Quick peek in my Potting shed. These flowers have been such a joy. The scent is perhaps too strong for the house, but perfect for the potting shed. Drowns out the aroma of compost and tractor fuel. I shall be planting Paperwhites again in October for Christmas presents, and January/ February for spring cheer.
Finola. So graceful. Haven’t the tulips been wonderful this year. Such a joy at the end of a long, cold dark winter.
I love the creamy buds and green feathering on this double late, or peony-flowered tulip. We are all growing this variety in place of Angelique. Finola seems to be a stronger tulip. Grows to 50cm high and flowers in April and May. I’ve planted mine in a sea of blue forget-me-nots. Brunnera would be a good alternative if you are worried about the forget-me-nots seeding about. Good quality tulips and bulbs of all kinds are available from Bloms Bulbs and Peter Nyssen.
What tulips are you enjoying the most at the moment?
THE DECKCHAIR GARDENER.
Anne Wareham (Michael O’Mara Books Ltd, £8.99)
In my little potting shed there is a kettle, toaster, radio- and a small bookcase. Between potting and sowing, I dip into the latest books, all with a gardening theme.
So, picture the scene, I’m sitting here, listening to a storm outside. The overhanging beech tree branches are beating a tune on the roof, and a there’s a howling wind which sounds like the sea. It would be easy to imagine the potting shed perched on a cliff edge. Cold, driving sleet is thrashing the daffodils. There’s nothing more dispiriting than seeing spring flowers blown horizontal.
I’m feeling unusually glum, when our cheery postman (wearing shorts, of course) appears at the potting shed door. He’s in search of a hot cup of tea, and while he dips into the potting shed biscuit tin, I open the day’s post. And what I find is instant sunshine! Anne Wareham’s book gets us laughing from the very first page. The postman declares the Deckchair Gardener is the first gardening book ever written especially for him! I can still hear him laughing as he goes on his way. I, meanwhile, am happily ensconced with my new book for the rest of the day.
Subtitled, An Improper Gardening Manual, Anne’s book sets out to suggest 101 “cunning stratagems” for gardening avoidance, and sensible advice on your realistic chances of getting away with it. I love gardening, but I’m always after short cuts and tips, and Anne has many good ideas for basically giving yourself the day off to enjoy the garden you’ve created.
I loathe books that set out “five jobs to do today.” My heart sinks, as I’m set to fail and get behind. And there’s nothing worse than feeling the garden is getting away from you. But Anne delightfully lists “What Not to Do in Your Garden,” for spring, summer, autumn and winter. I could quite honestly kiss her.
One thing I won’t have to do now is dig the garden. Anne quotes advice from organic vegetable expert Charles Dowding on making compost, no-dig gardens and mulching. In fact mulching seems to feature quite regularly through the book as the answer to most problems. Also, I won’t sow lettuce seed every few weeks to keep the harvest coming. I’ll just pick off the outside leaves. The lettuce will apparently just keep growing through the summer. The secret is to pick, not cut the leaves, it seems.
It’s hard not to laugh at some of Anne’s mad ideas, but her book makes you think. Have I just been doing things the same way for years and years, when there’s a better tactic? I know I am guilty of doing daft things like growing vegetables I don’t particular like just because they are supposed to be in a veg garden in the summer.
I am still chuckling over her tips and witty observations. And I love the gnome pictures drawn by Kate Charlesworth. So I shall be taking Anne’s advice to “accept the challenge and be brave.”
Anne describes herself as a garden maker – at Veddw, an editor of thinkingardens.co.uk and on twitter, @AnneWareham, as “trouble.” The Deckchair Gardener is available from Michael O’Mara Books @OMaraBooks, and also as an e-book. It would make a perfect Easter present for anyone looking to put the word “fun” back into gardening.
Tiny flowers on trees grown mainly for their leaves. Such a spring surprise, and a treat. This one is Crimson King, Acer Platanoides. Also known as the Norwegian maple. Photo taken at Burghley House near Stamford.
Everything in my garden has suddenly gone whoosh! I’m running round the plot at breakfast, lunch and tea break – finding flowers that I’m certain were not there earlier in the day. Plants just seem to pop up overnight.
My favourite tulip, Burgundy, was only in bud for a day or two. Then by lunchtime, the flower was wide open. When the wind blows, they look like ribbons of silk scarves, dancing in the breeze. Lily-flower tulips have a certain elegance and movement. Much better than their stiff, cottage cousins, I think.
Hellebores make perfect ground cover in fading shades of purple and pink. As a contrast there’s tiny forget-me-nots in the borders, and the lawn is edged with a frill of scented wild violets. Blue and cerise pink make very happy companions.
Hasn’t it been a fabulous year for blossom. Cold temperatures in January, followed by sunny, mild days in March, mean we’ve had the best year for cherries and magnolias for a long time. My planting is the wild cherry Prunus Avium. Simply beautiful- all year round.
Pieris Flaming Silver is planted in an enormous pot. It wouldn’t like my heavy clay soil, so I cheat with containers and ericaceous compost. It’s beautiful all year round with white heather, bell-like flowers and red new growth.
My favourite narcissi is white Pheasant’s Eye. Reliably comes back every year, and naturalises in borders and under trees.
White, highly-scented Narcissi Geranium is another glorious treat. My children used to call it the poached egg flower.
Brightening up a dark corner- Devon Red. The petals look sugar-coated in sunshine. A hardy flower which copes with hail and high winds in my garden.
Narcissus Ice Follies, viewed from the summerhouse, replace the snowdrops and wild anemones. Cowparsley will soon compete with native bluebells. It’s an ever changing scene.
I love these cheerful jonquils on the potting shed windowsill. A perfect match for forget-me-nots, and just the right size for jam jar flowers. Trees by the pond show a reflection in the window. And the last of the paperwhites, hyacinths and cyclemen are pressing at the glass.
And I’ve got company again! Opposite the garden gate are these beauties, let out onto grass for the first time this year. They look on incredulous as I dig and weed.
What sights do you love to see in your garden in April? Do get in touch and let me know. Thanks to Helen for hosting this end of the month view. Click on the highlighted words for more information. They are not advertising or affiliate links.