The Ice Saints, May 2020

Modern art, you may ask?

No, it’s a young Gingko tree, given to us by friends when we moved here, and wrapped up in garden fleece!

In Germany the final frosts of the year according to ancient folk sayings are mid-May, on the four Saint‘s Days from 12th to 15th May. And until today they are surprisingly accurate. Last night the 11th-12th was Saint Pankratius and we had a couple of degrees of frost. Tonight is Saint Servatius and temperatures could drop below zero again… a nightmare for gardeners who have been tempted by an exceedingly mild and warm April and early May to plant up pots of Pelargoniums and vegetables and sow annuals…

The Cold Frame

Thank goodness for garden fleece and various bits of packing materials saved for wrapping up sensitive plants. And for our trolley, which came in handy for gathering up these pots to put under cover for the night.

The zucchini and butternut are in pots this year as the ongoing drought deterred us from starting a vegetable bed again this spring. Maybe next year… In the meantime, it means wrapping up pots overnight. These looked a bit peaky this morning when I took the photo, but by the afternoon they had perked up, albeit with some slight leaf damage despite the fleece wrapping.

With our greenhouse plans also postponed for at least another year, I invested in this mini patio greenhouse. It has been worthwhile, with room for twelve trays. And with a bit of garden fleece it stays above freezing overnight. It was delivered in a trillion pieces though, so don’t ask how long it took me to put it together! 😫

At the beginning of our lockdown in mid-March I panicked a bit and worried I would not get any tomato plants, as even if our garden centres ever opened again there would be a rush for them. So I ordered a mix of tomato seeds from a Russian lady not far from us who has a private nursery and usually sells young plants in spring. They are all old varieties brought over from Russia by her parents, and so are not EU certified (so I can‘t eat them… 🤪🤣😉) and ALL of them germinated! So I now have 28 healthy young plants and cannot give them away as I can‘t visit anyone! I think I will be spending all summer watering…

Tomatoes, Tithonia, Sunflowers, salad leaves and a couple of leftover zucchini plants

Some dahlia tubers freshly planted in pots were brought indoors, as were my Lemon Verbena plants. I have been coddling these darlings, bringing them indoors every night.

I love lemon verbena tea and dry the leaves so I can enjoy it all year round. Last year my plants did not thrive and I had to ration my remaining tea. I hope this year I can refill my stock. 😀

The last of our Ice Saints is the dreaded ‘kalte Sophie’, cold Saint Sophia on the 15th, and it looks like that might be our last frosty night…. I do hope so as the wrapping up and unwrapping is getting a bit ridiculous!

How do you cope with late frosts? Is there a specific date for the last ones where you live?

🌷❄️🌷

In a Vase on Monday: Winky Pinky Whatever

I am pleased to be joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her regular Monday meme, as we start another weird week…

This rather pretty Aquilegia has a strange name, ‘Winky Double Rose and White’ but I am not going to discriminate it for that. 😉 I believe in freedom of the individual! And it has an upright and honest constitution.

It has set a few seedlings since last year but none of them are in flower yet.  The deep purply pink leaves of Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ and the maroon Geranium phaeum are a little dark and sombre but compliment the pink hues nicely. There is a deep velvety red Viola tucked in tight somewhere too. I also added a Pulmonaria ‘Wuppertal’ (Lungwort) which is actually past its best but the freckled leaves are almost as pretty as the flowers. And it is a reminder…

To lighten things up a bit I added a wild strawberry flower and a white Allium cowanii as well as an Alchemilla leaf. The leaves had to be rinsed as they were still covered in pollen despite a fair bit of rain recently. It seems we are having another mast year and the conifers are pumping out pollen like there is no tomorrow. I wonder if they know something we don‘t….

The doiley in the photos was crocheted by me several summers ago as a kind of therapeutic exercise… maybe I need something like that now too.

 

Excuse my odd mood this week. No, I am not on drugs and have not started drinking. Perhaps I am going potty or losing my marbles. I think you can all sympathise though.

Have a good week, and stay safe sane.

