4 Apr 2018

The Real End of Month View for March, in April

At the weekend I wrote about spring flowers that are currently blooming around and in the veg patch but didn't look at the wider view of what else is happening. It's easier to focus in on the detail when skies are grey!  So, for a proper end of month view, I took another wander around the various little patches that I manage here - the veg patch, the shady border, the washing line border and the middle garden. (Yes, my patch has spread outwards over the years!)

The Veg Patch

Urban Veg Patch - Urban food garden
~ After the tidy up ~
Urban Veg Patch - fruit and veg in early spring
~ Spring growth - rhubarb and ransoms, tulips and fruit buds ~
Spring weather has been challenging for us gardeners - a bit of in/out, in/out, but don't shake it all about (seeds, that is!).  I resisted the urge to sow during March - mainly because my balcony is off limits at the moment, and it's too dark inside for seedlings. That worked in my favour as the weather was brutal at times. I risked sowing a few broad beans and sweet peas back in January. The broad bean plants have been sitting in the veg patch for a week now waiting for me to plant them during a break in the rain (and not being distracted by other jobs) while the sweet peas grow ever taller on my balcony in the shade of the scaffolding boards above.

Things were a bit more clement by the end of March so raised beds were weeded, cleared and prepared for sowing. Garlic, spinach, onions and carrots are in. Broad beans will be planted next (after the compost bin is emptied) and peas sown. The pear and quince trees are about to unfurl their leaves, way ahead of the other fruits. Scented geraniums killed by bad weather have been chopped back ready for removal; a huge patch of spreading golden oregano has been dug out to clear a space for rhubarb. The quince has been pruned for airflow. My plan this year is to return the veg patch to a food growing space but first I have to decide what to do with the perennials and bulbs growing there. I'm not one for bare soil so those plants earn their keep in spring. But I need to borrow the space back for beans and beetroot over the summer. Thinking cap on.

The Shade Border

Urbanvegpatch - Plants for a shady border
~ Shade border - Anemones flowering at last! Plus ferns work well in shade ~
The Shady Border sits at the northern end of the veg patch gardens and is named for the permanent summer gloom cast by two very tall Viburnum x bodnantense and a climbing rose with nowhere to climb. For the past year, this border has also had light stolen by a shipping container parked a couple of metres in front of it, part of ongoing building works. I've been walking past this 4 metre long border all winter thinking that I'd dig out anything worthwhile and abandon it to its fate as a cat toilet and litter magnet. But it's beginning to shrug off the building debris, and put on its spring finery to win my heart over again. The jury is out while I think what to plant for the summer months in this area of dry shade; succession planting needs to be addressed.

Taking my cue from the Viburnums and rose, the planting was predominantly pink toned or white.  Purple and pink Heucheras were soon joined by a pink Aquilegia (Granny's Bonnet), tulips, Dicentra formosa (the short white one), Anemone blanda, white Astrantia (Hattie's pincushion) and Pulmonaria. A previous planting of muscari soon showed up and I threw colour schemes to the winds with some mini daffodils and large ferns to fill the back of the border. The rather too successful ground cover is provided by Anthriscus sylvestris  (Black cow parsley) and Galium Odoratum (Sweet Woodruff), one plant of each popped into the border several years ago.

The Washing Line Border

(aka The Drought Border)
UrbanVegPatch - Plants in the hot dry border
~ Front view of the 'Washing Line Border; will look better when the alliums flower~

~ More subtle viewed from the pavement below the wall. ~

This border sits at the opposite (southern) end of the gardens and is opposite in aspect to the Shade Border; it gets lots of bright light and sun - but no water - so I've used plants that can withstand drought here. It's looking very lime-yellow at the moment, toning in with the foam tubing around the scaffolding. Humpf. Bad weather has killed off the softer elements leaving the Euphorbia and flax to dominate the colour.  This much acid yellow needs to be tempered with something; maybe a few tulips might brighten things up next year. At the moment, I really don't like it but there are some elements still in favour - bronze sedum heads, bronze Carex and blonde Stipa and Panicum grasses not yet chopped back, the Euphorbia against the blue-green of the Juniper.  The front needs some attention though. Purple alliums, Irises (Edith Wolford) and mauve Erysimum will soon take the edge off the lime green but, on the whole, everything needs a bit of a tweak.

