It is truly remarkable what a little bit of neglect can do to a garden! Flowers secretly proliferate and propagate themselves; plants that began life as a single plant or seed: and almost without warning, you have a multitude of young seedlings, or a bank of blossoms. It has happened in our own acre over the years, and brings such delight whenever something unexpected occurs. Such finds do not prevent me from endlessly increasing my stock of new seeds and plants, but what began as a bag of three summer-flowering bulbs, is by now a drift of purple starbursts (or will be next month).
Camassia, too, with a liking for damp conditions, has thrust its spikes of clustered blue florets through the uncut undergrowth. A heavenly sign of Spring; one moment there are just green leaves and the next moment flower-stalks 18-inches (45cms) high. Both the alliums (flowering ornamental onions) and the camassia have propagated themselves by bulb offsets or seed – leave the seedheads to ripen on the plant; then leave them to do their own thing. All it takes is ground that is not disturbed, and patience.
Pollination is of course essential for fruit to set, and I am anxiously awaiting signs that we will have pears again this year, for the recent grey skies and heavy rain has resulted in a paucity of bees and other insects. Indeed the first swallow arrived and departed, for lack of food on the wing. But under one pear tree in the orchard, a cowslip patch has established itself. From one plant bought several years back, a dozen or more are flowering this year. I peg out the area to avoid mowing, and keep it that way until the seedpods have ripened and the seed has fallen. This year, there are plants way beyond the original patch – nature taking its course, ecology for real.
The rain and late frosts may have affected the glorious blooms of magnolia or camellia – not taken in our garden (for our soil is inappropriate for this glorious shrub that grows almost wild in Cornwall). It thrives in woodland gardens or with the shelter of a wall and benefits from a leaf-mold mulch, but dislikes limey soil. Ornamental shrubs add height to borders, and provide shelter for wildlife. Make a note in your diary to keep searching the Dobies catalogue for special offers.
A greenhouse is a godsend in even the smallest garden. If you are fortunate enough to have the use of one, it is no doubt already packed with young perennials you have grown from seed – plants to fill your flower borders; or vegetables to feed you through the coming months. Protection will still be needed on frosty nights – and those without a greenhouse have a choice of alternatives. Take a look, too, at the range of items for potting on young seedlings.
Finally, on this Friday afternoon (thundery and showery here in the north Cotswolds), take inspiration from a free weekend visit to a National Trust garden this weekend (click on link to download voucher) Also, book your tickets for the Malvern Spring Flower Show where Dobies will be participating. More details on what they will be exhibiting will follow in next week’s blog post.