End of the month view: April 2011


What a dry time, even here. One water butt is empty; the other is producing sludge and overnight we had a burst pipe in the village which meant no mains water either. I should be able to water this evening, though. Which is just as well; tomorrow is going to be the first big planting day.

And the big clearing-out-the-greenhouse-yet-again day:

I gave in and painted on the greenhouse shading yesterday, after I had to stop potting up the tomatoes because I was beginning to develop heatstroke. Today it’s the turn of howlinggalestroke; it looks beautiful, but there’s a mean and savage wind. We’ve all been lulled into a false sense of security, and some of my beans are looking battered. This often happens – I’m always over-optimistic – and they generally bounce back.

Now for more over-optimism, or perhaps not… I bought a Victoria plum three years ago. Year one, I had four plums. Last year, two. This year (fingers welded together, please, please, please survive the June drop), it is covered.

And the spuds are looking good too; the garlic, onions, shallots and broad beans could do with rain. Or, at the very least, the restitution of our mains water. Hrumpf.

Some things are managing just fine, however. I was in the bottom garden yesterday (oh, there’s a new page with a garden tour – see the tab at the top or click the link –  so the reality of my throwaway ‘bottom garden’ description can be explored), when I realised the ramsons must be flowering. Very, very garlicky.

Much to my delight, they are beginning to spread from beneath the magnolia. I adore wild garlic – ramsons, stinking onions, whatever – and they adore living round here; there are even places named after the plant, it’s so prevalent (‘Crafnant’ – further into Snowdonia – means garlic valley, for instance).

The foxgloves are beginning to announce their presence in ways that cannot be ignored any longer. I always mean to move them about when they are smaller and then suddenly they do this:

which ensures they stay exactly where they are. For the moment, sunshine, for the moment.

I’ve got some odd aquilegias this year, but they’re proving impossible to photograph well, so they can wait for a later post. A friend gave me some seed of her dark reds, but they’ve turned baby-girl pink and frilly double chez moi. I think the marker tie must have been put on the wrong plant, and now I’ve got an outbreak of cutesy pink flowers everywhere. Fortunately there are still some purples.

They fascinate me; so improbable and so delicate. I’m not as much in love with the wilder bi-colours or the more exotic types; the classic, simple ones are fine by me. I can spend ages looking at the shapes of the buds, the elegant flowers…

And they are just about to be joined by the purple and brown irises which dominate the iris bed. They’re so splendidly heraldic and mediaeval – even though they’re modern bearded hybrids. I don’t care, and I get excited every year.

And the meadow?

Well, the meadow is a bit embarrassing at the moment; it’s not thrilling. The grasses are beginning to grow up, so the patches of longer growth are starting to be defined by the paths I’m mowing through it, and it is beginning to fill with buttercups and giant speedwells, but it’s also full of dying-back daffodil leaves – final score, 1256 – and primulas which are going to seed.

And it is, unfortunately, also edged with fluffy baby-pink aquilegias… rats.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. ronniejt28 says:

    Hi! I am visiting your blog for the first time via Plantiliscious/Janet. Its so interesting to read how other’s gardens are progressing.

    I have recently come back from Guernsey and Wild Garlic is like the plague over there, but the flowers are different. They look like white daffodils but my are they pungent!!

    Aquilegia are great and I never know what colour is coming up each year – exciting really.

    Hope you visit my blog : http://ronniejt28.wordpress.com


    1. kate says:

      Hi Ronnie – glad you found me (and I’ve found you the same way – great EOMV, fascinating seeing what other people are doing all around the country)… at least the aquilegias don’t seem to mind the drought!

  2. Oh dear! Deepest sympathy on the frilly pink aquilegia front – I found one myself the other day, but happily it is out the front in a bed I rarely look at, so that’s OK. And I know exactly what you mean about foxgloves – I thought I’d rounded up all my self-sown ones from last year but no, they are still popping up in undesirable locations, and of course it is too dry really to move them and expect them to survive the experience. Look forward to seeing your medieval irises – my pond irises are about to burst into flower, but it is far too windy to get my favourite photos of the buds.

    1. kate says:

      Perhaps the bees like the aquilegias? I’m trying to find a way of coming to terms with them; there’ll be terrible gaps if I hoick (?) them out…

      Flipping wind… I’ve tied everything down – except an old gate which landed on my cold frame. Bum. (AOK except for one runner bean and a couple of borlottis, I think. Cold frame is a) tough, and b) screwed down into concrete.)

  3. I too love wild garlic & foxgloves – for some reason they really cheer me up. We are taking a bit of battering in the wind too!


    1. kate says:

      I agree with you so much on the cheerupability of those two – I love to see my foxgloves lighting up the dark patches… they seem relatively unscathed by thiswind, too…

  4. Christina says:

    You are planting things out early! I used to go by the old addage, Cast not a clout till May is out. (there are actually different meanings to what this means – May the month or May as in Hawthorn!) Don’t complain about the aquilegeas – I’d be very happy if mine would self seed whatever the colour. I look forward to seeing your Irises, I’m just beginning to apprreciate them. Christina

    1. kate says:

      We’re often OK here on the west coast, but in the end I decided not to plant out everything. Too dry, too windy – and too tired. Got all the framework up for the beans though, and the greenhouse is sorted out – phew!

      Some more aquilegias have opened – in a deeper pink, and there are more of them, so the effect of the fluffy-bunny ones is diminished… I still think I’ll make sure I dead-head them efficiently!

  5. Hanni says:

    Heh heh…to each his own…I would probably fall in love with your baby pink aquilegias!

    1. kate says:

      Hee hee — actually, I think even I’m beginning to quite like them (they seem to be improving; well, some are darker than others…

  6. Juliet says:

    Oh no, I thought I’d found another loather of p*nk for a while there – so disappointed that you’ve started to like them – there aren’t enough of us about!

    1. kate says:

      No, it’s OK, I must have been feeling not quite myself. Bright, almost fluorescent pink (my paeonies, the rosa rugosa) is fine; baby, fluffy, girly pale pink – ergh. Didn’t even like it when I was five.

      1. Juliet says:

        Phew! I’m relieved to hear that 😉

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