😷🤪🤪🤪😷

 

The NGS and Tulips in Dunsborough Gardens

In the UK the National Garden Scheme has been raising money for health and nursing charities for almost a hundred years through the opening of private gardens across the nation. This year those charities are threatened with a drastic drop in donations as gardens are kept closed due to the pandemic restrictions. The National Garden Scheme website has therefore started a campaign to show videos of many of the gardens that were due to open this spring, in the hope that visitors may also consider a donation. 😉

Do explore their excellent website. It is glorious to see all those wonderful gardens in the spring sunshine, but there are also many stories surrounding the gardens and gardeners, as well as news, garden products and even recipes.

If you like tulips you will LOVE this virtual tour of the tulips gardens at Dunsborough Park, UK. Do visit!

Dutch masters; a virtual visit to the Dunsborough Park tulip festival

Sunshine Bed and Larch Forest, Spring 2020

The Sunshine Bed, planted up last Spring, has come to life and really is shining in all the wonderful sunshine we have had recently. Shining despite the lack of rain this month too… I think we had one afternoon of light showers early April! (And just a few spots this afternoon)

The creamy yellow tulip is Akebono, which featured in my tulip vase last week. It is quite blousy with pretty edges that sometimes turn slightly peachy. In the background the broom has started to flower. I love having this in the garden as it grows wild in our region and is also just starting to colour the roadsides. 😃 In the foreground is a small Alchemilla mollis… in the Butterfly Bed the Alchemilla are much bigger already, but this bed is more exposed to the cold nights and wind. I have had lots of Narcissi in this bed too, but they are all over now. And I am very happy to see the Californian Poppies I had last summer have spread and are already forming nice clumps.

From a slightly different angle the new larch forest, planted last year, is just visible.

Last autumn I suddenly decided I wanted to plant a larch forest. How many trees make a forest? I chose seven small trees, about 1.3 meters tall, and planted them in the rain one dreary December afternoon. It was dark by the time I was done, but what a great feeling! 😃

And now the beautiful fresh green of their new needles is creating a lovely focal point beyond the Sunshine Bed. My Man of Many Talents kindly mowed around it the other day…

Their spring colour is intense and yet soft, and the golden autumn colour is quite magical.  Do you have larch trees in or near your garden?

I wonder what green you look forward to most in Spring… Larch green? Euphorbia green? Grass green?! Do share your thoughts! 😃

Thanks for reading. 🦋

 

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Sweet April

April is the month for tulips, but since I had a whole vase full of them last week I thought I would choose just one in its prime for today. Once again I am happy to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme. 😃

This is Tulip Menton. I loved it so much last year that I planted some more along with some Tulip Menton Exotic, which were a little disappointing as they are almost the same colour as Menton but more fussy and without that striking shape. Let‘s see how they develop as they both only opened a few days ago.

My star Hellebore is still going strong, and doesn‘t seem to be bothered by the wind or the dry ground. So it made it into this vase too, along with some Bellis, Buddleia foliage, the first Geranium phaeum to open (brought with me from the old garden), and a Camassia (I am afraid I failed to photograph it close up). The Camassia are small, and I seem to remember rather expensive, so if they don‘t come up reliably next year I think they will not be replaced. They really need to be planted alone, perhaps in a big pot as I did one year, or en masse, which I believe I saw first in a TV report about the nursery (https://www.harespringcottageplants.co.uk) that provided Camassias for Chris Beardshaw‘s garden at the Chelsea  flower show a few years ago.

On the left of the above photo is a peachy pink broom – Cytisus praecox ‘Hollandia’ –  that opened a few days ago too. It looks gorgeous in the Butterfly Bed, and smells nice too.

Below you can see the pretty little flowers of G. phaeum. They are a deep maroon that always reminds me of my school uniform! (Maroon blazers and ties!)

I have been weeding all day, but the usual therapeutic effect of spending time in the garden seemed elusive today. I am sure that looking at all the other vases linking up to Cathy‘s blog will help restore my equilibrium over the next day or so. And I have tomato seedlings to plant up too!

Hope you are all finding something in your gardens to soothe the mind and keep you busy. 💕