Garden Journal - 30th April, 2007

Wildchicken Garden Journal - Miranda Hodgson


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30th April 2007 - New plants and new birds

The planned changes for the colour schemed beds are coming along. Many of the plants are in place and others are in pots. These are Achillea ‘Terracotta’, Helenium, Calendula ‘Princess Orange and Black’, Liatris spicata and Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’. I’m not sure about the Liatris as far as slugs and snails go – had mixed reports – but I know full well that if the others go in the ground now they’ll be stripped within days, and then I’d be cross.


"They will provide some height and a different texture with their tall spires of fluffy looking flowers"

I’d actually forgotten to start the Liatris corms off and found them in the garage at the beginning of the month, after doing a lot of the planting for the blue/purple/pink/white bed. They’re coming on very well now so I’ll have to find space for them somewhere. They will provide some height and a different texture with their tall spires of fluffy looking flowers.


Even though the plants have not come on yet, the beds are already looking better for being replanted. They look better spaced and the planting looks more balanced. I’m hoping this will continue as they mature.


Front garden, April 2007

As it looked in mid-April


The purple leaved Heucheras are settling in well and have put up flower stems. Some of them are combined with Sisyrinchium ‘Californian Skies’ so we’ll have the larger rounded leaf of the Heuchera next to the low growing spreading grass like foliage of the Sisyrinchium. The rich blue flowers will go well next to the dark foliage of the Heucheras.


We went to the Harrogate Spring Show yesterday and there were a great many Heucheras on display, in a wide range of colours. I’m still not keen on Heuchera  ‘Crème Brullèe’ and can’t help thinking it just looks diseased, but two with dark foliage caught my eye: H. ‘Obsidian’ and H. ‘Firecracker’. ‘Obsidian’ had been put next to peachy-flowered Geum rivale ‘Leonard’s variety’ and looked very desirable. But, the plans are made for this year and I want to try and stick to them and see how it works out.


Heuchera 'Obsidian' and Geumrivale ‘Leonard’s variety’

Heuchera 'Obsidian' and Geum rivale ‘Leonard’s variety’


That’s the trouble with flower shows at this time of year. You’ve done all your planning and planting and then you see something gorgeous and want to start all over again. Another combination I saw at the show was Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’ and Milium effusum ‘Aureum’. The lime green of the Milium set off the dark purple-green foliage and blue flowers of the Ajuga perfectly. As the year goes on, the Milium will flower, putting up nodding panicles of yellow flowers in early summer. It would look beautiful in dappled shade.


Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’ and Milium effusum ‘Aureum’

Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’ and Milium effusum ‘Aureum’


Another desirable combination for shade was silver-green Lamium maculatum and a pale flowered Geum,  ‘Cream Drop’. The purple-tinged stems of the Geum rose above and complemented the foliage of the Lamium extremely well.


Lamium maculatum and Geum ‘Cream Drop’

Lamium maculatum and  Geum ‘Cream Drop’


Then we came to some white flowered Trillium flexipes, which was paired with Epimedium versicolour ‘Sulphureum’. I can only hope that our next garden has a good amount of shade, because all these are on my wish list now.


Trillium flexipes and Epimedium versicolour ‘Sulphureum’

Trillium flexipes and Epimedium versicolour ‘Sulphureum’


Back at home, four robins fledged on the 4th of April and are now making their way in the world, so there’s a success story. We’ve seen them around the garden, being fed by their parents and they are looking fat and healthy. Two young blackbirds have also been spending time in the garden. I think they are younger than the robins as they are still here now and the robins haven’t been about for a couple of days. We see them sitting under shrubs, looking sulky, or following the adults about, asking for food. Surely they’ll start feeding themselves soon; they are quite as big as the adults and their tails are getting longer.


One day fledged robin

Robin, first day out of the nest


A pair of thrushes has also been visiting and we’re finding many snail shells about; they are a great boon to the organic gardener and provide invaluable help. I often hear them rustling about under shrubs as they hunt for food. They’re nesting in an ivy-covered tree in the woods over the road and I’ve wondered if they will also bring their young ones to the garden.


It worries me, that road. The birds swoop so low when they cross and far too many are hit by speeding cars. If a car is travelling at 30mph, as they are supposed to be doing, the birds can just make it, but any faster and they are all too likely to die in the attempt. Just last week two chaffinches, a male and female, were found dead at the roadside, right outside our front gate. They will have been crossing to, or from, the woods to our garden, but never made it. Were they just chasing each other, I wonder, or did they have chicks to feed?

© Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2007


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