Come on more spring flowers please!

Last month we had strange weather. February had days feeling like spring and I saw people walking around in T-shirts! In climate terms a week of warm weather in February is disturbing.

However, March, so far, is turning out to be more like a usual March. It has been very, very windy, but that hasn’t affected these British grown tulips. They come from some of the extensive glass houses in Lincolnshire. Growing under glass has enabled British tulip growers to compete with imports from overseas and there are no air or sea miles. Growing under the protection of glass also lengthens the season for growing all kinds of cut flowers. Have you noticed how stocks (Matthiola incana) have joined the buckets of roses and lilies commonly available? However, for us domestic gardeners in East Anglia it will be another month before even the tulips are blooming in full force.

This bunch of tulips lasted well over a week before fading away.

This year I resisted the temptation to plant seeds in February. I am holding my nerve even with the indoor sowings. I am trying to avoid weak, leggy seedlings as I don’t have a greenhouse to provide consistent good daylight.

It is early days in the ‘new’ old backyard and too dreary to photograph with piles of rubble left behind by previous owners. Although it is a small space, it’s going to be a long old haul to sort out, but some pots of pelargoniums and dahlias, and a mini swathe of hardy annuals should at least add some colour for this summer.

Looking forward to having bunches of cosmos and dahlias – hopefully.

Expecting the best, I have already had a poke around in the pots of the overwintered dahlias and, fingers crossed, so far they’ve come through the winter. From now on I just have to watch out for early slug damage to the tender new shoots.

At last I have a rough plan, you could, at a stretch, call it a design for the backyard. It has been just over a year since I moved in and I have been observing the sunlight and shade patterns and I can see I have my work cutout to achieve any kind of flower garden. Disappointingly, there’s more shade than I had expected, not least from the enormous eucalyptus tree three gardens down.

It is a long-established tree and is easily 10 feet or so taller than the surrounding three-storey houses. As I write, its upper branches are violently whipping around, bending this way and that in the strong winds. It is really quite inappropriate for a Victorian terrace backyard and it overhangs six gardens. I am guessing it was originally planted to screen out the neighbours at the bottom of the garden and has just been left to grow and grow by a series of non-gardening homeowners.

Finishing on a more optimistic note I am looking forward to more of this

and many more of these!

My daylily potted up in Norwich, transported and transplanted and forming a healthy, vibrant clump with shoots already over three inches tall.

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

23 thoughts on “Come on more spring flowers please!”

  1. If anyone can make a go of your challenging outdoor space, I think it will be you. You appear to have ideas, know-how and determination. That ought to sort things out.

    1. I can imagine quite a few solutions, however the extremely tight almost non-existent budget is mightily challenging my determination. There’s enough rubble to create a mini mountain range, but there’s too much shade for Alpine plants. And, our local tip now charges residents to dispose of rubble, £1 per bag. I thought it was crushed and sold on as hardcore to builders.

      1. W-h-a-t? Ours charge builders and so on, but not householders. Could you blog about your problem? It might generate a discussion and ideas?

      2. I am not sure whether it is just Suffolk County Council or whether this is now a trend across the country, but dumping ‘household’ waste at your local tip is still free. However, any rubble, soil and other waste that is generated by a private household during DIY work apparently is now separate from household waste and comes under the Controlled Waste Regulations and as such the council makes a small charge for its disposal.

      3. Actually, I originally typed a longer reply to you going on about ‘Austerity’, and all the genuinely terrible consequences, but thought it was a bit too angry so hit the delete button. It is so difficult for poorer councils when it is a central government policy to cut funding. And, the money that has been wasted on B. Arrgh 😡

    1. Yes, wow absolutely, a nice comment for such a monster! Seriously though, I think this backyard is going to test me on the gardening front, but hey, what’s life without the odd challenge or two.

      1. I think it’s got to make it interesting, trying to understand the personality of the place you have and how to bring it out. Something new is always exciting, I think, and I am sure you’ll meet new plants and flowers too as a result.

      2. Yes, I am sure you are right. I’ll let you into a little secret, I’ve just bought a new plant for me, a Bergenia cordifolia, which might be a bit dull and boring, but at least I will have some little flowers in the shade.

      3. I looked up this plant and it sounds perfect. I don’t think it looks dull at all, and I made a note of it myself, because the source I read, White Flower Farm catalog, says deer do not like it, a must in my yard. Also sounds like you might get green leaves on it all year around? I’ll be interested to see how it works out.

