clearing the way for Spring

After months of winter rain, the mostly mild and dry month has meant that I’ve been back gardening with a capital G.  I love this time of year best, with all the tidying, cutting back, fertilising and planting jobs that give the satisfying before and after effect of a Spring clear-up. Although, watching a blackbird take away some dry Hosta leaves has me consciously avoiding OCD tendencies. She has built a nest in the ivy I meant to cut back – another lesson learned.

april courtyard garden
the container garden

The container garden above is one that changes with the season. Now the daffs and ‘Christmas cherry’ Solanums are finished, fuchsias and hostas will move in, under the umbrellas of Acer Trombenburg and frilly ‘Emerald lace’ . Elsewhere potted cyclamen are on their last go-round just as the hyacinth & narcissi duo are starting to break into purple and white. Also, there are thin, green worm like shoots appearing in several pots which I cannot put an ID to yet – such mysteries are one of the joys of gardening.

Being excited about Euonymus may be an exaggeration but in the dry, shady corners of the courtyard garden, the five varieties of Spindle are pure bling, especially with names like Emerald n Gold and Silver Queen l. In their fresh growth, the variegated white and greens sparkle, and hoverflies favour the yellow leaved varieties as landing strips.

april euonymous
silver, emerald and gold of Euonymus fortunei

Two bonsai pots were donated by a tenant of the adjacent flats and presented a small challenge for utilisation. In the end, I constructed a pansy pagoda or more accurately, a viola pagoda, with one as planter and the other as water reserve, as follows:

1. Seal hole with wax; 2. cover with protective slate (optional) and test for leaks – it works! 3. half fill with gravel and embed other planted bonsai dish on top 4. water well

The bright yellow faces of Viola Sorbet XP ‘Yellow Blotch’ are beautifully cheerful. Having purchased a tray of them, I planted more alongside the ‘pansy pagoda’, in a terracotta wine cooler, as well as in the large, self-seeded pot of dusky cranesbill and purple columbine. They will soon grow and glow.

potted Viola ‘yellow blotch’

Placed on the garden wall besides the south-east facing border they will also blend in well, for this is where the cranesbill and aquilegias originated. Prolific self-setters, both are just starting to flower.

samobor cranesbill
‘Samobor’ dusky cranesbill

Written for Diane so that she can stay in touch with the Courtyard Garden wherever she is in her travels.


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