Great Haseley and District Horticultural Society - April 2018


As I write we are suffering our third snowfall of the winter.

Most winters we don’t really get snow at all and I can’t say I miss it now I am reaching a certain age and snow becomes more than an inconvenience.  Even my young grandson declared the last lot of snow simply too cold after a few days! We awoke to a couple of inches and I have been surprised by its rapid disappearance today despite the temperature remaining stubbornly below zero and there not being any sun; I have put it down to the ground being relatively warm after a few nice spring days.  On Friday I noted that the temperature was 10C in the early evening and enjoyed the happy spring birdsong while thinking how sad they were going to be in the snow that was forecast for Saturday.  Indeed, the temperature dropped to below zero overnight, the effect of the arrival of a cold front.

This snow has slowed down my gardening activity yet again.  The clearing of old growth is almost complete and weeding and division of perennial plants were well underway this week.  Once again, I have had to remove a lot of the yellow flowered Phlomis russeliana which is ever threatening to take over the garden.  Somehow every year it seems to expand its territory without me noticing, but I enjoy its presence in the garden and so will not get rid of it all.  As a trouble-free (other than its world domination aspirations), attractive, flowering perennial, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Prior to the snow two weeks ago, we were troubled by the sad appearance of the Italian cypresses which had splayed out due to the heavy snow in December.  Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of a newspaper article by Helen Yemm which was brought to my attention by a friend, thank you, Philippa.  It seems that, while they are thought to be unsuitable in the British climate, in Italy they are tightly clipped from a young age so their branches do not get too long; I had never before read that this was necessary and perhaps our success rate in this country would be improved simply by a change of management.  My better half set to with his long-handled tree pruners and reduced their height and slimmed them down leaving them looking neat and tidy (the bits were spread a long way on the ground and I am still trying to collect them!); this was completed just in time and I am pleased to report that the last two lots of snow have left them untouched.

I potted up Violas in the autumn hoping for some spring flower, but the repeated snow and rain has left them looking rather sad.  It seems too late to plant more so I am just hoping they will perk up with the warmer weather or it will be the compost heap for them.  Next year I will wait until spring to plant them.  I am pleased that the tulips are progressing well despite the poor weather and daffodils are a cheering presence throughout the bad weather along with our wild primroses which have seeded extensively; these latter bring me endless pleasure every time I see them!

It is time to think about seed sowing if you have not already done so.  I love reading seed and plant catalogues and, somehow, it is just not the same looking on websites.  I always seem to end up buying too many, but they get sown eventually apart from parsnip seed which have to be very fresh to get a good germination rate.  I like to try something new every year and this year I have managed to buy some Persicaria orientalis which, despite its height and exotic appearance, is actually a hardy annual.  Unfortunately, I didn’t read up about its management and have discovered the seed needs a period of cold to break its dormancy so I have put the packet in the fridge and will give it a few weeks before I sow it and hope that this improves its germination rate; it would have been better to sow it in the autumn and allow winter frost to do the job.

Take some time to enjoy the spring flowers and the birds, especially if the sun shines.

Liz Moyses

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