Its that time again, when Helen (aka Patient Gardener) hosts the End of Month View meme and we get to check out progress on one another’s patches. Check out Helen’s blog and follow the links in the comments if you are as nosy as I am. Better yet, join in! I love staring over the fence at other people’s gardens, and also find it a really useful discipline, taking a regular and critical look at specific areas in my own patch.

No prizes for guessing what the star of the show is in the magnolia bed.

Magnolia stellata tree

The Magnolia stellata is still smothered in blooms, and is still wafting heady scent across the garden. There are more bees about now too, although I’m not sure they get much satisfaction – the magnolias evolved to be pollinated by beetles. I don’t know if this means the pollen is impossible to reach for the bees, but it certainly isn’t stopping them visiting, which is a welcome sign that it really is spring now.

Magnolia stellata bloom

Magnolia stellata with dead bits

I promise not to take up the entire post with pictures of the magnolia, but as you can see from the white confetti under the tree in the top picture, and the dead flower sharing a branch with the fresh bloom above, the show will soon be over.

Magnolia stellata buds and leaves

Leaves now appear with the buds, and flowers are dying as quickly as new ones open. I should have another week at least, but by next GBBD it will be looking rather tatty.

There’s still plenty of other things to enjoy though.

Anenome blanda

Anenome blanda has been wonderful, and we are determined to plant more in the autumn to surround the base of the magnolia, we love the contrast between the white and the deep blue – even if some of it is coming from rogue white bulbs! I also love the deep magenta of the honesty which has just started flowering, I just wish I had managed to keep more than just two plants alive. I will be sowing more for next year, and hoping it self seeds too.

Veronicastrum Spring Growth

The Veronciastrum that I moved from the pond bed last year is throwing up beautiful new leaves.

Phlox stolonifera 'Blue Ridge'
Ladybird On Hydrangea quercifolia leaf

I also have the excitement of new plants – three Phlox stolonifera ‘Blue Ridge’, planted to fill in the gaps left when the daffodils have finished, already throwing up flower spikes. This really is a Spring border, but I am delighted to see healthy new growth bursting out on the Hydrangea quercifolia that I feared I might have lost – and the ladybird that seems to be happily asleep in the still-folded leaf.

It’s not all good news though – we lost the Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’. I think that if we hadn’t pruned it back last Spring it might have survived, plenty have around here, but we now have a large gap to fill between the trunk of the magnolia and the front of the border:

Bare Patch In Magnolia Bed

I bought an Aster divaricatus with a view to putting it in here, but FIL is hoping to retire within the next 12 months, at which point we will be starting to work out where we are going to move to. Since we won’t have much money for plants I am loathe to “waste” such a beauty, and am thinking about putting it in a pot instead so that we can take it with us. I do have an Achillea ‘Cassis’ which might fit in rather well, and lots of hardy geraniums.

In the pond bed there are lots of signs of spring growth too.

Dicentra In Bud
Tulips In Bud

It will be a while before the Dicentra bursts into bloom, but the tulips are getting closer every day – this one is ‘Ballerina’, a wonderfully elegant deep orange.

Spring Growth

Further round, the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is shooting up leaves, and the Astrantia major ‘Shaggy’ that I divided last year is pushing through strongly too.

All of which gives a completely false view of the pond bed. Amazing what a few close-ups and a bit of careful cropping can do…

Isolated Tulips

Those tulips sit in splendid isolation, looking, quite frankly, daft. The candelabra primulas I hoped would be spraying jewel-like colour around the pond’s edge all died – though gardening SIL has offered to bring me up some of hers in a few weeks. I have some lovely hardy geraniums (Geranium magnificum) that I plan to plant around the edge of the pond, and which will help conceal the dreadful sight of the dying tulip foliage – and make them look less isolated – but I am also wondering about just moving the tulips to the greenhouse border. I lost my perennial wallflowers, which I loved but MIL hated, so there is space there amongst purple tulips and acid green euphorbia, which I think could look rather lovely. None of which helps conceal the fact that this is very much a “work in progress”.

Preparing for grass removal
Part Dug Over

Earlier in the week I managed to dig out the Molinia cearulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Windspiel’ that I had decided needed to go last year. Its at times like this that I find the gravel mulch a severe pain in the posterior. To dig anything out, or plant anything, let alone improve the soil, it all has to be carefully brushed away. Its expensive stuff, and over time rather more than I would like has found its way into the bed itself, a very expensive way to improve drainage on the heavy clay! At least this time I had a relatively large area to work in, though I did take the precaution of digging up and potting the two Verbena bonariensis plants that were just starting to shoot. Which is all very well, but I shouldn’t have been able to do this! There was supposed to be a graceful ribbon of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ threading its way across the border, just emerging now amongst the aquilegias, to be replaced later by an airy sinuous screen of Sanguisorba tenuifolia. The latter may yet happen, but the former never germinated, the first time I have failed with these seeds. But hey, that’s gardening, and I do have this:

Aconitum 'Spark's Variety' foliage

Aconitum ‘Spark’s Variety’, beautifully set off by the (partially replaced) gravel. Which shouldn’t have popped up as a separate post yesterday by the way – a technical glitch. Oh, OK, a bit of incompetence on my part, rushing to finish some tweaks.

So there you have it, my End of Month View. Can’t wait to see what other people have been up to…

51 thoughts on “End of Month View: March 2011

  1. Until I read Helen’s post last evening I’d forgottena all about the end of the month review, I’ll post later in the day. I know exactly what you mean about mulching with gravel, I have the same problem in parts of my garden. The same applies if you use a weed suppressant membrane with any kind of mulch over it; to plant or do anything to the soil is always a mammoth task. When your Magnolia fishishes my wisteria should be blooming. Christina

    1. I always smile wryly now when I read recommendations about using weed suppressant membrane under gravel to cut down on the work – cut down?!

      I shall take solace in the loss of my magnolia blooms in pictures of your wisteria, birds allowing. Look forward to seeing your EOMV.

  2. Oh I love looking at other peoples gardens – thank you for sharing yours. Gravel gardens are a favourite of mine. Denmans Gardens in Fontwell near Chichester is a gravel garden and full of ideas. Lots of euphorbias and grasses, not to mention self-seeds all over the place. I have lost my dicentra this year which is a shame.

    1. Hi Ronnie. Its funny, I never think of myself as having a gravel garden, to me those are always dry sunny places, almost the reverse of mine! Sorry about your dicentra.

  3. I too think your Magnolia Stellata is still the star of the show, so beautiful, and it’s nice to see a full shot of it, it really shows it in all it’s glory.

    1. Hi Jo. It literally stops us in our tracks sometimes when we walk into the kitchen. It stands just outside the window, and particularly as the light starts to go it has the same brilliant glow that you get from deep snow.

  4. That magnolia is really really lovely Janet – nice to see all the lovely waking up going on at your place – so sorry about the pittosporum…

    1. Hi Cyndy, the pittosporum isn’t quite the loss it might seem – it had grown into a terrible shape due to un-pruned shrubs surrounding it crowding it out (I should have held a shrubbish inquisition a little earlier!). So we pruned it to try and get it to recover a decent shape but it looked awful and was going to take years to get back to looking lovely.

  5. March has been good to your garden. So much beauty has graced it. We are having snow and it is covering up all our tiny shoots. Alas, one day soon I will be able to have an end of the month showing of something but snow. I was out on sunny Wednesday with the camera and got zilch. I almost titled a post ‘Buds are Boring’, standing there looking at a shoot a half an inch tall. LOL You got a lady beetle!!! I was searching for one insect and only saw a few worms.

    1. Oh Donna! Even you must be getting fed up of all that snow now! Hope your shoots survive and the snow goes away – but not too quickly, melt water must be pretty hard to handle too!

  6. Our tulips and mini daffodils are getting a battering today courtesy of the strong winds so I hope your magnolia isn’t suffering too much

    1. Hi Sue, fortunately the garden is a bit sheltered – I went up to the allotment, got out of the van, and was nearly blown over! The covering of petals on the ground is a bit deeper though. Hope your bulbs bounce back – tulips don’t take too kindly to being flattened by a gale.

    1. Happy to share! Even happier about the hydrangea, I love that plant.

  7. I’m glad you say your ladybird is sleeping. When I looked out of the window a few moments ago I saw mine is in the same place as it was yesterday and assumed it had died. I’ll now listed for snores.


    1. Oh Esther, I hope just soundly asleep! Maybe if you listen very carefully…

  8. Glad you are not the only one to admit being nosy. :) I have to be careful when I’m driving to keep my eyes on the road and not wander off into trying to peek into other’s gardens.

    And really, the magnolia SHOULD be the star of the show. I am glad you posted as many photos of it as you did. I can very nearly smell it through the computer screen. :)

    1. I can just see you weaving around craning your neck – I’m the same! I also get distracted in the middle of TV programmes, much to the despair of TNG.

    1. Hi Jennifer, thank you, I do love the magnolia, its flowering is one of the highlights of my gardening year.

  9. I have extreme garden envy – nowt in mine up yet – but the willow hedge is budding! Maybe one month I can have something to share = love yours though – I’m still window sill gardening here unfortunately. But the daffs on the track are up :)

    Wonderful magnolia – sniff – they we’rent quite out at RBGE when I was there last week but they were coming!

    Great stuff and exciting!!

    1. Hi Fay, just saw your lovely daffs in full bloom, such a welcome sight, real “happy” plants. Sorry you missed the magnolias at RBGE. Do, please, join in on the EOMV so that we can see your willow hedge growing and the rest of your garden taking shape? Half the fun is watching the transformations…

      I miss having willow to cut for weaving into plant supports etc. Next garden perhaps…

  10. Beautiful magnolia – I’m with Hanni re. almost being able to take in its heavenly scent through your lovely pictures. Your suggestion of planting more anenome blanda around the base of the magnolia sounds great (rogue bulbs and all!) The blues, whites, and magenta honesty are a stunning combination!

    1. Thank you Anne, I am hoping to sow next year’s honesty this weekend, I didn’t expect the colour to be so wonderfully intense and am now hooked!

