The Garden Returns

After yet another lengthy period away from my blog (some of it just because of winter… some of it because of sheer laziness) the Garrett Garden returns. With a promise to do a monthly update. Once a month, looking back at the previous month seems manageable. I’ve even put it in my calendar. I find if I commit to something in my calendar it’s less likely to make me stress out and run in the opposite direction. The act of putting an entry in my calendar subconsciously tells me I’m making time for this thing, that it’s a thing I should do. So early on the first Sunday of each month I’ll do an update. Fortuitously I have things for today’s entry. The garden is starting slowly this year and when I look back at previous years the garden was much more colourful than it is right now. There is also a looming snow event. Forecasters have been talking about the “sudden stratospheric warming” for weeks now but it looks like it might actually be on the way. Hopefully, here in the North West of England we’ll avoid a lot of it – we rarely have massive amounts of snow but the temperatures are definitely going in a downwards direction right now.

So what is growing out there right now? The hellebores are past their best but they were beautiful back in January. The crocus are in flower, lots of delicate lilacs and yellows in between their dainty leaves. The daffodils have either decided to have a long lie in or the over wintered bulbs have died in the pots as I only have two or three daffodils right now. There are some very early tulips in flower but the later flowering ones are also making themselves known, stubby little noses pushing through the soil. I went for some very fancy bulbs last Autumn but sadly a lot of the name tags have not survived the winter so I’ll have to wait till they flower before I know which ones are which. I know I selected lots of dark purple and black flowers after the Paul Scherer which were so beautiful last year. Some tags have survived so I know there are some of the Scherer out there, plus Queen Of The Night and the glorious Belicia to look forward to.

One of the euphorbias appears to have succumbed to the cold snap before Christmas (along with three cordylines) but Euphorbia Wulfenii is back looking amazing again.

I left my foxgloves to self seed last year and they have been motoring along since late summer and I have several patches in my raised beds. I’m going to leave them where they chose to grow and plant crops around them, knowing that they will all be over and done by July and I’ll have their space back for second and third succession crops then.

I took the decision not to grow potatoes this year. Last year’s early crops were fine but my main and Christmas crops were hugely disappointing so I’m going to give myself a year off and maybe try again next year. The big success from last year was sweetcorn so the bed that I usually use for my early potatoes has been designated for sweetcorn as it’s the sunniest bed in the garden. While I’ve not finished my official garden plan yet I know generally what I’ll be growing this year – peas, beans, sweetcorn, squash (summer and winter), tomatoes, cucumbers and beetroot. With as many herbs as I can cram in around them. I have a bed that I used for tomatoes last year that was partially planted with nasturtium so I’m hoping they come back again – they make a great black fly deterrent and the bees love the flowers.

I’ve yet to dead-head my hydrangeas and given the weather forecast for the next 10 days I know I’ve made the right decision. I’ve also covered all my over wintered dahlias with straw, just in case. Our garden is surrounded by sycamore trees so the biggest job out there right now while I wait for the weather to change is helicopter eradication duty. Every day. More than once a day. I see these bright green leaves starting to unfurl from the soil and then they get unceremoniously yanked out and binned. Whilst there’s nothing quite like see new life and leaves pushing their way to the surface, I really don’t want to grow a woodland out there so out they must come. The lupins are also back in force, they flowered for the first time last year, after being moved up to a bigger pot. They seem to have enough room so I might just leave them in the same pot and keep my fingers crossed for more flowers this year.

I had some pot grown buddleia which again were a bit of a disappointment last year, not many flowers and not a lot of growth. Given I had a wild buddleia nearly take down the back of the house growing in a crack in the ground, I’d expected more of plants given soil and compost but they let me down. Except when I went to retrieve all my spring bulb pots that I’d stashed at the back of the garden – over half of them had buddleia growing in them! I’ve trimmed them back so as not to overshadow the bulbs but hopefully when the bulbs die back these naturally self seeded plants will take over the job of feeding the bees and the butterflies.

The patio is being jet washed in a few weeks, in preparation for the big job of putting all the plants back into their places for spring. Most of them are strewn around the garden, put up in empty planters or raised beds, or pushed against fences. Soon it will be time for them to put on their best clothes and kick start the spring displays. The primula are nearly ready and the aquilegia are well on their way. I can’t wait! The table top that I upcycled finally disintegrated over the winter to so I’ll need to find a new way to display things. I’ve got some wooden Christmas tree bases but I’ll need something else – time to look for old tables on eBay I think.

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