Recent Gardening Journal Entries
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I've just come in from the garden at almost 9 o'clock it is still just dusk or dimpsey as they say here in Devon. It has been a perfect clear blue sky day and the warmest since 1949 with temperatures up to 29.1C recorded in London. Here we still managed a respectable 23C and tomorrow is set to be just as fair. Spring so far had been very tardy trundling along in a minor key and the warmth makes miracles in the garden with every day bringing something new. 'Old Blush' is protected under a sheet of glass against a south facing wall of the house and has had flowers or buds showing colour ever since it started flowering last year. The panes were only just put in place to protect from the worst winter weather. 'Viridiflora' is also just starting and I'm excitedly waiting for whatever rose Beales is selling as 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China' to bloom, maybe it will 'Fée Opale'? I will take the glass away tomorrow they have enough protection against the house and over hanging eaves. It is building up to an exciting time with many roses flowering and other ones planted for the first time. Erinnerung an Brod', 'Duchesse d'Angoulême', Variegata di Bologna', 'Mousseux du Japon', 'Dupontii', 'Richardii', 'Wolley-Dod's Rose' and a nice form of Rosa sericea with dainty fern-like leaves collected in the Himalayas are all waited for with eager anticipation as well as a couple of foundlings one of which is already showing tiny buds in the centre of the shoots. New roses planted this year include 'Micrugosa Alba', 'Salet', 'Zigeunerknabe' but my most thought-over has to be Rosa foetida 'Bicolour'. For a long time I have been fascinated by this rose, the contrasting orange and yellow flowers and the fact that almost every yellow and every orange rose owe their colours to this one. But I have been put-off by the fact it gets terrible blackspot and how a rose from Persia would possible grow in cool North Devon where it is possible to have a light frost in July! However I have been persuaded that it will tolerate a climate with low summer temperatures and that the blackspot does not really seem to affect its vigor all that much. Its half-neice 'Agnes' has made a bush 1.5M high and almost the same across. It is healthy and flowers well so I will plant foetida 'Bicolor' near-by.
"we'll pay for it later", scorching as this is it is no time for complacency; keep your geraniums and runner beans inside, last year at the end of April we were hit by two very hard frosts. The oaks had 10CM or so of new growth and below a certain elevation, or down here in the valley this was all burnt off by the frost. More devastating was the damage to grape vines and other orchard trees, I did not get a single apple or gooseberry. 'Pompom de Paris, Cl.' lost most of its first and main flush of flower and 'Roxburgii normalis failed to flower at all.
What is rather worrying is the absence of butterflies. They had a dreadful year in 2017, from the middle of July until October we had rain in some form or other almost every single day. Apart from a few Brimstones and couple of Tortoise Shells, and single Red Admirals, Peacocks, a Meadow Brown, an Orange Tip; I'm used to seeing half a dozen at once. There does seem an abundance of bumble bees, big fat queens at this time of year, sometimes they are the loudest noise to be heard. The sunshine has suddenly bought all the primroses and celandines out and all along the lanes are shades of yellow, so at least there is plenty of nectar for them to feed upon.
Other plants that are coming out are the beautiful Prunus 'Ukon', double flowers hanging like over weight ballet dancers and the same green/pink/white effect as the rose 'Greensleeves'. A very good year for Camellias too with exhibition quality blooms on all the plants. For a few weeks there has been no frost at night so plants in flower have not browned off. Rhododendron 'Lutescens' has never flowered so well, neither has Magnolia stellata 'Rubra'. And in the evening air, a balsam poplar and Osmanthus decorus fill the night with a mixture of sandlewood and cinnamon and the sweetest jasmine. Now we must hope for no more hard frosts, the beautiful scarlet-orange new shoots festooning the Peris are so defenceless. The swallows are here I've heard a cuckoo.
Roses: Spring 2018
Late February: Planted 4 potted CORAL KNOCKOUTS. All 4 have experienced winter dieback almost to the ground. 3 or 4 freezes since they have been planted. Definitely should have waited another month to put them in the ground. Maybe try starting roses in pots in the garage if it's too early.
Mid March: planted 2 HOT N SPICY climbers in ground in a area that gets probably 3-6 hours of direct sun. Worried about the amount of shade, but there is good growth. The dog dug into one of them after I put down Hollytone, so if it does poorly, that could explain why.
Also planted 1 CHARISMA in a small pot. Probably only big enough for this growing season. It's not leafing out particularly well.
Put 2 JOSEPH'S COAT climbers in urns with wooden trellis inside. 1 seems to be generating new growth. The other is still green but not much, if any new growth. One of them might be mislabeled. They don't look similar so far.
Early April: planted 3 FRAGRANT CLOUD bare roots into a bed near electric box. They experienced minor dieback after 1-2 freezes. Can't tell if they are actually growing or not after 1-2 weeks in ground.
Mid April: planted 2 APRICOT CANDY bare roots and 2 FRAGRANT CLOUD potted roses into the same bed near electric box. This area gets at least 8 hours of full sun a day and should have no problems with air circulation. Temps dipped down to 33/35 within 15 hours of planting but those low temps only lasted 3-5 hours.
Next week it will be "summer" over here as the weather-forecast predicts... and we already have so much "spinach" in our garden:
Last year, I sowed Président de Sèze seeds, that I got from HMF-member Carsten. Only three germinated in 2017 and two seedlings survived winter.
...But surprise, this spring after overwintering outside, a lot more germinated: