Cásca i sa ghairdín

We were away for a week over the Easter break.  Whenever I return home (and truly, nil aon tinteán mar do thinteán fein) I am immeasurably grateful when: 1) the house is still standing and whole; 2) the garden isn't a complete disaster area; 3) I can still manage to pay all my bills.  Gratitude, hey?

We might get to take a break but the garden doesn't.  I arrived back to find the grass in desperate need of a cut along with roses beset by green fly (aphids) and weeds coming up throughout some of the beds.  It took me the better part of two days to knock it back into shape but hard work is good work and the effort has paid off.  The last big job I have now is to get more veg seeds sown in the planter boxes, which should happen later this afternoon.

I am absolutely smitten with aquilegias (columbines) which I've never had before but now have in flower boxes in the front garden.  The blooms and later seed heads are stunningly, delicately beautiful.  I'm told they are prolific self-seeders so I'm pinching off the seed heads at the moment to ensure more flowers, but will let them go later in the year.  Fun fact: aquilegias cross pollinate so the more colours you have, the more colour varieties you will get!

Aquilegia

Aquilegia, on left


Nothing quite matches all the flowering trees this time of year (sakura!).  The self-fertilising apple trees in the back garden are in bloom just after the white cherry tree has faded. The pink cherry tree in the front garden has also just come into full bloom.  The other (non-flowering) trees are starting to bud but not in leaf yet.  The maple I planted on the wee plot behind my house has done well although it receives a shocking amount of wind.

Apple Tree 1

Apple Tree 2

Pink Cherry Tree

Wee plot of land behind my house which I've adopted.  Maple tree in centre, surrounded by lavender, grasses, snow-in-summer and a few tulip bulbs. 

The tulips are in their third and last wave of flowering.  If you like Spring colour in the garden, I highly recommend planting narcissi, tulips and alliums.  Just as one is finishing the next comes into bloom and all together provide a great amount of colour over many weeks.

Dark purple tulips in bloom as white tulips are fading in back garden
Tulips and alliums growing together in front garden

Allium buds getting ready to bloom in front garden

As for pests, I did manage to buy and put out nematodes, which should keep the slug population in check for the moment.  Green fly (aphids) have beset the roses this year and I keep their numbers down by taking them off the roses and squishing them by hand.  I also suspect its beneficial having all the tulips - they attract green fly but don't seem to suffer any downside from them.  The green fly get trapped by the sticky substance on tulip petals and can't move off so double yay for tulips.

Its been unseasonably dry for this time of year and the soil in the veg beds is looking crumbly and hard.  It rained briefly earlier so I'm going to take advantage of that and try to get some seeds sown while the soil is a bit softer.  I'm exceptionally late in sowing peas this year but sure the last couple of years the later sowings I've done have fared the best so you never know.

Both peonies look to be doing well at this time and have achieved a good height (they are cut back to the ground each Autumn).  Most of the buds are double and triple buds - I should probably pinch off the smaller ones to focus energy on the largest bud but I don't know if I can bring myself to do it.  This is the first year I've seen widespread double and triple buds on one stem and I'm quite keen to see how they unfold come June.

Peony buses in front garden - growing & budding but no blooms until late May / June

As always, gardening takes a regular look at what is and isn't currently working.  At the moment I'm very happy with the miniature pansies which are self-seeding all over the place and the blue and black primrose plants I found a few weeks ago.

Self-seeding miniature pansies behind a rose bush 

Blue and black variety primrose

Unfortunately, one of my beloved heucheras upped and died at the end of winter.  I suspect the wild grass in the same planter is crowding every thing else out.  For the moment I've put cyclamen in the planters as they don't need much root space and should do well in the shade but we'll see.  These planters definitely need a bit of something but I'm not sure what will be able to survive with the grasses.  I replanted the remaining heuchera in the back garden border and it seems to be doing well.  Its chocolate colour amongst the green works surprisingly well.

Wild grass looks great & gives great structure but is crowding out everything else. 
As much as I should be turning my attention to the hard structures of the garden and finally adding trellising I have continued to add to the garden plants.  A few weeks ago I planted two boysenberry seedlings which won't fruit this year but will fruit the following years.  I've also just ordered some bleeding hearts and Chinese lanterns, both of which I've had my eye on for some years now.  They'll definitely make the garden a more interesting space!

So.  Its time to get the trowel out and get down to brass tacks.  Happy seed sowing, each and every one.

Update 23 April: Seeds finally sown! Well, I've got two planter boxes sown with seeds.  The first, in the front garden is sown with sunflowers (red and giant yellow), tomatoes, sweetcorn, cucumbers, mixed salad greens and peas.

Veg bed 1

The second, in the back garden, is now sown with rocket (arugula), baby gem lettuce, spring onions, kale and cabbage.

Veg bed 2
The final planter box, which already contains two rows of early potatoes, will be planted with spinach, over wintering leeks and more kale.

Sin é! Once the seeds are established I'll be adding some herbs to the mix.  Also looking forward to the borage I planted last year flowering this summer.

Borage in terra cotta planters at back. 

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