Blogs \ March 2022

March 2022

17 March 2022

Another strange year, coping with all the restrictions that the Covid pandemic continued to bring with it which were at least eased a bit from the Spring but still saw many of us being careful about where we went and who we mixed with – despite most of us having had all our jabs and boosters. Unfortunately Omicron, a variant, arrived at the end of the year, bring further cautiousness and restrictions.

Our gardens were more important than ever, whether it was our own gardens or gardens to visit. Our 2 charity Open Garden days saw a higher number of visitors than we were expecting – but fortunately we didn’t quite run out of cake!

Also a slightly strange year for the plants; we noticed that many of them were about 2 weeks behind what we would normally expect, and that there was a lot of foliage growth, sometimes to the detriment of the plants ability to produce flowers.

January; A cold start to the year, max 5’C, with frost and fog. Snow was forecast but didn’t arrive but it continued grey and miserable. The weather carried on to the end of the month giving us heavy showers at times, odd glimmers of sunshine and very cold. Slightly warmer for a few days at the end of the month. Too cold and damp to make gardening a pleasure for most of the month!

Initially nothing flowering but the evergreen structure keeps the garden interesting. Then the first flowers of the year – a few odd white camellia blooms in the lower garden, snowdrops pushing their leaves through the grass and the scent of Sarcococca pervading the garden. By the end of the month there were a few Hellebores in flower, and some of the snowdrops were out. All the leaves were cut off the Hellebores to better show off the flowers and to help prevent disease. Potted on the last of the geranium cuttings.

February; the first week of the month was very cold, -5’C by day and -8’C overnight. We had a few snow showers and one day a centimetre of laying snow. Breezy at times. From then on it became warmer, occasionally showery but up to 10’C………the 20th Feb then saw the temperature rise to 15’C with beautiful sunshine! It then remained relatively warm, sunny and dry with cool nights. Breezy at times.

Snowdrops, Hellebores, Sarcoccoca, a few crocus in flower and Tete a Tete daff leaves showing. Irises and witch hazel out by the end of the month. The soil was too soggy to work on, but pruned the Catalpas and clematis, cut back the grasses, epimedium leaves and old fern fronds. March; weatherwise a very mixed month with temperatures ranging from 5’C to 22’C at the end - (wine o’clock in the garden!) - there was rain, hail, sun, heavy cloud, light cloud, wind, squalls and strong gusts. I think that the only thing that we didn’t get was snow!

More colour in the garden at last, tete a tete’s well out, along with the snowdrops, crocus, chinodoxia, primroses, polyanthus, iris, Mahonia, Daphne, Camellias, Pieris and tulips in pots. The shrub roses, climbing roses and Cornus were pruned, and sadly our Rosa Malvern Hills (rambler) on the pergola had died and was removed. The pots of Agapanthus and Hosta’s all tidied up and split up if necessary. The soil was beginning to dry out at last and become workable so started the weeding and breaking up of the surface of the soil ready for mulching. We dug up and divided clumps of snowdrops replanting some in the front lawn. The lawns had their first mow of the year, and were also scarified.

April; A chilly month but fairly dry. The Easter weekend (2 nd -5 th ) was cool and breezy but dry, with Sunday feeling warmer in the sun – up to 14’C, but then Monday very cold with a few flakes of snow! There were some early morning snow showers on the 12 th . The temperature remained below average until warming up a bit at the end of the month.

Sadly a hard frost in the middle of the month caught the magnolias and camellias, so a lot of brown blooms. Brunnera, late daffs, tulips, grape hyacinths flowering well and the blossom out on the Damson and Victoria Plum. Weeding, tidying up pots and replanting if necessary, and starting potting/repotting plants that we would sell on our charity day. Complete cleared out and replanted the alpine sinks. Saw the first lily beetle on the 24 th !!!

May; Initially continuing warm, then becoming wet, windy and cooler, then continuing cool, showery and breezy until almost the end of the month. Began to wonder at times were the sun had gone having only seen glimpses of it for the greater part of the month!

The Rhododendrons and Azaleas flowered well, having enjoyed the early wet weather, enabling the buds to fatten up for a good show. Labium’s and Pulmonarias (both invaluable for ground cover) did well, along with Choisya’s, Libertia’s, Geums and Iris putting on a good show. The Clematis montanas flowered well, clothing the pergolas in lots of pink and white blooms. Re-potted and split most of the canna’s, threw a few old ones that hadn’t been doing so well away (chopped up and added to the compost heap). Have some newer varieties of canna (Canna Canova) which are not so tall and flower prolifically over a long period of time. The hanging baskets were planted and hung up, and most of the pots placed in their display positions. We have grown Cucumber Mini Star (3 plant) for the first time and were amazed to have 8 fruits ready for eating by the end of the month – all grown outdoors! We noted that the blue tits have fledged.