  11. love to read how your garden is progressing….we used to have gravel mulch at our old house and it was a pain to plant or remove anything established…I have gone for the natural wood mulch here but I do like the stone mulch for appearance and keeping weeds down especially when you use the planting fabric under it…

    1. Hi Donna, doesn’t planting fabric make it even harder to dig up and move things? Though I can see that moving the mulch would be easier, and it wouldn’t get “lost” in the soil.

      1. It does make it harder Janet so you would only use it for landscaping you pan not to fuss with…of course I didn’t know that and had a devil of time with it

  12. I wouldn’t mind a bit if you dedicated the entire post to the magnolia tree! I love it and the way the petals have created a snow effect underneath the tree – just beautiful!

  13. You and I have some of the same plants!! I knew I liked you! LOVE the magnolia. :o) Not much going here, except for lots of daffodils. I have lots of aster divarcatus. Great, tough little plant. Takes dry shade and looks wonderful flopping around and in between blue ceratostigmata (blue plumbago).

    1. :-) We clearly both have wonderdul taste… Had to look up blue plumbago – do you grow Ceratostigma willmottianum or Ceratostigma plumbaginoides? Looks as if the former is too tender for my current garden and the latter too invasive, but I do love the idea of the mix of white and blue together, will look forward to pics of that combination in your garden come Autumn.

  14. Your magnolia is FAB! Not only are the flowers very, very beautiful, the whole thing is a great shape… I’m very envious!

    1. Hi Kate, I’ll pass on your comments about the lovely shape to FIL, he gets the credit for that, he is an excellent pruner!

  15. Your Magnolia looks beautiful. I have made a note of the Phlox – looks ideal for hiding bulb foliage.
    I rather like the ability of digital photography to make every thing look good :-)

    1. Judicious camera usage combined with cropping can make things look so much better – and I’m not averse to showing my garden in a good light – but I do get better help on issues I am grappling with if I show the real thing in all its gory detail, piles of compost bags, unshredded prunings and weeds included!

  16. Wow, that is the first time my name has been shortened, must be the number of characters in the field, I usually introduce myself as ar Kilbourne Grove (the name of my house).
    I sympatize with your moving dilemma, I have gone through that a number of times and usually dig up my favs to move on. However, my last move was to England, so could not do anything about that. I hope the new owners enjoyed all my precious. When I returned to canada, had to start again=expensive.
    Thank you for showing the landscape view as well as your brilliant closeups, I love to see the ‘full’ picture of peoples gardens, and to many times they don’t show them, just pretty pictures of what is in flower.

    1. Hi Deborah, sorry you were truncated! I’m torn between hoping that we sell to keen gardeners who will appreciate the plants I love and take the garden on, and hoping for the reverse so that I can dig up loads of things with impunity because they want to put in a large lawn! Glad you appreciate the landscape view, I’m the same, I always like to have a good idea of the context for all the pretty flowers. Thanks for dropping by!

  17. Your magnolia is magnificent! It definitely is the star of the show, although it looks like it will have some competition soon. I like your comment about close cropping–I’m anxious to show off my tulips when they start blooming, but they will all be close-ups, too. My visions of a whole flowerbed filled with tulips never quite turn out–more like little islands of them here and there:)

    1. Hi Rose, we do owe a lot to the wonders of digital photography and the attendant software packages. Look forward to seeing your tulips!

  18. Janet your garden is coming on leaps and bounds. Like everyone else I love your Stellata, especially as it has developed in to a tree form rather than the shrubs which I more often see. You will hate leaving this one behind. Five years ago we decided it was time for a change and put down the retainer deposit on a new house. Well it was getting time for the move and surprise surprise we changed our minds, I had lifted dozens of plants which we wanted to keep.

    1. Hi Alistair, I can see me pressing the allotment into service as temporary home for my favourite plants while I fill the gaps in with annuals etc… Still, its a while off yet, so I will enjoy this place while I can. The asters are definitely going in pots though…

  19. I lost the top of my Pittosporum Tom Thumb, I’m hoping it will recover somehow! Gorgeous photos Janet x

    1. Hi Karen, for some reason that conjured up visions of a bandaged thumb… Hope it recovers, they are lovely plants.

  20. The Magnolia blossoms are incredible! When they bloom, spring has really arrived. I noticed the buds are breaking here, so it won’t be long. Wish I had a Magnolia in my garden! Enjoy!

    1. Incredible is the word – and each year it just gets better and better. Am definitely enjoying it!

  21. Hope that your glorious magnolia has not been battered about by the winds Janet. It’s an absolute beauty. You will be sad to leave that behind you when you move. Is your aster diveraticus big enough to go in the ground for now and then you could divide it/lift it nearer to moving? I am sure that there will be other goodies going with you :)

    1. Hello Anna. There is certainly more white confetti on the ground under the Magnolia than there had been, but fortunately there are still lots of unopened buds, so the show goes on!

      I’d been wondering about the Aster, and you are right, it wouldn’t be the only thing to get dug up come The Move, which could still be a year off anyway! Decisions, decisions…

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