should be swathed in it.
The Under-Gardener notes that we are finally getting somewhere with the crocuses, mainly by planting in such huge numbers that even the vandal squirrels cannot uproot them all. The Under-Gardener may now crush them by break-dancing on them on his back, which he especially enjoys doing in the sunshine. Idiot.
A lovely strong display is imminent from these daffs. They make it incredibly difficult to get the net on the fruitcage but I don’t care. I’ll cut some for the house soon, and will lift and divide these clumps in the Autumn, as they can clearly take it.
Brian (or perhaps Brianna) the water-snail is huge. I suppose they have no natural predators, really.
Soggy Bottom, half way through a tidy up. We have transformed an ugly concrete hole into a pleasing damp shade garden, teeming with life of all sorts – beetles, pond-life, worms, millipedes and centipedes, fungi… I’m hopeful that the frogs return to breed this year. A tide mark over everything indicated this area had flooded at leat once this Winter. The plus side to this is that nutrient-rich stream silt has washed over everything – everything seems quite happy, anyway. ‘Right plant, right place’ really helps. This year I’ll work to plant up that empty space on the left… it’s got a few herbaceous things in it already but I want to add in one or two more big specimen plants for structure.
Here’s how Soggy Bottom looked when we moved in in 2016 (when I was much slimmer!). The previous owner dug a sort of a swimming pool, by hand. It must have been one hell of a job. It had long since ceased to be watertight, so keeping it as a pool really wasn’t a viable option – not without huge expense, anyway… also not very practical. It would take days to fill (indeed, drawing so much from mains water in one hit is probably illegal) and it would quickly turn into a stagnant soup. There’s a stream running behind so treating with chemicals is not an option. Damp shade garden seemed the obvious choice, but maybe it’s just me with a mind that works like that!
The mahonia I struck from a rather pitiful cutting is showing signs of new growth, despite the very soggy conditions here in Soggy Bottom. Clearly leaning into next-door’s hedge to take stealth cuttings continues to pay dividends.
Here, signs that the ruinously expensive plugs of candelabra primula I bought last year have survived and quite possibly self-seeded too. The conditions in Soggy Bottom are ideal for them, so if the slugs leave them alone we could have a really stunning display down here. I’m excited to see how they do this Spring. that mos is nice too, isn’t it? I love moss.
The Under-Gardener assures me this pond water is a far superior beverage to the fresh water provided in the house. The orange ball stays floating in there to bob about and help to stop ice forming (it doesn’t stop it completely, but it helps a little).

I repaired these makeshift trellises (above in these two big pots on the patio, and tied in the climbers on them, both of them having taken a real battering in the recent storms. I tidied up the patio pots and fed a few things with slow release fertiliser. I neglect my pots terribly and they look so much happier when given a bit of love. Last year I fed late in the year and was astonished how they perked up, so this year I’m determined to look after them properly from the get-go. The seeds sown in the cold frame on New Year’s Day (below) are shoeing mixed results – some of the onions have succeeded but it’s not an amazing success rate and the red Italian variety have failed altogether – not really all that surprising, I should have thought that any Italian veg would dislike the English Winter climate really! Broad beans doing well though, these can be planted out when they’re just a bit bigger. Starting them in pots definitely helps a little in the battle against mouse, vole and mollusc. Mmmmmm baby broad bean pasta… yum.

This lobelia in these two pots is meant to be an annual, but it clearly didn’t get the memo and is even trying to keep flowering. I’m going to see what it ends up doing… if nothing else I might be able to save seed from it.
The black metal gnome gang have been in the shed for a service and a paint job – gnome care, if you will (sorry). I think they look best all hanging out together in a group rather than dotted around the garden individually, so they’ve taken up residence on the patio. I suspect their ranks may swell further through the course of the year, while my back’s turned.

Published by Notes from the Under-Gardener

Keen amateur gardener, tending a large home garden growing flowers, fruit and veg, ably supported by husband and dog.

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