New Beginnings

Planting a garden from scratch is a very pleasurable thing to do, but it does require patience. πŸ˜‰ Until the beginning of March there was nothing to see out there apart from my Hellebores, and the two flower beds – just large patches of brown soil – did not look promising!

Last autumn I posted here about my new Herb Bed and Butterfly Bed. I planted both mainly with small plants, delivered from my favourite nursery in 9cm pots. Bulbs were then also planted and since February a few additions have been made. So now I invite you to come along with me and see how the garden is looking a few months later.

Here is the Butterfly Bed in spring…

Yes, it still looks rather bare! But I am very optimistic as I believe almost every single plant has come through. (One aster is still not showing any signs of life, and I am not sure the Verbena bonariensis will have survived.) The Hellebores are still going strong – here is the star of the show, Ice ‘N’ Roses “Rose”…

It has just flowered non-stop since October, and the flowers seem a much deeper pink than when I first planted it.

And here is another I planted earlier this year: ‘Double Ellen Pink’…

I love those frilly petals!

And ‘Double Prince White’…

This one can hardly be called white, rather a lovely cream with beautiful green centres as the flowers fade.

The bulbs were very slow to come up and flower, but that may be due to the fact that there is so far no shelter in this very exposed site. That should change next year, as ground cover and grasses fill out. The last week or so has been warm and sunny though, and the grass is growing and the first tulips have opened.

Tulip turkestanica…

… and my old favourites ‘Heart’s Delight’. The stems grow a little each day, and the colour deepens within days from almost white to a deep coral pink with a gorgeous canary yellow centre.

The Anemone blanda opened at the weekend too. You can also just see a Geranium phaeum seedling on the right here – brought over from the old garden. I am hoping it will spread itself around here too.

I also brought back some Primula seedlings and this Pulmonaria, which was right next to one labelled ‘Wuppertal’, so I am callling it that since I know no better!

I haven’t managed to get any photos yet, but the butterfly bed has had some butterflies visit already – Peacocks, Tortoiseshells and Brimstones. Plenty of bees too. πŸ™‚

Now let’s take a very brief look at the Herb Bed as it is still looking rather empty…

Although predominantly herbs, there are a few other plants as fillers, and naturally plenty of spring bulbs. I am pleased to see that all the Stipa tenuissima seem to be alive as I was warned young plants may not be entirely hardy. And the Rosemary didn’t bat an eyelid at being buried under a mountain of snow that fell on it from the roof! Talking of snow, a splash of blue Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) is nice against the brown soil. πŸ™‚ (That is lemon Thyme in the background).

One lesson learned this winter was that wooden lollipop sticks for labels using normal pens is not a good idea. After rain, snow and wind they are practically indecipherable! I am writing down every single plant added to the garden, but I wonder how long I will keep that up. I do have a few black plastic labels and find that silver or white markers work very well and last for several years. But perhaps you have another labelling system that is more environmentally friendly?

Do share!

Thanks for joining me.

Happy gardening!


65 thoughts on “New Beginnings

  1. I am trying hard not to be jealous. I already miss new spring plantings, but I at least brought home a few annuals for our porch. Wishing you success in your new bed.

    • Thank you John. I suppose it must be hard for you, after having been a successful gardener for so many years. I am sure your porch will look a treat though. πŸ™‚

  2. Looking forward to watching these beds bloom and mature, Cathy. Maybe you’ll revive the Tuesday View this year? Are you retaining the old property as well? I have grown fond of seeing that garden!
    I used to keep garden plans and labelled plants, but that fell be the wayside as things died, were moved and/or were replaced. I do have those metal tags that Amelia refers to above, but haven’t got around to using them! I don’t get many visitors and those that do seldom care to know what the name is, so I’m lazy about marking things!

    • Hi Eliza. Yes, I am sure to post a photo or two of the old garden… after spending a few hours there tidying up! So glad it is easy to care for there. Yes, we intend to keep it for now – a new housing development is planned right next to it though. (The main reason we moved!) Same here about visitors not being terribly interested in names of plants. I do like to keep a tab on what I have though, so will probably just stick to lists for now.

  3. Such lovely flowers! I’m doing a lot of prep work this year to prepare for gardening next year. I’m starting with food, but I hope down the road to add flowers and make it into something beautiful.

    • Wonderful. I am doing it the other way round…. flowers first and next year we hope to start a vegetable garden. ButbI do have plenty of herbs. πŸ™‚ Thanks for visiting!

