Signs of Spring

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I’ve been out of town this weekend, enjoying the delights of Surrey’s innumerable hostelries in the company of my university friends. It’s the 19th year on the trot we’ve held a spring reunion. The occasion took place on Good Friday until we grew up and family commitments started to take precedence. Now we are more flexible about the date. The rendezvous has nothing at all to do with plants, and everything to do with beer and recounting lewd tales from the years we lived together. None of these will be repeated here lest I go down in your estimation, which I most certainly would. Truth is, you had to be there to find them even vaguely humorous.


Impatiens omeiana is already producing copious new shoots
Impatiens omeiana is already producing copious new shoots


Either side of the boozing and storytelling, I did get to spend time in our London garden. By now it is crying out for some tender loving care, having been cast into darkness since October. A blackbird has ensured the soil surface has had a good picking over (too good in places) and the earthworms have taken care of any remaining autumn leaves. Mr Fox has caused a lot less mischief this winter, although his presence can still be detected. It may well be that he finds the freshly raked vegetable beds too irresistible to ignore, creating havoc with the oriental salads, radishes and opium poppies I have sown today.


An unusual yellow hellebore with yellow nectaries
An unusual yellow hellebore with bright yellow nectaries


Frequent showers meant there was no need to water my seeds in. Precipitation alternated between rain and hail, which made the going tough, especially since I still had a slightly sore head. I can’t imagine why. Inspecting hellebores is an excellent hangover remedy, or cure for mild depression. I was happy to find some of those I thought I might have lost, flowering in dark corners of the garden. All of my hellebores hail from Bosvigo in Cornwall, including one with bright yellow nectaries and primose yellow petals purchased last year. It hasn’t come back quite as strongly as I had hoped, despite a lot of pampering. Meanwhile the reds, plums and blacks have come on a treat, each plant now surrounded by a miniature lawn of seedlings. I will grow some on to see if I have created any worthy new hybrids of my own. Please excuse my fingers in the photographs below.


Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017

Helleborus 'Bosvigo Doubles', March 2017


The snowdrops are coming to an end, but G. ‘Seagull’ is still going strong. It’s hard to believe that the single flowering bulb I purchased for £20 in 2015 produced three blooms in 2016 and now eight in 2017. That feels like a good investment to me. Success with snowdrops, but not one single aconite from the clutch planted last year. Perhaps something ate the bulbs as the conditions should have been ideal for aconites. Clumps of blue Anemone blanda I planted at the same time have returned with gusto all over the garden; a surprise given our soggy soil. You win some and lose some in gardening, and often there’s no rhyme or reason to what survives and what perishes.


The first Anemone blanda bloom to open
The first Anemone blanda bloom opened today


An early night is on the cards, but not before I sort out an order for clematis to be sent to Broadstairs. These will line the path to our back door and provide company for a venerable old viticella named ‘Etoile Violette’. I am tempted to stick with viticella types as they flower at such a useful time in the summer and seem to tolerate draughty conditions. The forecast for the week ahead is for mild and wet weather, which should create perfect planting conditions for next weekend. You never know, I might have sobered up by then.

I’d love to hear what signs of spring you’ve noted in your own garden this weekend, and wish you a happy week ahead. TFG.


Ubiquitous Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' is already in full bloom
Ubiquitous Narcissus ‘Tête-à-Tête’ is already in full bloom



Categories: Bulbs, Flowers, Foliage, London, Plants, Weather

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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22 comments On "Signs of Spring"

  1. How you manage two gardens and a full time busy job is beyond me…what beauties you have produced too! My spring has been wet, muddy a sodden garden and an infestation of about 16 pheasants who have turned up daily to peck out all the Iris overwintering dahlias and generally turn everything into a mud bath…They are lovely birds but i hope they move off soon!! Bet you wished you hadn’t asked! 😉

    1. Hmmm, pheasants. Pretty to look at and good to eat, but a bit pesky in the garden. They used to strut around in my grandparents’ garden bold as brass too. Hope they find an alternative source of food and exercise soon!

  2. In flower in my Cornish garden to-day are iberis sempervirens, cyclamen, daffodils, primroses and primulas, bergenias, snowdrops, vincas white and blue, hyacinths, erysimum Bowle’s mauve, rosemary, anemones, erica carnea, erigeron karvinskianus, hellebores and some argyranthemums that I left outside all winter. The piece de resistance was seeing a peacock butterfly on Friday 3rd March – bliss! Aren’t we lucky to be gardeners?

