Counting the cost of this wettest April on record
HEAVY rain has exposed my failure to stake fast-growing plants in the flower borders.
The water has welled in petals, bracts and leaves, bending branches and stems towards the ground. They are at breaking point.
I dash out in wax hat to rescue them using canes and a web of string, but some are beyond help.
The wind has sent a terracotta pot smashing to the ground. The small patio rose and variegated ivy it contained are still lying there, I am ashamed to say, though in my defence still happily rootbound in the compost. I'll deal with it later because this foul weather offers no invite outdoors.
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It is the time for pottering in the greenhouse which feels like outside and in at the same time.
I have taken delivery of three young dog-tooth violets, Erythronium 'Pagoda'.
These are beautiful cream-yellow flowered plants which flower in the spring.
So named for their tooth-shaped bulbs, these violets are woodland natives and will have a home beneath the elder tree.
I have been horrified by the border this spring — it has been wholly barren apart from the ever-reliable Geranium macrorrhizum 'Album' , one hellebore and some self-seeded primroses.
It is a difficult spot which demands that plants survive dry shade and free draining soil among the roots of the elder tree. It is west-facing and has been enriched over the years with garden compost and manure. That's why I am risking the violets here, even though I know they would prefer moist conditions.
I am planning to combine then with some ferns which don't mind dry shade, like Polypodium vulgare and Asplenium scolopendrium .
I am hopeful of success with these delicate reflexed blooms. Their backswept petals resemble small Turk's-cap lilies in the way they are suspended on elegantly arching stems.
The young foliage will need protection from slugs.
For now though, these little plants look too tender to withstand the rigours of this wettest April since records began.
I am going to keep them in the unheated greenhouse before gently hardening them off in the cold frame.
I'm loathe to take any chances. The success of next year's border relies on it.
Pruning dead diseased and damaged wood, you may have discovered weather damage in the garden.
It is best to remove any damaged material as soon as you can to avoid further damage or disease.
Pests like weakened material, so don't give them any excuse.
Use clean, sharp secateurs to cut away fractured branches.
Cut back to just above strong outward facing buds or back to the main branch.
Do not leave a 'heel' which could result in die-back and attract disease.
Use this time to check for any other damage that may have been caused by rubbing branches and stake where you can.