Saturday, 31 March 2018

Six on Saturday - Waiting in the garden

Six on Saturday The Green Fingered Blog
Gardens have a habit of keeping you in suspense. Here are six things I'm waiting for in my garden right now...







Anyone who spends time gardening will soon find themselves wondering if something's going to happen, or when. This element of uncertainty created by nature is all part of the fun, and what makes it addictive. I can't help wanting to go out there to see if whatever it is I'm expecting to happen has happened yet. 

This expectation simultaneously creates excitement and frustration. On the one hand nature is fairly reliable - seeds will germinate, things will grow, plants will flower. This allows us to look forward with confidence as we anticipate these things in the knowledge we will enjoy them when they arrive.

On the other hand, nature remains just unpredictable enough and sufficiently unable to be tamed, that we feel we cannot take anything for granted. Plants also die, and may not flower when expected, or turn out to be a different colour from what we thought.

For all the control we exert over our garden, we remain at the whim of the weather, the climate, plant genes, the nature of the earth and environment around us. Whilst we can influence things we can't ultimately force anything to happen, we can only encourage, hope and wait.

What on earth am I on about? Well here are six examples of things I'm currently waiting for in my garden.    


Proper spring weather

Our expectation is that spring brings warm sunshine and we can start planting outside and stop protecting things from frost. This year, March brought snowdrifts and sub zero temperatures normally associated with January in this part of the world. 

Everything has been held back a couple of weeks as plants remain dormant for longer, or suffered damage and have been set back after getting started before the cold snap.  


Even as we enter April, it's pretty chilly. I'm waiting for it to get warmer before sowing more seeds, or planting out things like sweet peas, which for now are waiting patiently in the coldframe for the chance to get into the garden proper. 

Seedlings in the coldframe Green Fingered Blog
Seedlings in the coldframe

Clematis


I have four different clematis around the garden. March has been so cold that some early shoots were killed off. They are getting going again so now I'm waiting to see if they can survive the onslaught by the slugs. Last year was pretty disastrous - two out of four were totally ruined and barely reached flowering stage, so I'm being more vigilant this year and hoping for a better display.

Clematis shoots Green Fingered Blog
This clematis looks triumphant, but it's early yet...

Frogspawn


Last week I made a pond! A very small one, with the aim of providing just enough of a water feature to attract some additional wildlife to hang around in the garden. The whole project was done in a day and cost just £21! I'll be writing about how I did it soon. 

In particular, it would be really good to have some frogs or toads eating lots of slugs (see clematis above) so I transferred a jar full of frogspawn from another pond nearby and released it into ours. 

It disappeared under the water rather than float so I have no idea whether it will remain viable. I'm waiting to see if any tadpoles appear, or whether other frogs discover our little patch of water and decide to stay. 

Frogspawn Green Fingered Blog
Frogspawn

Hawthorn


My hawthorn is now several years old and has yet to produce a single flower. It is starting to unfurl it's new growth again now so what is becoming an annual ritual of looking for them has begun again. I haven't pruned it this year so I see no reason why it won't produce flowering shoots. The scent, and later the berries, would be a wonderful addition to the mini woodland area I have so I am really hoping it will finally produce.  

Hawthorn (Crataegus) Green Fingered Blog
Hawthorn (Crataegus)

Japanese cherry


This is Prunus incisa "Koja no mai". It has just started flowering, and already brightening up the oriental part  of the garden, but I am waiting for it to reach its peak. When it's in full bloom it looks like a white hazy cloud hovering above the ground. It just takes a bit of time.
Japanese cherry Prunus incisa Green Fingered Blog
Prunus incisa (Japanese cherry)

Tulips


Nothing says "April" in the garden more than tulips, but at the end of March we have this subtle, teasing, hint of colour on the outside, before they open in a week or two. You can see they're getting ready to show off their true splendour, but not yet! 

You can look as many times as you want but they will decide when they open, not you. We can plant them and look after them, but ultimately, nature has at least as much control over them as we do, which is why we end up watching, and waiting.  

 Green Fingered Blog

This post is part of a link up: Six on Saturday, organised by The PropagatorVisit his site to have a nose at loads of other people's gardens. I'll be back soon with more from my garden. 

If you're growing your own fruit and veg, make sure you check out my posts from The 80 Minute Allotment - just click on the tab at the top of this post, or subscribe for regular updates on growing your own in under two hours a week.