  3. Here in the Emerald Isle Magnolia stellata is already flowering. Great result from your snowdrop, I am a keen snopdropper. Galanthus ‘Lady Moore’ is looking good here at present, but the majority have finished now. Daffodils are looking fantastic at present any my favourite at present are some of the small varieties, Narcissus eystettensis and Narcussiu asturiana. Hope the head is clearing.

    1. Yes, feeling much better now Mary. I think I’ll give my liver a rest for a day or two though, just to be on the safe side. I looked up all three plants you mention. Lovely choice. Just what one needs to brighten a gloomy day.

  4. Pure delight as always reading your blog and your photos are stunning. I have a similar list of plants flowering to those of Elaine174, here in my rain sodden, Warwickshire garden, although for reasons I do not understand the Hellebores have refused to do anything worthwhile this year. Never mind, I have heaps more daffodils than last year.

    1. That’s funny as I have the opposite. My daffs are very disappointing in London this year, with only the ones in pots doing well. Maybe a good feed will get your hellebores going again? I’m sure they are just going through a phase.

  5. Stunning photos of your hellebores. You mention clematis Etoile Violette which is my favourite and always guaranteed to produce long lasting blooms. The viticellas do tolerate all conditions in my garden. My daughter thought this clematis was called ‘A Twelve Year Let’!!

    1. How funny Sandra. Whatever the name, it’s a lovely clematis. I have invested in a couple more viticellas and a couple of C. texensis to vary the scene a bit. Happy you enjoyed the hellebores. The rain has been doing its best to flatten them all day, but to no avail.

  6. Love Love the hellebores…. beautiful! and those daffs are so so pretty. Just starting to see signs of bulbs appearing here as we now enter autumn. Dahlias still flowering well. Off to garden club tomorrow night to learn how to grow dahlias from seed, and am very much looking forward to that. The photos are beautiful Dan. Get those veggies happening!

    1. I used to grow a lot of dahlias from seed, mainly the little bedding types. I’ll be interested to hear what you learn. Growing anything from seed is rewarding, provided the foxes, pigeons and mice don’t get them first of course! You have much more exotic (and destructive) pests over there in Australia.

      I am toying with going to Sissinghurst next weekend as a treat. Him Indoors is skiing and we’re signing Christmas off on Wednesday (phew!) so I think I deserve a little indulgence.

  7. I have such fond memories of Sissinghurst and especially that lawn. I have dreams about it. Bit tragic that the lawn made such an impression given the exquisite plantings isn’t it. Yes, you should go and treat yourself. Glad you are in sign off mode, I till have a few weeks to go.

  8. I hope the head is improving! Dodging the showers at Rosemoor yesterday the hellebores are stunning and beautiful in masses, and several magnolias in bloom. In my garden my hellebores are in flower but not a patch on those at Rosemoor. We have dainty Narcissus pseudonarcissus everywhere, and primula and polyanthus self-seeders in all shades of pink, cream and white. I just let them get on with it and am aiming for a mass of spring colour similar to the planting in the Nut Plat at Sissinghurst before their plants succumbed to virus. Do go to Sissinghurst and let us know what it is like at this time of year,

    1. I think I will. I have been before in early spring and it’s lovely. I think this weekend is the first weekend Sissinghurst is open this year. Hopefully the gardens won’t be too busy. Must say, I’d be just as happy visiting Rosemoor. It’s been too long since I last visited.

      I love the sound of your polyanthus profusion. I like it when the reds and the yellows hybridise, resulting in all those funny puce and pale-pink variations.

  9. Walking in a (soft) rain shower is a very good cure for a hangover I’ve always found. Not that I have much need of it these days.
    Having been kindly gifted Impatiens omeiana last year I’m now itching to get out there and see if mine is sprouting too. It’s raining though. Maybe a glass or two of wine first?

    1. Indeed. It certainly took my mind off work …. and off everything else for that matter! I like that last hellebore too. It’s quite delicate looking …. and has produced many, many babies.

  10. Very well written, I also have grown primose yellow petals in my garden. The beauty of these plants makes me feel fresh every time, but unfortunately, it lost its beauty even after a proper care so will provide me guidance that how can I maintain its beauty?

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