Thursday 21 March 2019

My garden in March

March is a great time in the garden

Oh no not again

Wet start
My pure silt/sand soil lies over clay several metres down. The top to bottom fall of the garden is a metre and the fall from adjacent land is the same. The lower garden is wonderful in Summer when after heavy rain the lower parts receive drainage water and moisture loving plants thrive.
The deep clay layer which is almost impermeable to water is overlaid by wonderfully drained sandy soil.
Like all soils the soil moisture deficit  accumulates through the Summer as plants extract water which duly  evaporates. I estimate last very dry Summer the theoretical deficit was as much as five inches and roots penetrated very deeply.

My soil is effectively a sand filled basin. In Winter when transpiration and evaporation is relatively small water accumulates. By Christmas its deficit is usually restored and water starts to stand. If it is a wet Winter it floods.
I won't bore you with the as yet unresolved sad saga of my silted up drain. Before this I did not have a problem.
Last year in the very wet 2017/18 Autumn and Winter I had standing water January to late March. I reported how plants such as daffodils bravely came through it with no loss of quality. Most of my plants in that part of the garden are selected for water tolerance but even gunnera and astilbe did not enjoy the experience and several plants died.

I thought I had got away with it this year but the recent very heavy rains have flooded it again. I had settled down to water standing for perhaps a month. To my delight the recent persistent gales have evaporated much of the flooding away. (Coming from due west all the water was dropped over the Pennines)
Late amendment I no sooner wrote this and the wind changed to the south west and dumped more than an inch of rain! Ah well my newly  sown grass seed will love it


The daffodils needed a very thorough watering
The other side of the coin of extreme windy weather is that considerable evaporation means that plants with a large leaf area rapidly dehydrate and those in containers need to be well watered. Many gardeners, complacent that they have got through the Winter without watering their outdoor bulb pots at all do not understand this and wonder why their daffodils do not perform.

Corkscrew hazel

Corylus avellana 'Contorta'
The contorted hazel can be the most elegant plant in the garden or the most ugly. It all depends on the pruning. Those who recognise that this plant almost inevitably produces straight rods from ground level which must be ruthlessly cut away will do better.
Those who are brave enough to take out large pieces and give vent to their artistic vision will succeed.
My friend (I hope still), blogger Sue Garrett rejoices she did nothing and now has very fine pea sticks.

Inside our 'live in' conservatory

Christmas cactus
I had intended a post showing the continuity of flowering of six colours of Christmas cactus brought in in sequence from our frost-free front door glass lean-to. Maybe next year. The only week November to March without cactus flowers was Christmas week! Sod's law.

Hippeastrum, the amarylis lily
Six weeks ago this was a dormant scruffy almost leafless bulb in our frost free area. This is the sixth year it has flowered in the same large pot of soil compost refreshed each year with a top dressing of my Yaramila fertiliser. The conservatory is heated for our own comfort and when brought into warm conditions our 'lily' bursts into life.


Three years ago I splashed out on three new hellebore plants to extend  my colour range. Now more than a hundred seedlings have germinated under their parents and I confidently expect them in two years to make similar flowers

"Am I the only mad one round here"
Narcissus obvallaris, the Tenby daffodil
My front grass verge gets run over by traffic and yesterday some idiot trotted her horse across it but my rugged Tenby daffodils are tucked far enough back to escape.

Bulbs get into wild places
I asked Cathi if she had any pictures of a mad march hare and she sent me three Harry Poole photos

I wrote about Christmas cactus here
Hippeastrum here
Helleborus here


  1. The Tenby daffodil! I will have to get some of them for a part of "Little England Beyond Wales" in Scotland.

  2. I'll consider whether I am still your friend, Roger ... yes I am. I actually didn;t like the twisted hazel as it was really ugly when in leaf. The bushes on the allotment resulted when I dig it up from the garden - well OK Martyn did - we then split it into two and ended up with out straight limbed specimens. I hope the horse repaid you by leaving some deposits.

    1. That's a relief! I knew it would withstand a mild tease.
      Actually I agree with you how boring it can be throughout the summer- only alleviated by imaginative pruning.
      I wonder what the catkins (If any) look like on the long rods - which as you know is the rootstock taking over - or by then they are holding up your peas?

    2. The catkins are just normal catkins - nothing specal

  3. The weather certainly throws us Gardeners some challenges throughout the year.

    1. The trick is to persuade your self that its all for the better!
      Seriously my firm belief is that where possible you are flexible in your immediate garden tasks you undertake according to the weather eg you hoe when its windy, spray when it is still and dry, or plant when it is wet ( An option not available to soil fluffers)

  4. Love you little rant about conditions....when we find the right plants and some sort of equilibrium on our patch....what joy! It's so easy to wish for the perfect garden, perfect weather, perfect plants with no disease, no insect damage, yet lovely butterflies or other insects to watch. Cuckoo land comes to mind...and yes I shall listen out to see if they come this year. Meanwhile, I enjoy the tawny owls in the evening, and calling at 5:25 this morning with the dawn chorus.

    1. Not really a rant, more a philosophical comment Stash. If it was too easy ......

    2. Sorry Roger...I love a philosophical discussion, I shall remember that term which is very much more civilised.


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