12 comments:

  1. My "last frost date" based on 25 years' worth of records (and the average of the various web sites that calculate for you) is two weeks away but I have some doubts this year. Not that I can get on with planting out as the ground is still too wet to walk on. My Kojo has barely started flowering and isn't worthy of inclusion in my six yet. Tulips are also some way behind yours. I'm wondering why as you've generally had it much colder than here. I'll be interested to see how your frogspawn experiment turns out. Froglife advise against trying and, rather, letting nature take its course. It took the frogs one winter to find my pond after I made it. Where they came from, who knows as none of the neighbours has a pond and the nearest river is a large field away. Numbers have grown year-on-year and it's not unusual to count over 20 at any time once the annual orgy commences.

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    1. I share your doubts on the frost front John, it was 3C here first thing today and never got above 8C. Feels like it could easily dip to zero any time. We are quite sheltered in our little valley here by Castell Coch so that might explain the progress my garden has managed, who knows. I usually worry more about persistent wet than anything else, but this cold month has definitely taken its toll. I think you're probably right on the frogspawn, I am not that optimistic but couldn't resist trying, the timing was perfect. We've had frogs visit the garden before, so in the long run I'm sure they will be back, i was trying to speed things up. Apparently they only really come to the water to breed and spend the rest of the time away from it, but do like it damp. That's one thing my garden almost always is, so we should see a few sooner or later!

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    2. I created a small woodland area behind the pond which is now piled fairly deep with stones, logs and bark chips as hiding places. I'm careful when tending that and usually do so with hands or using small tools as I regularly find frogs having a nap there. They do have their orgies in the water but retire to a safe distance for a nap afterwards. They don't seem to go far from the pond. They are often in it but underwater and I only come across them if I disturb their slumber in the pond mud when I'm clearing out the leftovers after iris and wotnot stop flowering. Interestingly frogs, like snakes, are warm to the touch and not as slimey as people think. I also have bats in my cavity but that's another matter. Wildlife is wonderful. The resident squirrels have distinct characters and names now. Resident fox hasn't appeared this year and as it's so late I think has snuffed it. Resident cat, who enjoyed playing with him, will have to find a new friend. I will be happy as (I hope) you don't know how long it takes to eradicate a smell after a fox curls up for a nap behind the sofa.

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    3. Wow your garden sounds like a full on menagerie of animals! We have a stream which had some small trout last year, mayflies and a dragonfly. A hedgehog would be nice but they would find it tricky to get into our garden. I've put a hog house at the allotment hoping they'll find that. IN the garden I'll settle for a few slug-hungry toads or frogs along with everything else, and I'll be happy.

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  2. My Prunus Incisa is not ready but maybe next week ... As you said, it took time to settle down. I'm interested in your frogspawn transfer. ( I have a pond with only a frog but no tadpoles now)

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    1. Well you need at least one more frog in order to have frogspawn Fred!! ;) I dare say it's only a matter of time. I don't know that the transfer will work. No real reason why it shouldn't but as i wrote, you cant control everything - nature will do what it wants sometimes. I'll keep you posted though.

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  3. Good luck with the frogspawn! I don't have a pond on my allotment, but we do end up with toads overwintering under the soil.... which makes digging the allotment in the spring a nerve-wracking experience if you unearth a toad you weren't expecting to see!

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    1. Oooh! Don't like the sound of that. I'm normally only worried about slicing a hogweed root in two! Didn't know toads did that. I've had a few frogs make me jump at the allotment when they've been sat along the edge of the plot and suddenly hop away as i move close to them while i'm weeding.

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  4. I read somewhere that frog spawn can rise or sink w/changes in the weather. Hopefully yours sunk as a survival tactic & will rise again in the near future. That tulip is so tantalising!

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    1. Isn't it just! It would be easy to overlook it until it opens but your garden rewards you for paying closer attention i think.
      Hope you're right about the frogspawn, I feel more optimistic now, it's good to know it might not be abnormal after all. I'm worried that with less surface weed than in the pond they came from, that might be why they could stay on the surface if they needed to. Just have to wait and see...

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  5. Nice cold frame Paul! My last frost date is around mid May although usually safe enough from start of may.

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    1. It's a pretty ramshackle construction tbh - I don't even have a GCSE in woodworking. I can work out how to put things together, but don't usually end up doing it very securely - everything is always just a little bit off centre/out of line etc and the overall effect ends up a bit wonky - rank amateur. Nowhere near as proficient as yourself from seeing your own effort at a coldframe - looked much better! Mine is still there after several years though, and that's all that really matters I suppose.

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