A very slow spring

It’s still cold. Nine to eleven degrees, and a chill wind from the north-west. We’re at least four weeks later than last year (which was a disaster anyway, with its vicious late frosts).

As I’ve said before, I’m not unhappy. With everything held back, I’ve got on with a lot of things without the usual rush to clear weeds and mow grass. Turned the compost heap, dug new drains in an effort to make the bog garden less of a swamp, cleaned out the strawberries, manured the raspberries. And re-soiled the blue poppy beds, lifted and split their inhabitants. They are looking much happier than they were last year:P1010553

The early primulas are in full flower: Primula rosea enjoys having its roots in running water, but is equally happy in a damp bedP1010550.

I’m especially pleased that my primula melanantha survived the winter. I’ve kept it in its pot (I don’t normally like doing this) and sunk it into a fairly shady spot. It spent the months from September to March in the greenhouse, with only a tiny drip of water once a fortnight. Now it’s pushing out its velvety-black flowersP1010538.

On the subject of black, about five years ago, I stuck a black hellebore (helleborus niger) into the remains of a rotten tree stump under beech trees. The odd leaf appeared, but little else, and I wrote it off as a stupid error. But, lo and behold, the Christmas rose, flowering in May!P1010556


32 thoughts on “A very slow spring

  1. Nice to see you’re not too downhearted by the March-like-May weather. If you know Stella, you’ve probably a few acquaintences in common 🙂 I read with interest your wee prodigy’s heading into her arms! I’m still hibernating, I came out briefly yesterday as it was sunny planted tatties and enjoyed almost a hint of spring. Today we’re back to winter.

    • Indeed, I spend a lot of time trotting around Stella’s polytunnels, and I suppose a third of my favourite plants have come from Kevock originally. But I still kill a lot of the primulas I get from her, so I’m always back for more!

  2. We keep getting teased by the weather, a couple of nice warm days then it is back to March again. Your meconopsis are looking really good, way ahead of mine, some of which are only just coming through. Seedlings from last year which I have just moved into their permanent place are doing much better, but will they flower this year, still no sign of any buds?! Your Primula rosea is adding a bright note and looks very cheerful by your stream.

    • Meconopsis really put on a sprint once they get going. Mine were under snow until recently, and I thought they would be really late. But they still look as though they will flower at about the usual time.

    • It’s only been in cultivation for a couple of years. The link in the post tells you about it and also where you can get it. But it’s a pricey and a very fussy plant. Hence my pleasure in getting it into its second year!

  3. I hope your weather warms soon, although you are clearly making good use of the pre-spring. Your primulas and blue poppies look the prime of health Kininvie. But, is that lesser celandine, those round leaves among the poppies? I hope not. (My war with it continues.) Those glorious black primula and hellebore blooms provide mystery and romance and also obscure recollections of your scary chainsaw.

    • I bet you meant ‘blue poppy roots.’ Just guessing. I see I must learn to live with the awful celandine too, with small skirmishes every spring. The potato controversy surprised me but is quite fun. I’m hoping for Alistair’s comments too, he being so very pro-potato.

      And I’m still dreadfully jealous of your blue poppies, even before they bloom.

    • Sorry, I can’t comment on potato slicing, but how do you manage to live with Lesser Celandine? If there was any plant meant to drive you mad, surely this is it. I know people say “what a charming little **cheereful** flower, so bright when there is not much else to see, etc. etc., but truly it is driving me mad. It now covers a quarter of the garden. The continual rain last year has now helped to spread it everywhere. I gave up on the “wild” areas long ago, but it has now colonised what I “laughingly” called the lawns. What are your methods? Zen meditation, Christiian charity!!! What philosophy do you use, and where can I buy it? Perhaps I should try concrete? //[irony off].

      • Tim, I feel you pain….but I don’t know of a total solution. Linnie laboriously digs hers up and covers everything in black plastic. Where it gets into my beds, turning over the soil at about this time of year helps to keep it subdued. But if it’s taking over your lawns…. Do you have your house barricaded?

  4. I’ve grown some meconopsis from seed for the first time (inspired by you!) – I have perhaps half a dozen. They’re terribly fragile looking and I do worry about them. I shall pot them up this coming week and then worry some more. That black primula is a beaut (which I may well have said last year – and probably will again next). Dave

      • I think they’re lingholm but the seed packet is at the Priory. Well the florindae did germinate, Mr K. I was away recently and the under-gardener forgot to water them. Sigh. I shall need to resow. You told me that the seed doesn’t need to be too fresh so hopefully they’ll do fine. Dave

        • That’s a sackable offence, Dave. Or at least the under-gardener should be forced to write out 100 times ‘I must not abuse the generosity of fellow bloggers’. Seriously, if you are going away again, just leave them out in the snow. They’ll survive.

                • So all these melancholy outpourings about working on your own with only squirrels to talk to is just so much baloney? Or is the u/g a new acquisition, like the latest power washer? Anyway, now you’re a boss, I shall have to be more polite!

                  • I’m a huge fan of baloney, Mr K and use it often but not, oddly, on this occasion. When I go away, I ask one of three friends to step in and tend the Priory. (Though I only ever call them under-gardeners behind their backs). And please no – don’t be more polite. I much prefer you as you are. D

  5. It was good to get a spell of reasonable weather which brought everything on in leaps and bounds, The return of the colder weather is annoying. Glad to see the survival of the primula melanantha. I was very taken with it last year. Most of my comments on wordpress blogs are getting lost in cyberspace and if this doesn’t reach you and you happen to be telepathic, sorry!

    • Hello Alistair; The reason your comments are getting lost is that WordPress has for some reason decided you are a bot, and chucks you into the spam folder, which is where I’ve just rescued you from. What have you done to upset them so much?? I’ll keep an eye open for your comments, now I know where you will be living!

      • Kininvie, I have always had my suspicions about being a bit of a bot. I haven’t got a clue what’s happened but its getting me down. It started when my son in law added an application of some sort to prevent hot linking as he had some reason to think this was happening. It completely screwed up my blotanical page. He removed this plugin or whatever it was and I seem to be left with this problem of being a bot. I need to try and get in touch with akismet to see if it can be sorted out. Thanks for letting me know.

        • Alistair; it seems to be happening to Fay as well. Normally, when I mark a comment as ‘Not Spam’, akismet remembers the poster & lets subsequent comments through. But not with you! I checked the WP.com forums, and there’s someone there with the same prob – but WP is just referring everyone to Akismet & closing the thread.

  6. I see Carol klien was bestowing the virtues of swathes of celandine. Snakes, mad, bags, as a (reorder at will) that lady, although normally she’s quite sensible. Celandine nodules (?) look like teeny tiny baby Potatoes. Or is that just my tattie fetish? I think theyre like celery something you just put up with.

    Been posting on many WordPress blogs but my comments seem to get gobbled too. Those spambots need a talking too.


    • Hi, Fay, Yes, I’ve had to dig you out of the spam folder. If this goes on, I’m going to spend a lot of time rooting around there. See my reply to Alistair above.

  7. Primula melanantha is a stunner. I’m not normally a huge fan of such dark flowers but I love that one. The weather is proving difficult everywhere. We should have had our last frost weeks ago and I should be planting out all manner of plants but it’s still too cold. Doesn’t look like an especially long growing season this year. *sighs*

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