The garden is really coming to life now with plants growing and changing daily! The early spring perennials, so welcome after the bareness of the winter months have all but finished their show for another year and will spend the summer making larger clumps for next year. Our Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ was particularly good this year. It started to flower in February and was covered in the deep blue flowers that are so loved by early bumble bees on warm days. I like to cut Pulmonarias to the ground, leaves and all, once they have finished flowering. They then grow a new carpet of leaves through the summer that make good ground cover in our shady border. The Heuchera ‘Amethyst Myst’, also in this area has flushed into new growth with deep purple leaves that are overlaid with silver veins. I have noticed that it is starting to get woody now, but it has been such good value for the last few years, I will definitely be replacing it with some new ones later in the summer! I have planted some orange Tulips behind the Heuchera and the effect is stunning!
The winter flowering Honeysuckle has made a huge bushy plant with arching branches that are taking over one corner of the garden, so today I have pruned it back to size. It is invaluable for winter flowers and scent from November through to March, and one of the hardiest and most reliable of winter flowering shrubs. The Caryopteris (Blue Spiraea) that is near the Honeysuckle, flowers in late summer and autumn, but now that it has come into leaf, I can tidy it up with a light prune to remove the straggly growths from last year. I love the flat heads of blue flowers later on and so do the butterflies and bees!
I had forgotten how many empty pots we have, stored at one end of the garden, so I decided to plant up a couple with hardy bedding plants to add some colour until the summer bedding plants can be put outside safely in May. The new varieties of Pansies and Violas are much more weather resistant than some of the older types, so after much deliberation over the beautiful range of colours, I have purchased some of these from our local garden centre and planted them into multipurpose compost, incorporating some slow release fertilizer granules to cut down on the liquid feeding required. With a little care and dead heading, they will flower through the summer. I have quite a few Primula auriculas and these are doing well in a collection of terracotta pots, but have almost finished flowering now. I like to replace their gritty compost every couple of years to prevent Vine Weevil grubs attacking the roots; Primulas are a particular favourite of these annoying pests!
The Clematis that I pruned back in February are all shooting away again and I am now on the warpath against slugs and snails with my organic slug pellets. A small amount of rain brings them out in force!