Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

GBBD: Not So Mellow Yellow

March of course is unashamedly yellow. There's lots of daffodils nod, nod, nodding in the breeze, their cheerfulness reassuring us that spring is truly here, even if things might go out with one last wintry roar at the end of the month. Until now, I've always chosen them to showcase March in my garden. However, 2011 already is turning out to be an untypical year: if there is such a thing as typical in the world of gardening.

After the cold of December, January saw my snowdrops blooming far earlier than usual by around 10 days. They're just beginning to go over and now my daffodils are taking their place. But what's this? We have a usurper in our midst: my Forsythia has decided to bloom ahead of its far daintier cousins. This is a first for my garden and is just plain wrong.

I'm sure it's because I've decided to get rid of it this year, so it's decided to play by the rules of Houdini Plants I devised a while ago. As you can see it's flowering its socks off in a kind of last hurrah. Until now it's never been a prolific bloomer, usually preferring to proffer an odd twig of gold here and there instead.

Today it's as loud as its far lustier cousins and showing just how garish a Forsythia can be. I bought it because the corner it's planted in is usually dull and I wanted it to brighten the spot. It's also a variegated variety, my reasoning being that this would make it more interesting during the non-flowering period. How wrong I was: a variegated non-flowering Forsythia is just as boring as the more conventional kind. So I'm showing it off today because I've never shown it before and as a final record of how that part of the garden looks before I change it.

In other news I've lost my heart to a Hellebore. This is most strange as I don't usually go for them at all. I get irritated by their downward looking flowers and have had lots of difficulty when growing them in the past with ugly black spots on the foliage. All that changed when I went to the RHS Show last month and met Helleborus 'Winter Moonbeam'. I spent a lot of time looking at her whilst Victoria made her snowdrop selection, but the visions of that black spotted foliage made me determined not to cave in to her charms.

Returning to the Halls late on in the afternoon was a dangerous move as the crowds had gone and there was time to chat at length to the pleasant woman on the Harveys stand. I explained my previous difficulties with Hellebores which prompted lots of questions about my garden and soil. It appears its previous life as a farm means that the ground is trying to return to a meadow and the clay soil isn't really helping re the fungus responsible for the black spots. I really need to rework the soil, dig deep and add lots of gravel. There was lots of advice and absolutely no pressure to buy, just a cheery 'well you need to go and do a bit of thinking about what you want to do then'.

Then I spotted one of them in a large pot. 'Oh, can you grow them like that?' I asked. 'Oh yes' came the reply, 'These have been potted up for 3 years. Just give them some bonemeal a couple of times a year and they'll be fine.' That made my mind up and I now have a pair of delightful large flowered Hellebores lighting up the steps down to my shed. I love their marbled foliage too: a double unexpected delight. It just goes to show that perhaps if we dislike a particular plant, it's not really dislike at all but probably because we haven't found the right one yet.

I'll make an exception in the case of the Forsythia though ;)

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

10 comments:

  1. Ooh - Hellebores in pots! Going to try that!

    My Forsythia is much more prolific in almost flowering buds this year too, and looks like it'll bloom before the daffodils. (We're a bit later here up North!)

    Snowdrops now finishing, (have some over on blog that I need identifying - very lovely large variety.)

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  2. Forsythia is wonderful. Most everything is pink here now.

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  3. what a lovely Harveys' lady. your hellebore looks quite fetching in her pot.

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  4. There's always a solution! And I guess you can still enjoy the foliage once the flowers are over - not something I would normally say of a hellebore! Goodbye forsythia, at least it got its five minuted of fame before destruction!

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  5. It's a survival mechanism, the Forsythia got wind of your plans. I'm still trying to get rid of one of mine (who needs 2 Forsythias?).
    You're stepping into dangerous waters now, soon you too will be addicted to hellebores. Don't say you weren't warned. Hellebormania is about to start here.

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  6. I like Forsythia even if I am in the minority!! I think sometimes the reason we go off plants is because we havent found quite the right spot for them. It is funny though that your Forsythia is flowering its socks off maybe it needed that prolonged period of cold to really get the blooms

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  7. Phoenix C - I was surprised they can be grown in pots, especially as they're quite a deep rooted plant. The pots allows me to keep my options open and spend the time getting the soil right for them and minimise the risk of black spot disease.

    Nell Jean - I have a little bit of pink too in the shape of my Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn'.

    Petoskystone - she was indeed. I've found out since her name was Jan.

    Janet - it was the extra large more upright flowers, plus the attractive foliage which really sold this plant to me :)

    MMD - last month it was Galanthophiles now the Hellebore fans are showing themselves. I dipped my toes into both with this purchase as I also got two free snowdrops!

    PG - my problem with this Forsythia is that it usually blooms later when the sun's stronger and that tends to make it look rather garish. Perhaps you've found the right one :) I also agree re the cold and the large amount of flowers this year.

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  8. Good point in that last para - well numerous good points throughout, but especially in last para. Horses for courses and all that!
    Best
    R

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  9. I love that Hellebore VP - I will have to look out for that!

    Good to talk last night
    K
    xxx

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  10. Robert - thank you :)

    Karen - it was lovely to talk :D I was thinking of you when writing this post, because finding the right one also applies to grasses ;)

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