In the garden the main task has been a major spring clean of the relatively new gabion border aka 'The Great Wall Of Cheshire'. Surprise, surprise - the top soil which was imported for the bed did not live up to its top quality label. There were all sorts of perennial weeds having a go at making a good take over bid, so it was a case of off with their heads and into the bucket. I then top dressed with leaf mould some of which was less decomposed than I would have preferred but needs must. The plan is is to cover it up again with wood bark when expenses permit. Already somewhat dishearteningly some of the weeds were already making a come back by the end of the month. If I keep an eagle eye open on them I will knock them into eventual submission.
The bed is mainly planted for late winter/early spring interest with hellebores, snowdrops, pulmonarias, cardamine pratensis, the little 'Elka' narcissus (more to be added this autumn) and bergenia purpurescens 'Helen Dillon' form. A couple of shrubs have now been added. The first is prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' which had been lurking in a container for some time but a decision was made to take the plunge and get in the ground. Also planted was a rather tiddly bare - rooted amelanchier lamarckii which was reassuringly opening its leaves by the end of the month. For later interest there are a couple of astrantia 'Gill Richardson', an actaea and a couple of aster diveraticus.
There are still plenty of big gaps for further planting. I bought a few perennial plants to go in the other day but will mention them in April's EOMV post. The big brain teaser at the moment is that I need to plant a shrub or two to clothe the walls and am still mulling this over. The border faces north and I would prefer evergreens as the bare wall is still rather bleak.
I've noticed an unsightly nibbling problem in this border which is illustrated by the photo below. I have the same aster diveraticus in another part of the garden which are not affected and have not been before now. There are also some nibbles on hellebore leaves. Sadly I had to remove an emerging day lily the foliage of which has really suffered. I don't think that molluscs are the sole culprits. Any suggestions would be more than welcome.
In the greenhouse the heated sand bench is up and running. Tomatoes 'Box Car Willy', 'Banana Leggs', 'Ananas Noire' and 'Cream Sausage' were sown with very poor germination. I don't usually have any problems germinating tomatoes so don't know whether to put it down to the seed supplier, the compost or whether it is down to human error. A second batch has gone in so I will report back in due course. March sweet pea sowings of 'Erewhon', 'Fire and Ice' and 'Cupani' are all coming along nicely. Veggie sowings included broad bean' Witkiem Manita' and 'Douce Provenance' peas. 'Red Sun', 'Golden Gourmet' and 'Jermor' shallots were planted in cells and are now more than ready to head to the allotment to get their feet in the ground along with 'Red Baron' onions.
Plant purchases in March included the perennial fuchsia 'Hawkshead' along with two more special snowdrops 'Three Ships' and 'Erway'. I also made an online order from Crocus for a couple of hellebore plug plants - 'Double Ellen Red' and 'Double Ellen Picotee, a trio of dahlias and finally salvia 'Amistad'. which I'd been hankering for. I've bought bulbs and the odd present from Crocus before but have as far as I remember not ordered plants from them. I was most impressed with the packaging and the speed of delivery. These purchases were prompted by a phone call from a good friend, who had ordered hellebore plugs herself and mentioned not only their quality but the fact that the Gardeners World website is presently offering 20% discount off orders placed with Crocus. This offer is valid until the end of April so it could be worth having a peek.
Thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener Weblog' for hosting this most useful and inspirational meme.