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February 2012 – End of the Month View

February is the time of year when I am quite likely to do something thoughtless to the garden! It is the time of year when I see a space and plan to fill it, or move something, totally forgetting that beneath the ground there may be something going on …. like bulbs! I have found Helen’s end of the month meme very useful indeed, although this year, my end of the month posts are going to focus on particular flower beds.  Shedman and I have more or less finished all the design and building work in the garden.  Now I want to really focus on the planting in various areas of the garden and I think the End of Month views will be a good way to make notes for myself about what is needed and why.  This month it is going to be the “Shady Spring Border” In April, this border will be 4 years old and if you want to see it when we started, then I have written a post about it here on my old wordpress blog

un-known variety of pieris, with Hellebore in the Spring flower bed

Half way down the garden is the Spring border. It has Pieris which was here (somewhere) when we arrived. A camellia ‘Anticipation’, which my Mother bought for me and through the border are hellebores, which I moved from other areas of the garden.  At the end of the bed, by the return of the wall is a black bamboo and a Hydrangea ‘Fireworks’. The Hydrangea is struggling a bit in this location, it didn’t flower at all last year. So this year is make or break time for it. I think that there is water running underground in this area.  The bottom end of the bed and path is quite sodden.  It is also a cool area as it is on the north/east side of the stone wall that you see in the picture.

border with labels where plants will be later in the year

This is the view look across the “river of stones” path and I have marked where the spring perennials will fill in the gaps – but there is room for improvement!  Although as the season goes on the hellebores will fill the spaces with their leaves, at this precise time of year I was thinking some early dwarf iris reticulata would be a welcome splash of colour and, if I plant them amongst and around the hard cut back alchemilla, at the edge of the border, fingers crossed it wont be too cold and wet for the bulbs.   A couple of years ago I ordered some ‘plug plants’ of double hellebore – I planted 4 of these in the flower bed above, and 4 in another one. It took a couple of years for them to flower, the 4 in the other bed were white, and the 4 in this bed were dirty pink!

not a good colour combination between pink hellebore and red camellia

In this image – the “dirtiness” of the pink is not as bad as I perceive it in the flesh. I believe the red of the camellia and the dirty pink kill each other stone dead, so I am thinking that I will move the pink hellebore and replace them with the white doubles and perhaps add some tiny early flowering daffodils – as the red of the camellia and the yellow of the daffs would add a little zap for this time of year.

Notes to myself:-

  • Plant miniature iris and daffs in the Autumn.
  • Swop the dirty pink hellebore for the white doubles in another bed
  • Keep an eye on the hydrangea – its days are numbered unless it perks up!
  • Think about other early flowering spring plants that dont mind a bit of cold and damp.

If you haven’t joined in with the end of the month views – it is not too late to start, and dont forget to visit Helen / The Patient Gardener and have a look and see what is going on in her garden, and then you can visit the other folk who join in the “EOM Views”.



26 comments to February 2012 – End of the Month View

  • Oh I like this approach indeed. My only comment would be that if you want the iris to establish then they need to bake in the sun. The ones that have established in my garden are in the gravel under the front window which gets very hot and also in the back garden along the gravel path which also bakes in the sun. Just thought I would mention it as you say it is quite shady there.

    Todays sum requires all my fingers and some toes

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      I know they like to be baked :(
      However right by the path is in the sunshine and the ground is drier there, just thought I might chance a few little iris and see what happens.
      Doing this means that I am seriously looking at each border and working out what I need to do to improve the planting.

  • What a great idea to tag the plants in your flower bed that is a really useful way of knowing what grows where. I had a lovely dicentra but it disappeared last year so is one to replace. Thank you for sharing your garden.

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      Hi Ronnie, Yes, I have reached the point where last month I accidentally dug up a couple of plants that I had forgotten about, so I might try and do this for quite a lot of the flower beds for my own journal …. my memory is not what it used to be! Sorry about your dicentra :(

  • Dobby

    I think you are right about the hellebores and camellia. One of them needs to move. They don’t do each other any favours. It is amazing to think that the bed you picture in this blog bares any resemblance to the one that I see in late summer. Mother nature truly is wonderful.

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      Hi Dobby – I will be the hellebores that get moved, the camellia obviously loves where it is and looks really healthy it also works as a “full stop” in that flower bed. I can do summer flower beds …. it’s my spring planting that needs more work!

  • The back drop of the stone wall against the garden is beautiful.

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      Thank you Michele, most of our garden is surrounded by stone walls, it is the most common way of building in this area. Thank you for visiting and taking time to comment.

  • Interesting Karen and I agree the pink helebore ought to be moved – though I prefer single to double whites (not that it’s any of my business!). I’ve been dividing and replanting and moving plants all week – and my memory isn’t really up to the job. Hugely satisfying though – if it all works!

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      David, they will be gone (the pink hellebore). I also prefer single white hellebores to doubles – and I have a lot of them. But you know me, I am all about texture, and the doubles do add a bit of variety.
      Dividing and moving plants IS satisfying isn’t it (although you have rather a lot more to play with than me!!)

  • linda

    Hi karen,yes I agree about the hellebore.I have made a vow never to plant long stemmed daffodils again-they fall over and are eaten by slugs in a trice. Small and elegant is the way to go!

