The changing of the clocks makes an enormous difference to my enjoyment of the garden. Although the mornings have temporarily descended back into darkness, there is still light in the sky when I arrive home in the evening. Soon this will increase to broad daylight and by midsummer I’ll be able to enjoy the evening sun, with a gin and tonic in one hand and a watering can in the other. Longer days mean I can inspect the garden at both ends of the working day and enjoy pretty stretches of North Kent coastline and countryside on my daily commute into the Big Smoke. I already feel less like a nocturnal creature and far more free in mind and body. The months of complete darkness number only four, but what long, energy-sapping months they are.
I plan to leap into action over Easter, giving myself a demanding list of house and garden-related tasks to complete. I have deliberately not planned days out or accepted social invitations: there are jobs to be done and four days in a row is too precious to fragment. My list is unrealistic, of course, and so I already know that I will fail to tick everything off. It’s the intent that matters. The payback for all my hard work will come in few weeks’ time when I have trips to Cornwall and ….. wait for it ….. Disneyland Paris. But that’s another story, for another day.
Given the Easter forecast is not especially promising – four solid days of ‘light rain and breezy‘ according to BBC weather – I am planning to plonk myself in the workshop for a long spell of potting and sowing. I am guilty of keeping too many plants in pots that ought to be larger, both as a result of laziness and a lack of space. I have resolved to use fewer, larger containers this year, although I don’t honestly trust that I have the willpower to avoid cluttering the place up again. My gingers have outgrown their black plastic pots to such an extent that they have wildly distorted the flexible sides with their powerful roots. At a guess they will need cutting out of their containers and dividing, before replanting in something approximately the size of a dustbin: one of the many reasons I like exotic plants is their extraordinary vigour when they are happy with their lot. The gingers I over-wintered in the garage are still slumbering, whilst those I found space for indoors are already producing vigorous new shoots. With luck they will flower a bit earlier.
The scale of the task in hand will be increased by the arrival of my annual package from Living Colour Bulbs, which this year includes sultry Colocasia ‘Black Magic’, zany Caladium ‘Freida Hemple’, fiery Gloriosa rothschildiana and an exciting discovery, Begonia josephi. This is a new species with purplish-green leaves and sulphur yellow flowers which I am particularly looking forward to testing in my garden. Like most other begonias it will perform best with a little shade, regular watering and frost protection.
I sincerely hope there will be a few breaks in the rain, allowing me time to finish emptying the shed. Now I have the workshop I don’t need additional storage space, although I will miss the convenience of having my tools close at hand. On balance it will be a relief to rid myself of the sight of yet more grey-green weathered wood and replace it with abundant foliage. The space that the shed currently occupies will become part of a small border at some point in the future. Before I can go ahead with that plan a large quantity of rubble, bricks and paving need to be lifted and disposed of. Although I can feel my joints aching at the very thought of it, the good thing about throwing myself into chores is that everything else will be forgotten and I can truly live in the moment for the first time since Christmas. TFG.
Also on My Easter Weekend List:
- Cutting back rampant Holboellia latifolia
- Tidying, feeding and topdressing weatherbeaten Agapathus africanus
- Potting up lilies, dahlias and Eucomis bicolor
- Assembling my spring bulb theatre
- Starting off Colocasias, Caladiums and Gloriosas in a propagator (they like a bit of heat from below to get them going …. don’t we all?!)
- Sowing seeds of Geranium maderense and Iris domestica, among others
- Painting boundary panelling (weather permitting)
- Buying new plants
- Organising the greenhouse to make space for new plants
- Organising the garden room to make space for me!
Categories: Bulbs, Container gardening, Flowers, Foliage, Our Coastal Garden, Plants, Small Gardens, Weather
28 comments On "Living in the Moment"
That’s a quartet of rather exotic plants you’ve chosen Dan. I wouldn’t be able to grow any of them here! I hope you have good weather for Easter so you can complete all your tasks. Temps of 30C here for the next week, and the weather is perfect with cool nights at last. And we even had some rain!
That sounds very appealing Jane. We’re having a wet week all round here. Spring is dragging its feet. I thought I read somewhere that gloriosas have become a weed in some parts of Australia? Dan
Yes you’re right Dan, they are considered a weed here, although I don’t recall ever seeing them growing anywhere. If I had, I probably would have admired them!
Hopes the weather forecast is wrong and you have a productive weekend with your garden tasks!
I think we’re stuck on ‘light rain and breezy’! Never mind. I shall not be thwarted!!
Sounds like you have got a busy weekend ahead of you. I shall look forward to seeing how the new exotics do in your garden.
Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Hola from Northern California. I read your blog religiously and thought I should comment for a change. My gig right now is 15 minutes (minimum) of weeding daily when I get home from the awfice. Much can be accomplished in that short time and by the weekend I can address the Great Unplanted. There are many.
Greetings from rainy Northern Kent! I am so pleased you too the plunge and left a comment. I am happy to know I’m not the only one with a Great Unplanted!