  4. Your garden is beautiful! It’s lovely that you’re getting butterflies and bees. My beds are still full of weeds, but the daffodils, hellebores, snow glories, and hyacinths are blooming. It’s wonderful.

  5. I am so glad you shared your photos, Cathy! I absolutely love your butterfly garden and I can’t wait to see how it continues to change and bloom and attract! πŸ™‚

  6. What beautiful hellebores you have Cathy! Mine are just starting to bloom, so I envy that you have enjoyed yours since October.
    It will be fun to watch your gardens mature.
    I had one butterfly yesterday too. I have never seen a butterfly this early in the year for our cold climate. It was a delight to the eyes as I’m sure yours were too.

    • Thanks Cindy. I was amazed that the hellebores continued flowering all winter – the nursery must have given them a great mix of feed before they came home with me! πŸ˜‰ Hope you get lots more butterflies soon.

  7. What fun having a blank canvas to work on and watching it develop and mature over the months and years. You have made a good start. I have never resolved the label problem, so now if I am not sure what something is I take a photo of the plant and label together.

  8. Very exciting beginnings and such a variety! I am glad your butterfly bed welcomes bees too :). I tried the wooden lollipop sticks with the same results. I have now moved onto oyster shells and a black garden pen and I shall report on how they survive with time. Amelia

    • I only noticed how green the grass has got when I looked at the photos later! Yes, the leaves are starting to sprout on the trees all around us too!

  9. Cathy I love your flowers. It is special the Hellebores that are jewels and the Tulips that are wonderful. I like Chionodoxa a lot. If you have endured this winter under all the snow, you have already secured the Chionodoxa for years and proliferate at ease: I tell you because I planted the first about 10 years ago and now there are a lot and are beautiful. Happy week of gardening and good weather. Here in Madrid it’s raining and it’s 9ΒΊC. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Greetings from Margarita.

      • Cathy, I’m afraid not. It is colder and rains in Madrid and it snows 800 meters in the north or less. And keep it up until at least Tuesday. After that they have not given more information in the news about the weather. To stay warm touches me. Have a good weekend πŸ™‚ . Greetings and memories of Margarita.

  10. How exciting Cathy to watch your new beds develop. ‘Heart’s Delight’ is a little beauty. I’m going to write down its name as although I don’t have much luck in general with tulips I might fare better with the dwarf varieties. Is the soil in your new garden very different to the other?

    • Heart’s Delight is a real treasure Anna, so I hope you find some. The soil here is not as alkaline as in the rockery, and it is slightly sandy too so does not retain water well – not good as we have not had rain for a few weeks again and it looks like we may be in for another dry spring.

  11. It’s so exciting making a new garden, isn’t it? Brimstone butterflies are my favourite. We tend to only see them in spring. Is that the same for you?

    • Yes, we usually only see Brinstones in spring although I did see the odd one late summer/autumn last year. Strange, as they are apparently the butterfly wih the longest lifespan in Germany! πŸ™‚

  12. Cathy, how exciting to be planting a whole new garden. I love that you’ve brought some favorites from your old place and that you’ll mix in new ones. Gardens, in my experience, really take off at the 18 month mark and by three years, have filled in beautifully.

    Here are a few tips for plant identification. I created a list of everything in my garden and created a page on my blog. I broke things down into annuals, perennials, herbs, native, trees and ground cover. Slowly I’m trying to link a photo to the name, either from my garden blog or from an internet listing. Another thing I’ve seen and have always wanted to do is sketch the various garden beds. The ideas is to drop the various shapes onto graph paper, then using colored pencils and symbols, identify what you’ve planted. I’ll leave this comment, but will be back with a few links.

    It’s always a welcome part of my day when I can stop by. xo

  13. That is thrilling, Cathy – and most inspiring as my border is still brand new and mostly under weeds. I have my lemon thyme ready to go in, though. πŸ˜‰ Your hellebores are beautiful; I especially like that first ‘Ice N Roses’ single. And the species tulips… This will be such a lovely garden to watch grow!!

    • P.S. I just made butternut squash soup: a recipe my sister and I have come to really enjoy. I had never tried it till seeing yours – ages ago now, and I can’t recall whether it was squash or pumpkin – here on the blog and had to make some. Just wanted to let you know! πŸ™‚

    • It’s always exciting in spring to see what will come up, but in a new garden even more so! Can’t wait to see what your garden will look like!