      4. Yes, you do get green leaves all year round and I think it’s one of those plants that probably just need a quick tidy up of any dying leaves about twice a year. I have very free draining soil, but if you don’t, you can add some horticultural grit at planting so their roots don’t get waterlogged.

  2. Arrgh Giant Eucalypts in small suburban backyards. I’m surprised the owner hasn’t had roots in their pipes or some other disruption. I can’t imagine they have much green grass under it; and it looks as if it is shedding its bark (a normal process), which can be a fire hazard if not tidied up.

    Derek Knight (another English blogger) has one in his backyard but a much smaller version and he is probably on a half acre.

    On this recent road trip I took several photos of trees, partly with you in mind, partly because they are just so interesting – in – a – forest or rainforest.

    1. Thanks for all your apt ‘local’ advice. I find it amazing that the neighbours haven’t got together to get it taken down before now. I feel too much of the newbie to start the discussion, yet! Trouble with taking a big tree out is that our terrace has already been destabilised once by a WWII bomb down the road, and removing this tree could cause heave. Think it would have to be done over three or more years and can’t see the landlord being bothered to take any action even if we all agreed to share the cost. Of course, the tenants are here today and gone tomorrow and not interested. Plus side I have a view from my office of greenery and tweeting birds.

      1. Waiting at the train station this morning, early, there were a dozen or more lorikeets going to town on one particular eucalyptus and ignoring the others. Their screeching and squawking was quite delightful. As if they were telling each other which were the tastiest blossoms. “Try this one! No! Not that one. This one!!” Even the animal kingdom have their preferences 🙂
        Perhaps the tree needs lopping and the stump poisoning? Over time, the roots might shrivel of their own accord. Sounds drastic though, doesn’t it? And without buy-in from the landlord, not much will happen. Imagine the chaos if the building really did slip. Best enjoy the tweeting of happy birds and think of me over here with the lorikeets.

      2. My father and I were discussing your local knowledge and response to the eucalyptus issue yesterday. He also told me he had recently watched a documentary about the drought in Australia and during the course of the programme there was a discussion about a problem with many eucalyptus trees dying? I thought they were drought tolerant. Is this a disease problem with the trees? My dad commented that a lot of wildlife is dependent on them too, like your lorikeets? Sounds worrying.

      3. Well, I should preface my answer with “I am a city girl”. I turn on a tap, I expect water to come out. If I’m being careless, I let the water run while I’m brushing my teeth. The drought is something that happens beyond my narrow world, although dam levels are a point of conversation and there is talk of commissioning Sydney’s desalination plant after all.

        My knowledge of what is happening out there in our great brown land is gleaned from our road trips, or, like your father, from news and documentaries. I can tell you, IT IS dry out there. Walking across paddocks, the remnants of grass cracked and scrunched underfoot as if it was ice. Walking in the rain-forests, the trees drooped from inadequate water, rather than from moisture dripping off them. And their canopies were not as dense as they should have been.

        There have been recent rains on the eastern seaboard; and in our far north, in that case due to the congruence of two cyclones, but is it enough? We never seem to hear the follow up.

        We saw few sheep on this latest road trip. Is that because we were mostly in cattle country – or because the farmers have de-stocked? Once again, we saw cattle walking the Long Paddock, i.e. being mustered along roadsides to eat what little grass grows there. But not as many as I have seen in the past. Again – because of de-stocking?

        As for the eucalypts . . . there are over 800 varieties growing in Australia. Some, like the Red River Gum (which grows by rivers, as the name suggests), naturally drop their limbs in time of drought to conserve water. Others grow in shallow, sandy soils and are prone to collapse if the soil erodes further due to drought. In essence, eucalypts are drought-tolerant, but not immune to suffering in prolonged dry spells. Coupled with extreme hot temperatures, many are under stress. There are studies suggesting certain species are “migrating” to more temperate areas, and that mean loss of wildlife who depend on that habitat. This includes bees, who as you know, play such a vital role in the environment. My cousin, who lives in dense bushland, had a hive that was abandoned overnight. He can only put it down to the condition of the trees in that area on account of lack of rain.

      4. Oh my it does sound a worrying litany. I see Australia as a continent has a wealth of drought-adapted flora and fauna that have evolved over the millennia. However, it is looking like the timescale for this particular global warming is going to put nature to the test again, can only think that humans have seriously got their work cut out too. It would be nice to think that under stress we could all come together and act collectively, but history suggests that when resources such as water are at crisis supply levels, people behave very badly. Tough times ahead.

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