June; The month started warm (up to 25’C) and dry, with warm nights and just a few showers of rain. After a few hot days (up to 29’C) mid-month we had a months’ worth of rain in one day, (which the roses definitely didn’t like), accompanied by a few rumbles of thunder. Thereafter it turned dry and warm again.

Plenty of plants flowering now, including Aquilegia, Thalictrum, Alliums, Heuchera, Roses, Salvia, Philadelphus, Geraniums, Sea Holly and Hosta’s, so all looking good for the first Open Garden day on 27 th . In preparation for the Open Garden, the hedges were all trimmed (there were no nesting birds, so OK to cut them), weeded all borders, dead headed, grass cut and edges trimmed. For the first time ever in the garden I saw a Purple Hairstreak butterfly. We have had a lot of ‘June drop’ from the apples and pears so not anticipating a good crop.

July; A very mixed month of weather, warm and dry at times, cool and wet at others. A few hours of heavy rain battered the roses again, there was a hot dry spell in the third week – up to 29’C, then returning to wet and windy again at the end of the month.

The salvias were particularly good, we now have a good few varieties and find they do well both in the borders and it pots. Lilies, Hemerocallis, Campanula, Agapanthus, Perovskia and bedding plants and Cannas now in flower, providing a nice lot of colour. Tasks around the garden are mainly weeding, mowing and deadheading. Also pruned the water shoots on the Apples and Pears. Our second Open Garden day was on 4 th July, and enjoyed by all our visitors.

August; Another month of mixed unsettled weather, mostly warm with a couple of cooler spells. A reasonable amount of sunshine with several overcast and showery days, and some heavier rain at the end of the month.

The canna’s flowered well as did the agapanthus and lilies, giving a more exotic feel to the terrace area. Roses, phlox and verbena all adding to the colour with the Hosta’s looking very green and lush, and also flowering well. The rain at the end of the month battered the heavy foliage and taller flowers down, leaving them looking a bit sad! Quite a lot of fruit dropped off the apple and pear trees and the Victoria plum has suffered with brown rot.

September; The mixed and unsettled theme to the weather continued through the month, with a couple of warm dry spells up to 30’C. then a definitely autumnal feel at the end of the month. Despite the wide variations in temperature, this September was apparently the warmest on record! The flowers continued to put on a good show with Canna’s, roses, verbena, crocosmia, echinacea etc all doing well. The hanging baskets, mostly planted up with geraniums/pelargoniums looking really full and colourful. We had a very good crop of damsons, and a reasonable crop of Victoria plums. October; The month started off dry and warm – up to 21’C and continued to be above the seasonal average until nearer the end of the month when it turned slightly cooler but still mild. It was mainly dry with a couple of heavy showers in the last week.

The nerines were beautiful, a real hit of sugar pink – we only grow these in pots. The Salvias continues to flower their socks off, the Kaffir lilies came into flower and the Callicarpa berries began to become purple, the holly berries also began turning red – possibly a bit earlier than usual. We pruned and thinned out the Rhodi’s in the back garden, reducing their height, there will probably be fewer flowers on them next year. Unfortunately the jackdaws took most of the pears all in one day – how is it they seem to know exactly when to come and feast on them? I think they left us about 4. All tender plants now taken under cover, lots of tidying up and cutting back of spent herbaceous perennials.

November; We had the first two frosty Autumn mornings, bit of a shock! But still mild by day, up to 15’C, some sun and some showers. At the very end of the month we had a very light sprinkle of snow, and it really turned cold.

Most of the colour in the garden from the Viola’s and polyanthus in pots, the Sarcococca now in flower giving us wafts of beautiful perfume when we walk past. Lot of general tidying up and putting the garden to bed for the winter this months and of course, raking up leaves from the mature oak and ash trees, a bonus this year was that there were very few acorns. At the very end of the months it was too cold for me to be gardening.

December; continuing cold ‘til mid-month when it became slightly milder, and was also fairly mid over the Christmas period, then a grey mild and soggy end to the year. Most of garden colour still from Viola’s and polyanthus in pots, as well as the callicarpa and holly berries. Mahonia beginning to flower. We can just see the tips of the Tete a Tete and snowdrop leave beginning to show – very welcome sign of Spring and the year to come. At last, all the leaves seem to be down and raked up.

The garden is now relatively tidy and put to bed. There is good structure in the garden from the pergolas and paths, but the plants and shrubs give it interest even when there isn’t much colour.