  14. It will be so interesting watching the progress, Cathy. Am I wrong in thinking you still have your previous garden, or was there a time overlap? I must have missed some posts aling thecway, I think

    • We still have our old house and garden and are planning on keeping it at the moment, but naturally the rockery will be somewhat neglected again this year. I hope to bring more seedlings, cuttings etc over in the next year or so as I prepare new beds here. But progress depends on the weather… it has been very dry again recently and a lot of new planting means a lot of watering… πŸ˜‰

      • Thanks for confirming that, Cathy, as I wasn’t sure. Getting used to a different garden and different weather conditions will be an interesting journey

    • Yes, it is very exciting as I have always fitted planting around what was there before me. You and your garden have really been an inspiration to me over the past few years Christina, so thank you! I am hoping my Stipa tenuissima will look as lovely as yours one day. They survived their first winter well, so I am full of hope. I am also so tempted to cram lots of plants into the spaces I have already prepared, but must stick to my plans as I have a clear image of how it should look in a few years. πŸ™‚

  15. I can remember my gardens in Maine in the springtime, they too looked a little bare. By the end of summer, they were all filled out with not much room to add anything else if I wanted to. I’m happy that your rosemary survived, each year in New England it had to be replanted.

    • Thanks Karen. Yes, I have to keep reminding myself how the beds will look in August! I rarely manage to keep a rosemary outdoors over winter, but I chose the warmest spot near the house, and the insulating layer of snow probably saved it in our cold spell. πŸ™‚

  16. The labels that we use on the camellia and rhododendron stock plants that will be out in the arboretum for many years are those aluminum strap like devices that are wired on loosely with copper wire. I print on the thin aluminum against the cardboard backing to imprint the cultivar name into the aluminum. I do so with a no good ball point pen. They do not last forever either, and they are quite expensive, but they work for a few years. Fortunately, the guy who need to remember the names really does remember the names. The labels are there for others. If they don’t find a label, they ask.

    • As an arborist, I tag trees with those stamped out metallic discs that get nailed to trees. They can also be wired loosely to trees, or nailed to stakes. Of course, they are not practical for perennials that are regularly changing, but they might work for things that stay around for a while.

      • Yes, the metal tags are useful for trees or shrubs, but not so much for perennials. I will probably take advice given above and take a photo of each plant in its place and label the photo!

  17. I love a new planting area – it’s always so full of possibilities – and it’ll be fascinating to see how these mature. Looking lovely already. The beds I planted a couple of years ago have already filled out and are a little too full in places! I was going to suggest photos for plants/labels but Chloris has already said that. As long as you’re organised with your photos (I’m not!), it should work well.

    • I am planning on being organized with my photos but I suspect things will be put off until winter with all good intentions to catch up then!…. LOL! It is tempting to fill gaps now, but I know the beds will fill out in a year or two so just need to resist and keep on top of the weeding until ground cover gets established. πŸ™‚

  18. It’s nice to see more (or something rather!) of your new plot, Cathy. A blank canvas, how exciting! Are you next to a forest again? Any neighbours? I’m always curious about the setting too. What kind of house do you have now? Did you build it? Any progress with the greenhouse? Ours is supposed to arrive soon. At least while you wait you have all those pretty flowers to look at. Chionodoxa is a star plant of which I should plant more as it’s so reliable. Hellebores too, they cope well with drought which is so important. I was thrilled to see my seedlings flower for the first time this year. Have a lovely May x

    • Hi Annette. Things are taking shape now! It is a large open expanse of open land on a slope with a large house and barn at the centre, woodland to the north and north-west and farmland east and south of us. The house was old but completely rebuilt before we bought it, so rather modern and very cosy. πŸ˜‰ The greenhouse is on hold at the moment – we want to enjoy a summer with no turmoil as intensive watering may also be necessary this year. We have had a drop of rain but not enough for the trees. How is your rain situation this spring? Has your garden recovered from the drought last summer? Happy May Day Annette!

      • sounds fab, very happy for you πŸ™‚ and you’re wise too, enjoy summer, why wouldn’t you. spring has been very dry so far, they say it’ll be an even drier year than last year, but usually we have the same precipitation every year and if winter and spring have been dry it may mean we get some rain during summer, who knows. πŸ˜‰ In any case we make the best out of it. About to finish my new book so look forward to a (hopefully) more relaxing summer. The garden has recovered fairly well, just a bit of dieback in some shrubs.

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