Garden Blog - Blog Post

Running to Stand Still


They’re not kidding when they say “Spring is one of the busiest times of year in the garden”. Goodness me, I haven’t felt so rushed, harried and hassled as I have in the last couple of weeks. In the early part of March, the weather was bad, I did bits here and there in between breaks, I spent a lot of time inside, waiting for better weather; generally relaxing and chilling out.

Tulips, reflowering from last year

Better weather arrived and with it an aircraft hanger full of Winter Clean-up and Spring preparation jobs. I took some “holiday” so I could work solidly in the garden while the forecast remained good. Pruning, tidying weeding, cutting back, mulching, edging and trimming were all on the jobs list.

Magnolia “Heaven Scent” opening early

I actually resurrected my old task spreadsheet that I used to organise garden work last year. It’s essentially a 2D task list where I have the borders as the column headers and then tasks under each one. They’re in “brain dump” order – i.e. the order in which I thought of them. There’s even a colour key, black text is “to do”, orange is “in progress” and green is “done” – we all like green. So I’ve spent the recent time and holiday turning black through orange to green and I’m feeling much better with progress than when I first started.

Delicate-looking, but bomb-proof Epimedium

No matter how daunting it might be, it’s always better to understand the size of the problem/job, before tackling it piece-by-piece and I wish I had dusted off my spreadsheet earlier as initially I was rather overwhelmed by the number of things that needed doing and was having trouble juggling what needed to be done immediately, what could wait a little while and what could wait until the Spring Panic is over.

Forsythia needs to be viewed through sunglasses

The emergency items are typically pruning and in my garden this is roses, clematis and shrubs. Then comes cutting back perennials and giving the new growth room to breath with the dead detritus cleaned up, then comes the weeding. There’s whole host of other stuff but generally, once these winter jobs are done, I move on to the more forward-looking, ready-for-the-summer jobs like tying-in climbers, mulching, edging the borders. Fun stuff includes dividing plants (I love freebies) and of course, sowing early seeds.

Euphorbia in flower – moved to a happier location

The top-dressing of the borders has been a somewhat larger task than I imagined. I’m at least four bulk-bags of compost and well-rotted manure in and I still have a little part of the Crescent to finish, as well as the whole of the Landing Pad border to do. I’m only on a break now as I’ve run out of compost and am waiting for more bulk bags to arrive that I’ve actually had some time to write up early-season progress on this blog.

Only 1% of the Hoop-petticoat daffodils have re-flowered in subsequent years

The garden has been in just as much as a rush as I have and several shrubs and trees are coming out into leaf and blossom – probably earlier than they normally do. The magnolia is currently out and the one we have is supposed to be a late flowering (April/May) variety. The Spirea x Arguta, “Foam of May” is flowering now, in March/April, the cyclamen are still going while the snowdrops have gone over. The delphiniums are shooting up as are the fox-tail lilies. Some of the Stargazer and Regal lilies are beginning to break the surface but most are still looking dormant for now. Elsewhere, several of the clematis are in bud, as is the Banksiae rose, the forsythia is a radiant yellow beacon while the Amelanchier is like white starry sparkles.

Caution: razor-sharp border edging

I like looking back through pictures that I took “this time last year” to see what I was doing in the garden at that point and that gives me an indication of whether I’m behind or ahead. It’s not always a good comparison as I can be working on different areas at different times. A quick check for this time last year shows that I had the patio cleaned, sealed and laid out but hadn’t done the border edging nor had top-dressed the borders, which is something I’m doing/done now.

Still-flowering cyclamen

There’s a particular feeling of urgency to get these maintenance jobs done and out of the way and the garden set for the rest of the season so that I can get on with the job of creating the final (and largest) border in the garden as well as finally setting the patio straight. These are all in preparation for potential opening with the NGS and the target year is 2022, so there is a lot to squeeze in and do between now and then. It might be that the pressure and frantic running around is something that lasts past the urgency of the winter clean-up and well into summer, when I might have a better idea on whether the 2022 date is achievable or not.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Lynn Hunt 03/04/2021 - 8:47 pm

Sunil, I’m sure you’ll make that 2022 date! You are so well organized! I love your spreadsheet plan. I once wrote how keeping a garden journal made me a better gardener. Like you, we’ve had bad weather for quite awhile, but I am hoping beginning tomorrow, I can get on with much needed work. Then again, my garden is so much smaller than yours so I don’t have overflowing stress. Happy Spring my friend!

Sunil 04/04/2021 - 7:10 pm

Thanks, Lynn, though it all depends on that the final border and whether I can get the patio straightened out in time. I might have to do a bulk-buy of plastic plants and keep people from getting too close if I don’t get the seeds started off soon!

gardeninacity 04/04/2021 - 7:28 pm

Sunil, spring is truly beautiful in your garden. I hope the weather cooperates so you can catch up to your to-do list.

Sunil 06/04/2021 - 6:43 pm

Thanks Jason, unfortunately the weather has swung about wildly in the last several days, I’ve been gardening in a t-shirt one day, then in snowy showers the next. We’re going backwards in terms of seasons.

sallysmom 04/04/2021 - 8:19 pm

I am envious of those border edges.

Sunil 06/04/2021 - 6:44 pm

Thanks, I love neat, pristine, sharp border edges, the make the garden look really good. They last until around mid-summer when the plants flop over the edges and onto the grass, hiding them.


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