I missed posting a March end of month view, because enthusiasm for both garden and allotment was at a low following the cold winter and other events going on at the time. Now that April is slowly ebbing away I am feeling decidedly more cheerful and energetic and am enjoying being in the garden, greenhouse and at the allotment again.
Reading through last April's end of month view post this April seems a long way removed in terms of both weather and flowers. No copious amounts of rain this year but it has definitely been on the cool side. Last April photos of geranium phaeum and tiarella in full flower illustrated my end of month post. When I looked yesterday evening the same geranium shows firmly shut pendulous flower heads whilst the tiarella looks quite bedraggled. Flowering now are the plants that I normally associate with March going into early April - pulmonarias, primroses, hellebores, little daffs, brunneras and other early spring gems. Later flowering hardy perennials such as astrantia and geraniums only seem to have broken through the ground in the last couple of weeks. I am only just in the process of dividing and potting some perennials for our garden club plant sale which is towards the end of May. Usually this is something that I do in March, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a warmer spell that they settle in and bulk up over the next month.
The greenhouse is slowly filling up with seedlings of tomatoes, sweet peppers, beetroot, lettuce and salad mixes, various basils, cucumbers, squashes, courgettes, red onions, leeks, purple flowering artichokes, broad beans and peas. I noticed last year that all my early French bean sowings did not fare well, so I've decided not to sow French beans until May. One exception though was a sowing of a new to me variety 'Speedy' which is recommended for early and late sowing. I will be interested to see how it fares. In the flower department I have sown nicotiana mutablis, nicotiana alata, brachycombe, cosmos 'Purity, various sweet peas, cerinthe, nasturtium 'Blue Pepe', gaura lindheimeri, ammi visnaga, orlaya grandiflora, daucus carrota 'Black Knight', cobaea scandens as well as some geraniums from my own saved seed. Time soon for pricking out and the inevitable greenhouse shuffle - again such activities would have normally started by now.
Progress at the allotment has been slow but I've been putting in some sessions especially over the last couple of weeks. I have planted the shallots that I started off in the greenhouse - 'Red Sun', 'Golden Gourmet' and 'Longor'. Potatoes will be going in during the coming week but just one bed this year. I've also been preparing a bed to plant some new strawberry plants after reluctantly deciding that the existing plants had probably reached the end of their most productive years. Sadly the winter seems to have taken its toll on the greenhouse at the allotment and on the lean to shed, so himself has promised some repair work. Oh and guess what I forgot to remove the nest in my shed which has already been blessed with three blackbird eggs. Makes journeys into the shed more problematic but I should be able to get in and out again more easily as the year progresses. At least now that we have a composting toilet on site I do not have to retire to the shed with my bucket. I'm not sure what the blackbird would have made of that.
As for new plants there have been one or two purchases, mainly at the Cheshire and Friends branch of the Hardy Plant Society plant sale as well as from a visit to my local nursery at Bluebell Cottage Gardens. I have yet more pulmonarias, a couple of brunneras as well abd a clematis recta 'Black Velvet'. For now they are taking time out in the coldframe.
Thanks to Helen of The Patient Gardener's Weblog, who came up with the excellent concept of the End Of Month view. Looking forward to reading what everyone else has been up to.
P.S. A beautiful warm and sunny afternoon to round off April - we enjoyed coffee sitting outside for the first time this year.