End of Month View – February 2018

18_02_24_8528The view across the garden has not really changed yet since the start of the year but elsewhere as we will see spring is beginning to burst out. It has been very cold -5c at night for the last few days and the outlook is snow so it is lucky I have taken some photos already.

Over the years we have split and planted snowdrops in a number of our beds and at this time of year they reliably put on a great display for little cost. I have never gone out of the way to buy some of the expensive snowdrop bulbs and have been more than happy with the effect that is created. There are some singles which were probably here 25 years ago when we moved here and some doubles which we introduced. The great thing about snowdrops is that once they have finished flowering the leaves etc soon die off and can be removed and the bed is ready for the next display eg tulips etc.18_02_25_8536Some of the cyclamens are also out with snowdrops and Iris Histrioides Katherine Hodgkin. These all look a bit frosted.

I had hoped for some new planting of crocus this year but unfortunately the grey squirrel has dug them up and eaten them. The odd thing is that once established the squirrels seem to leave them alone. Next year I will have to plant them in pots (out of the way of the squirrels) and effectively “plant them in the green” which has worked before.

Here are some of the Glebe House Hybrids. See Ashwood Hellebore Nursery18_02_25_8543The aconites  Eranthis Hyemalis that I planted last year have come back and are in flower. See Aconites and others spring delights18_02_25_8540Crown imperial fritillary are coming through at a great speed. They have been coming back each year for 15 years now.18_02_24_8532One of the delights of the winter border is Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ looking really good against the yew hedge. It does have a habit of running which means a bit of work later in the year to control it and maybe some free plants from the runners! However the colour at this time of year is hard to beat.18_02_01_8523One of the jobs that I have been slow to do this year is tidying up the climbing roses. This is Rosa ‘Shot Silk’  and you can see extensive vertical growth from last year. These vertical growths need to be persuaded into the horizontal. Unfortunately they are not well behaved and often you will find they have grown up behind the wires which can mean having to remove the wire, releasing all the other branches that have been fixed to the wire in previous years!18_02_01_8525In addition some of the growth has died back and this needs to be removed.18_02_24_8526After about six hours of work and many scratches then you can stand back and admire the result. To a large degree this is the main maintenance work on a climbing rose.

That’s the good news but we do have many climbing roses that all need tiding up. “Before” and “After” for Rosa ‘Alchemist’ a great rose that has been here for at least 25 years.18_02_25_8542And another one just completed, Rosa ‘Alister Stella Grey’.18_02_25_8545Lastly the Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ which has been trained horizontally above a lot of different spring flowers is really visible this year as there are also three Rosa ‘Jacques Cartier’ which are normally in front of the pyracantha. These had not done well recently and we have cut done right down to grown level to regenerate them.

2018 Gardening Hours
Week beginning
February 174th
Total 2018 to-date Average per week
10 70 10

So far this year we are well behind last years average of 20 hours a week. It is no wonder I am still pruning the roses! When the snow stops I must get out and do some more!

Do have a look at Helen The Patient Gardener’s blog where you fill find links to other gardens at the end of February. Thank you to Helen for hosting this meme.

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Ashwood Hellebore Nursery

18_02_15_8485There have not been many perfect sunny days so far in 2018 and I was lucky to be part of a private visit to Ashwood Hellebore Nursery with the Leicestershire & Rutland Gardens Trust on an exceptionally sunny day.18_02_15_8486This was the first time I had visited the nursery and I have to say the stock looked very healthy and was extensive.

The guided “Hellebore Tour” gave us a fascinating insight into the history of Ashwood Hybrid Hellebores. 18_02_15_8489Part of the propagation shed full of hellbore stock.18_02_15_8491Our guide explaining the process of pollination and selection. I had heard that they were trying to develop hellebores which held their heads up. However, this is no longer the case as they found that, with the open flower upwards, they suffered from the rain etc. They now concentrate on flowers whose backs have more interest as it is the backs that are most viable from above.

never the less the stock plants clearly demonstrated why their hellebores are world famous.

18_02_15_8507As well as the hellebores, the private visit included a tour around “John’s Garden”. John’s Garden is the private garden of John Massey, owner of Aswood Nurseries. It is situated behind the nursery in a canal-side setting, in the lovely open countryside of South Staffordshire. The garden has been developed since 1998.18_02_15_8503We were lucky to have John taking us around. He is an encyclopedia of plant knowledge and a great guide which made that garden come alive. He explained about transparency pruning and the importance of respecting a tree’s natural shape and form. The garden has a lot of shrubs that have been pruned in this way and I am sure any gardener would find this interesting.18_02_15_8505

Throughout the garden there are some great examples of sculpture. The canal can be seen towards the back of some of these pictures.18_02_15_851318_02_15_8512Looking both ways along the pond.

As you would expect there are many interesting plants. The garden worked exceptionally well as a winter garden but from the photos of the garden at other times it would certainly be worth a visit on one of the open days.