Waterford, south-east Ireland. 20th. March 2021
Sometimes progress in the garden is in small steps and in any one day it can seem that not a lot has been done but looking back at the end of the week can be rewarding and encouraging.
Deadheading snowdrops was a gentle start to the gardening week. We prefer to remove the seedpods from our snowdrops so that groups of named cultivars do not become a muddle of seedlings which wouldn’t be the same as the parents. It’s a slow job, not to be rushed, but a pleasant one when the weather was mild and the sun was shining though it did bring to my attention that the lower branches of a cedar were sweeping too low, and had been catching me as I cut the grass, so I turned my hand to pruning them – another little job.
I moved on to the vegetable patch and lifted the last of the leeks which Mary quickly turned to Leek and Potato Soup, our lunch that day. Afterwards, I cut back the spinach (perpetual beet) which I had left in the ground over the winter and find I get a crop of young leaves early in the year before much other is ready. I later discard these plants as those sown this year are ready for use.
St. Patrick’s Day is often cited as the guiding date for sowing potatoes here and I was ahead of the schedule this year. We don’t grow a lot of potatoes – there’s only the two of us – and we only grow “new” potatoes, those ready in early summer. Although I have tried a number of different varieties over the years we are staunch believers in the reliable British Queens, a second early and a deliciously floury potato – at its best simply boiled, buttered, and served with pan-fried mackerel.
Work continued in the vegetable garden: the timber on one of the raise beds had rotted and fallen apart so had to be replaced and repaired – a case of mend and make-do! I sowed a few rows of lettuce seed: Unwin’s “Webb’s Wonderful” and Thompson & Morgan’s ‘Valmaine’, a cut-and-come-again variety. We grew these two last year and found them both excellent. I put in a line of mange-tout peas, ‘Oregon Sugar Pod’ and another of broad beans, ‘Aquadulce’. Mary has some broad beans already sown in the glasshouse which have just begun to sprout so between us both we should have an adequate supply.
The especially dry summer of 2018 knocked the stuffing out of a planting of primroses which I had built up on the roadside ditch outside our house and I lifted a few clumps from the garden, split them, and planted them into the ditch to help numbers recover there. I discovered I had lifted a bulb of cardiocrinum with one of the primrose clumps and then put that in what I hope is a better position for it, a damper spot which should suit it better.
An entire morning was spent regretting the planting several years ago of Oxalis oregana for it had spread well beyond any planned area and had made its way in among other plants, a perfect pest. I dug and went through the soil with painstaking care and believe I have removed it all. Of course, I’m sure a few pieces will have escaped and will reappear in time but they will be quickly removed so as to prevent another invasion.
Popeye was an entertaining cartoon in my childhood, a muscular sailor in love with Olive Oil who would biff the baddies for our amusement. I never imagined I would have Popeye muscles but it seems that I have a smaller version. My G. P. informed me today that I had torn a muscle at my elbow with the resultant swelling which in the upper arm is described as “Popeye muscle”. And, that pain in my shoulder which has been nagging me particularly this past week is certainly arthritis. There will be X-rays, anti-inflammatory medication, and an appointment with some specialist or other. She has a way about her, my G.P., of looking at me with a slight smile, almost a snigger, and a twinkle in her eye which suggests, “How could you not know that you had hurt your arm, Paddy?” for she knows I would not have attended only that Mary had “urged” me to do so – the same Mary who suggested I needed to wash and dress myself properly to take the telephone call from the doctor this morning! Anyway, I will survive; all will be well!
My everyday camera lens (for the camera enthusiasts, a Nikon 18 – 200mm) has given up the ghost. I can’t complain about this as it has given good service over the past twelve years since I bought it. Given its age, it is not worth the cost or repair so I am in the process of selecting a replacement and a replacement camera to go with it as my old Nikon D200 is also showing its age. It is now described as one of the classic Nikon cameras, a retirement present to myself, and to replace it with its equivalent model nowadays would cost more than I am willing to spend so I am in search of one which will serve my purposes without breaking my bank account. Hopefully, it will lead to nice photographs in coming blogs but, in the meantime, let’s have a look at those things which were pretty in the garden this past week:
Anemone blanda has come into full flower and make a nice patch of colour:
The Summer Snowflake, Leucojum vernum, has come into flower. This clump is at the bottom of the garden and has bulked up over the years but has never sown any seedlings, unlike those in other areas in the garden. Leucojum vernum ‘Gravetye Manor’ can be a particular nuisance with the number of seedlings which arise around it.
Daffodils are taking on the main colour show in the garden. Some of these are here for many years and continue to flower year after year. It is no wonder daffodils are so popular and such a loved plant. Two to note are Narcissus eystettensis which dates back to 1621 and ‘Van Sion’ to 1620 though ‘M.W. Brown’ is a more recent find and a particular favourite as it was sent to me by Mr. Brown himself. I wrote a blog previously on some of these Golden Oldies which might be of interest.
Primroses have always been enjoyed in our gardens, old-fashioned plants which have delighted generations with their simplicity and willingness to grow for us:
These primulas are also congenial companions in the garden and regularly give rise to interesting crosses. They may not be of a standard which would suit the commercial grower but they are special to our garden and I value them for that – our own primrose seedlings:
Finally for this week: the first of the magnolias has come into flower: Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’. It is one of our favourites in the garden but, I suppose, the first to bloom will be especially appreciated. Its solo run will not last very long for I see the first colour peeping from the buds of Magnolia soulangeana and Magnolia stellata ‘Centennial’.
I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator” on his blog site. To read more contributions to the Six on Saturday theme go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!