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      Ewww – I’m not at all fond of long stemmed daffs, but I am kind of coming round to the tiny one, they are quite cute. I will move the hellebore
      PS, just incase you were wondering, I am in the studio today (5th March) ……

  • Such a good way to keep track of your border, we have lots of shade and damp here, where do I start with suggestions! I think the one that comes to mind first is the huge primula family, primroses, cowslips, (I know, the books say dry and in the sun but mine are very happy!) candelabra, drumstick, vialii etc. Also the shuttlecock fern, Struthiopteris, but be warned, this will spread if happy! Rheum palmatum has fantastic leaves and hostas are happy in that situation…..I think I’d better stop! Hope this helps…have fun!!

  • Sorry, just remembered, the fern is Matteuccia struthiopteris, old age you know, names just go!!!

  • I think this is the best time to sort the borders out and pictures do remind you why some plants must be moved – and that the empty spaces of early Spring will be full by Summer. I can’t rely on my memory. I have found that having plants labelled is a boon at this time of year. I almost cheer if I find a dead plant – so desperate for a new planting space.

  • I know what you mean. I’ve being moving a few plants and uncovering bulbs. It’s getting to the point where I don’t have much space left to dig without uncovering something. I’m going to try this year to make notes of what is working/not working in the garden. My front garden is not looking as good as the back at the moment I definitely need some more bulbs and spring flowering plants but come September I’ll forget. Must make note to self.

  • VP

    I DO like your annotated borders with notes to yourself on what to do and when. I must remember to adopt your technique when considering what’s going to happen now the sentinel trees have gone…

    I see you have a new question – interesting in view of my post today (hope Commentluv spots it!)


    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      Darn it …. Why has commentluv not worked for you?

      A fascinating post VP “I’ve got the commenting blues” (Read it here)

      I certainly have the commenting blues when I try to leave comments on blogger blogs at the moment – this morning it took me 5 goes, I repeat FIVE GOES, before I got the captcha right

      Anyway mini rant over, re the annoted borders, I am going to do them for lots of bits of the garden for my own garden journal, and a few might find their way here for the EOM posts.

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      PS … It is because of the difficulty of the captcha thingey that I went for the Maths question – this has reduced my spam (caught by wordpress) from about 1,200 in the month of December to 408 in the month of January …. not great but much better

  • I like your annotated pictures too. I keep looking out at our very sparse borders and encouraging myself to dream of more seeds to order/grow, despite knowing that I put quite a few bareroot plants into the border in the autumn that could well fill the bed already if they haven’t succumbed to winter wet in their first year. I must curb my enthusiasm – and make sure to take lots of pictures through the year so that I know where the gaps really are.
    Regarding the captcha thang, I’ve found on many blogger blogs that if I try and use my wordpress OpenId to leave a comment, I cannot get the word verification right, apparently, after countless tries when it looks right to me, but it works when I use my google account to leave the comment. Very frustrating, as I’d rather use OpenId. Although I think that by selecting OpenId, blogger doesn’t populate the word verification thing properly at all; sometimes I can’t even see it, though I know there is one there preventing my comment from being accepted. Maths is definitely a lesser evil.

  • VP

    How ironic is that? 😉

    You’ll find no more captcha from me! AND I’ve removed the inline reply format too as I hated what it did with yours and other people’s apostrophes in their blog names. Though I think you’ve removed yours now.

    I knew as soon as I saw your sum that you must have been getting loads of spam. I’m amazed at how much though. Although Akismet stops it from being read by others, it still really draining to deal with isn’t it!

  • VP

    Ha! It’s worked this time. Must be because I mentioned it before 😉

  • The annotated pics are very useful… and, incidentally, reminded me how much I love the ‘river of stones’.

    I’m afraid I quite like the dirty pink hellebores (sorry), but I do agree about their proximity to the camellia. And I second / third / fourth Helen’s comment about the irises – bake those rhizomes.

  • I am with Kate here. I like the pink (or poink as I just typed) hellebores. I think you might have given me some! I was loving them and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude but now I wonder if you were just moving them out of the way of a more favoured plant. Would do a rueful smiley here if my tech skills were up to it.
    Love, love, love the labelling of plants in a bed which are yet to appear.
    We have contractors here replacing our post barn so it is all a bit brutal up our hill.

    • Karen - An Artist's Garden

      No rueful smiley required – I am fond of my pink hellebore, especially the ones I gave you, I am fond of my white hellebore. I am fond of the double pink ones – although actually I prefer the double ones when they are going over, they turn wonderful shades of greeny/pink!
      It was hard to part with any of them, but I had so many and I knew they were going to a good home :)

      I think the labelling of gaps will be quite helpful to me, my memory being what it is!

  • I’m with the majority on the hellebore question – I like the pinks and the whites (but the singles more than the doubles) but I think the pink and the camellia are definitely in a duel to the death, colour-wise. I love your border annotations – obviously I need to up my game in this department as I still do the ‘standing in the garden staring at bare earth and wondering what’s going to appear when I start digging’ style of remembering my plantings. I love dicentra and must remember to plant some more …