The Middle Garden

 ~ Just a few of the plants in pots, in waiting ... ~
I'm ashamed to admit that this is still a work in progress. I've changed my mind about the layout several times in the last year with the result that very little got planted; in fact, the reverse was true for a huge kniphofia that I removed. Last spring I wanted a large sitting area in the middle. Then preferred the idea of a large circle of herbs with random walkways through flowers; pretty but impractical. Now I'm in favour of four large beds, mostly herbs, with a plus-sign path inbetween, surrounded by perennial, and some annual, flowers. Basically I just need to get on with it.

It's helpful to write all this down as there's a lot to finish in all the gardens; I hope there will be some progress to show by the end of the month!

By the way - Looking back at photos of the garden this time last year, pear blossom was in full froth, all tulips had been in flower for a couple of weeks, the gooseberry bush had leaves and flowers, same with the honeyberry bushes. Winter has definitely delayed spring here in the south by several weeks.

Linking to
1- Through the Garden Gate at Sarah's 'Down by the Sea' blog
2- End of Month View at Helen's 'The Patient Gardener' blog


  1. Spring being a bit delayed this year doesn't help but reckon in the following weeks you'll be amazed at how much you're able to do. Looking great!!

    1. Thanks! Every dry day is a bonus now, guys! I'm trying to squeeze in at least an hour a day - it moves the gardens along and is very helpful for my sanity after being indoors in the gloom! Let's hope the fine weather promised for the weekend really happens!

  2. I’vea always assumed your garden areas are communal with access by your neighbours so do they chip in for plants etc. or is everything out of your pocket?

    1. You're right, Sue - the gardens and borders are completely accessible, not just by neighbours but by anyone walking through the flats. (Which is why I regularly get all my apples picked.) The veg patch started as a community growing space with a gardening group but most people soon found they had neither the time nor the inclination, but I decided to carry on. Everything is out of my pocket, unless I'm lucky enough to get sent seeds to trial. Mostly people are respectful of the work that I put in though and leave the space alone but are interested in what I'm growing. It works because I have very nice neighbours here on what is a generally a very pleasant, quiet, clean and friendly community estate.

  3. I love the name of the Washing Line Border! It's good to see the different views of the garden. I like you have found it so frustrating that the rain has kept us away from the garden and even this week the lawn has squelched under our feet! It's lovely to see despite the weather your spring border flowering and growth in the vegetable border. Thanks for taking part in Through the Garden Gate. Sarah x

    1. Haha, I think every washing line should have it's own border! We've had warm sunshine today but more rain is forecast for the coming week - I hope it's wrong as I've enjoyed getting into the garden and getting things done. Through the Garden Gate is a good way of keeping track of progress; it's so easy to forget the highlights when you look back on the year. Here's to a better April than March! Caro xx

  4. It's marvelous to be able to get out and make new plans, although I find it all a little overwhelming at the moment, mainly in terms of where to start, it will take me months to weed the front garden alone. It was great seeing all the different borders, the washing line border had me laughing out loud! Some fantastic blooms too, good luck with it all.xxx

    1. Thank, Dina. A weeding tip I saw on Instagram is to mark off a small area (with a hula hoop, or similar) and to focus on weeding that area - don't let your thoughts go elsewhere! If you just do that small bit of weeding every day, it will soon be done. At least that's the theory, LOL! xx

  5. With all the different exposures, your garden offers so many opportunities. I know that feeling of indecision in the garden - it can be paralyzing. I try to deal with it by literally ask myself...what's the worst that can happen if I make a "mistake"? This usually does the trick and I, as you put it, simply get on with it.

    I so envy your time in the garden right now. We are still in a holding pattern here, anxiously waiting for temperatures to rise - only 2 days will hit 10C (which is the normal temp at this time of year) in the next two weeks.

    1. That's very true, Margaret, what's the worst that can happen - a good mantra to garden by! The days are getting longer and brighter here. It was a bit chilly today, gardening in the afternoon, in the shade, so temps are still up and down, but spring is definitely on its way - the pear and plum trees are blossoming! Hurrah!


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