P.S. I love your photographs of Lotusland and the Ruth Bancroft Garden. They’re to die for. Just what I needed to see on a dreary, early morning commute into London. Thank you. Dan
Ginger is an illegal alien here and I did a blog yesterday about Hedychium flavescens: https://wordpress.com/post/annsblog2015.wordpress.com/1740 I wish we could have even half the rain you are having but we have some forecast for tomorrow. We do not have daylight saving 🙂
Fortunately my gingers are all named, garden varieties and are highly unlikely to become rogues thanks to our cooler climate. I’ve not tried H. flavescens, although now you’ve shown it to me I want one! We have had a lot of rain this winter which is highly unusual in my part of the country (it’s normally quite dry) and yesterday we had a deluge. The snails all came out of hibernation which is not a good thing.
Great plant selection – mmm gloriosa! Looking forward to seeing how the colocasias perform in Kent.
Colocasias do fine for me provided they are well watered and well fed and sheltered from the wind. I like gloriosas because they scramble up over other plants and look incredibly impressive. Unfortunately slugs and snails also think so, meaning they need a certain amount of patrolling!
Pot selection looks promising. I have tried to grow Gloriosa r. twice over the years;no joy. Is a heated the propagator essential? Thanks for great reading …as usual!
Hi Nancy. Gloriosas like hot, humid conditions and warm nights. These are not typical in the UK as you know! When starting them off they like constant warmth, so a propagator is helpful. I only put them outdoors, in a sheltered spot, in June, when they are already well established. A little shade from the sun is preferred. Perhaps try again as they are such fabulous flowers. Dan
I really hope we get a run of dry weather soon! I have a Holboellia cariacea and Stauntonia to prune, a new hedgerow to plant and lots of seed sowing to accomplish. Once that’s all ticked off, I can think about liberating a few plants from pots – this is such a great time of year to get things done – weather permitting! What do you top dress your Agapanthus with? I have three, rescued from my mum’s garden before we sold the house, and would like to lavish some tlc on them.
This early in the year I’d give them blood, fish and bone to build them up a bit before restricting their diet to tomato food or specialist agapanthus food to encourage flowering. I’ll add some JI3 and grit to the tops of the troughs to fill any gaps where the compost has washed through and to improve drainage. Don’t over feed or let them have too much root space though. They like to be tight.
Did I read “buying new plants” on your list? Thought you had a few plants already 🙂 ?
Happy Easter, Dan! Really hope the forecast is wrong – we all could do with some nice weather now. Feels as if we’ve been robbed of a whole month to get stuff done, thanks to those late cold spells. Wishing you luck with your list!
As for fewer but bigger pots: have tried combining perennials in bigger pots, to avoid them drying out so quickly if kept individually in several smaller pots. Works for a season or so and then the inevitable happens: some taking over and crowding out the less robust, usually more precious ones. So you rescue the latter – and plant them all in their own small pots again… Wonder why there is less and less room to tread in my garden?
Have more or less given up caring about the welfare of the Agapanthus africanus: I hate plastic pots, but clay/ terracotta ones inevitably are burst by the plants’ roots and I simply can’t buy bigger and bigger pots nor hack them back/ divide with a saw and crowbar every other year. For the past two winters mine have had to fend without so much as the protective shell of a pot around many of their roots (i.e. where half of the pot had fallen off). I had hoped that would reduce their girth – outer roots turning mushy – but so far they seem not to have suffered. I know yours are in beds/ borders – but what do you topdress them with? Slow release fertilizer?
Hi Stefanie. I shall use John Innes No.3. It’s quite rich in nutrients and suitable for established plants. I may add extra grit too, although drainage isn’t a big issue. Given how badly damaged they’ve been by the cold I will give them a general feed with blood, fish and bone before I start regular watering with tomato food. I hope that by June I will not recall how shabby they look now.
Like you I don’t like to mix plants in pots. It never works for long and I like the ability to shift things around at will. Those articles that appear in The Garden every so often featuring artfully arranged pots of perennials are not something I subscribe to.
Meanwhile the forecast is looking up ever so slightly, but it’s not going to be a scorcher is it? I have already bought a few new plants, but I am trying to be quite targeted … ish. I’m a lost cause. Have a super Easter. What are you up to? Dan
Hi Dan, thanks for advice re Agapanthus!
Hope the weather was kinder in Broadstairs and you got on well with your list. In fact, on Saturday we almost passed by, as we went first to Reculver and then to Dover – day trip with the kids to the seaside (and actually yes, there was some sun). Other than that not much went on here (Sunday saw the obligatory egg hunt, of course) as we’ll be going away tomorrow visiting family and there’s always lots of laundry washing, packing, watering plants etc. before & the weather sure didn’t call us out of doors. Hope the snow will be gone though: my parents got 30cm within a few hours on Easter Sunday! Makes that (French?) proverb sound null and void: “Winter may seem to last forever, but in April there’ll be Easter.” Yes, but whatever happened to spring???
It seems that everyone who gardens wants to buy new plants. I have not done that in years. I can not accommodate all the plants that I propagate and grow.
Neither can I, but you are clearly way more sensible and controlled than I am. I just can’t help myself.
I am not all that sensible and controlled; just cheap.
Have a lovely weekend working through your list – fingers crossed the weather will play ball. We have planned two days for the garden (sorting out greenhouse for seed-sowing and general tidying up/mulching) and two days for family/friends 🙂
Sounds like a good balance. I suspect I will find four days solid a struggle, but I expect I shall stray up to the Food Festival once or twice. Enjoy yourself!
Happy Easter! I hope there will be a break in the rain for you…