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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Tour of the Spring Garden

When I was a kid, gardening was something done by middle-aged or elderly men: my dad and Percy Thrower, resplendent in waistcoat. (Or was that Geoffrey Smith?).

I became attuned to the annual rhythm of the garden and Dad trying out new things: veg in the back garden; not growing veg; sweet peas; Dad digging out a circular flower bed in the front which was filled first with dahlias and then some mixed roses ("Uncle Walter and co" was how they were described).  A blazing trail of Superstar, the vermilion rose which everyone had to have in the 70s.

But I didn't become a gardener myself until about four years ago when we finally cleared the back garden, as has been well documented in my blog. Here's what it used to look like.

 This year is particularly exciting because I have been remodelling my biggest border and trying out some new plants.

Plant theatre (Sarah Raven)
I am unashamed about liking the country cottage look, and having a north facing back garden means that sun loving perennials struggle. But plants like salvias, penstemons, holly hocks, fox gloves and dianthus thrive.

This year I've boosted my early summer garden by adding alliums for the first time and a few wallflowers.  I've added some Canterbury bells and scented stocks for the first time. And as always I have containers filled with later daffodils and tulips and I bring them down from the shed area when they're in bloom. I finally have my "plant theatre" which at the moment has purple primulas.
Big border on left, view towards garage and shed
In the big border I removed a couple of plants which were past their best, a very thuggish penstemon Garnet and a sickly cordyline, and this created some room for a showpiece plant which will probably be a very theatrical fuchsia. I've also added a new rose, Olivia Rose Austin.

In a few weeks time the fence and obelisk will be a riot of soft colour with three Clematis Montana doing their thing and Rambling Rector getting ready to ramble.  It's his third year and so far he has not rambled far. I am trying to contain him to make sure he doesn't overpower the fence.

View towards the conservatory
I love my few trees: the hawthorn is full of cheeping birds all day, waiting for their turn on the bird feeders. The cherry and plum trees are both heavy with buds. There is an old apple tree too which leans on the garage roof. The apples are always inedible but the blossom is delicious.

Tomorrow I'll show you the front garden.


Song bird in the hawthorn

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