In the garden: March

So, after 3.5 years living here, we’ve finally – finally – landscaped and planted the garden. Hurrah! I’ll show you proper photos next month as it’s still all looking a bit bare and unimpressive while the plants establish, but in the meantime, here’s a little look at some of the recent additions to our little patch of turf.

On a sunny Friday at the end of Feb, we hired a van and drove to a plant nursery in Surrey. I’m still beside myself with excitement about the brilliant trade prices I’m now eligible for as a trainee garden designer, and wandering round a nursery stuffed full of plants, feeling the first of the Spring sunshine on my face, was pretty much my idea of heaven.

Lots of what I bought is nothing more than a small mound of leaves at the moment, but these are the ones with something to show right now…

corkscrew hazelcatkin

I’ve been obsessed with corkscrew hazels (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) for a good few years now and couldn’t pass up the chance to have one in my own garden. The twisting stems look rather Tim Burton-esque to me (in a good way) and then there’s the delights of all the catkins in Spring and hazelnuts in Autumn.

Euphorbia myrsinitesEuphorbia myrsinitesEuphorbia myrsinitesEuphorbia myrsinites

Also a huge obsession, though a more recent one, since my visit to Beth Chatto’s garden last year, is this incredible Euphorbia myrsinites. Those grey spiky leaves, lime green flowers and flowing stems are just quite spectacular as far as I’m concerned. I’ve planted a couple of other euphorbias, too, which will hopefully be in full flower by next month.

Chionodoxa forbesii

The famous wallflower is still going strong (no photos this month, since I’ve shared them a gazillion times) and clustered around its base, a flurry of bright blue bulbs have come up: Chionodoxa forbesii, that I planted last year and I had completely forgotten about. There is something magical about bulbs, the way they pop up and down, year after year, and you can never quite remember what is going to come up where. (Or is that just me?!) These blue beauties are a welcome sight, though I think the slugs and snails agree with me, since their leaves (as you can see) are almost always bitten off, and I often find whole flowers disappear overnight.

ipheion alberto castillo ipheion alberto castillo

I’m hoping these new ipheion (‘Alberto Castillo’) will do just as well. I grabbed them from the nursery on an impulse as they were looking so stunning, and I was pleased to then find them recommended by Dan Pearson as one of his all time top plants in Gardens Illustrated later in the month. They’re very beautiful, with their long stems and white star-shaped flowers, striped down the middle with a faint line.

Stachys byzantina

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I can’t resist plants with fluffy leaves. So it is, the garden is heaving with Salvia argentea (which is a bit ratty looking to show you at the moment) and the lamb’s ear above (Stachys byzantina), which looks especially fantastic when it catches dew in the morning.

Stipa tenuissimaMiscanthus sinensis

I’ve also added a few grasses. The beautiful Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), above top, which glows in the sunlight and waves around in the wind in a most fantastic way. I might have to try and take a video sometime. And some brilliant miscanthus, to provide huge seed heads throughout the winter.

Blossom

Finally, a blossom shot, hooray! Not, actually, a tree in my garden, but from my neighbour’s. Spring is so very, very nearly here.

Joining in, as ever, with Annie and How does your garden grow.

In the garden: February

Magnolia stellata | Wolves in LondonSlipping in, just in time, on this fabulous extra day of the year to share some photos of the February garden, taken throughout this month.

If you were to look at a year in gardening, February would be the month of planning. Reading the seed catalogues, choosing the fruit and veg for the year ahead, deciding about changes to make in the garden and – above all – checking the air for signs of imminent Spring.

In the garden itself, not much is new in February. And this is especially true this year with the unseasonably warm Winter meaning that all my Spring plants put their heads above soil last month in January. But everything is looking that little bit more wonderful.

magnolia flower

The magnolia flowers are almost all fully unfurled, their petals luxuriating in the odd day of sunshine. The daffodils are bobbing about in the windowboxes, shaking off early morning raindrops and enjoying the lighter evenings.

Daffodil bud daffodil flower water on daffodil water sroplet

Buds are everywhere: on the cherry tree in the front garden and the apple and pear in the back. The acer is showing signs of bursting into leaf any time soon. And the catkins from next door are drooping over the fence…

Catkins

Spring, we’re ready and waiting for you.

Frosty mornings and blue skies

Plane on a winters day | Wolves in London

I do love an overnight frost and sun the next day. If only for the amazing ice shapes you can get out in the garden.

Cracked ice | Wolves in London

Frozen leaf | Wolves in LondonFrozen bubbles | Wolves in London

I snapped a few last weekend, delirious with excitement to see the sunshine. (While the poor old hubby was working away on the pond removal job…)

A few apples failed to fall off the trees and are just hanging on and rotting away. They’re irresistible to the parakeets from the park, who swing by, shrieking away, and grab a few bites, before retiring to a neighbour’s birch tree, which is their preferred resting place. We should probably count ourselves lucky they don’t like to perch here.

Rotting apples | Wolves in London rotting apple rotting applesIn the beds, my hardy old wallflower (Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’) is still putting out new flowers, even now in December. The Mexican daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus) are hanging on strong too; they’ve increased hugely over the last year and are dripping over the low stone wall looking as wonderful as I had imagined they would.

Wallflower | Wolves in London Mexican fleabane | Wolves in London

We’re taking the opportunity of the pond removal to get rid of an old, brown, shaggy, overgrown conifer that was planted behind it, and the great streams of ivy that were growing up it. We’ve battled ivy before, and I know now that the only possible answer is glysophate on the stump, but I really hate to use chemicals in the garden. Still, it’s either that or spend the rest of our weekends endlessly cutting it back in the hope it finally gives up.

It’s great for the birds, of course, and I love the look of the amazing seedheads, but it soon gets a stranglehold and kills off all its neighbours.

Ivy berries | Wolves in London

The magnolia in the front garden already has those adorable fluffy buds, and it reminds me that soon enough Spring will be here once again. I’m not really a fan of winter, I realise as I get older. I love the clear, crisp, blue sky days, of course, and the rare moment of snow, but the lack of sunshine really gets me down and I feel increasingly lethargic and sluggish as weeks pass by with only grey skies and rain. I’m sure it’s something to do with age, I don’t remember giving two shits about lack of sunshine in my 20s. I was probably too busy going out drinking in trendy clubs and sleeping in late. Sigh.

Magnolia buds | Wolves in London