Hail, frost and finger damage

Our NGS open day on Sunday 23rd was a success. The garden looked immaculate – Mr B’s mowing and edging set off the flower beds perfectly. It is always great to share Upper Green with like-minded gardeners and the weather was kind to us . The weather has not been so kind this week. The unprotected Rodgersia podophylla, which had looked so good, has been hit badly by the frost as have the tips of Mr. B’s potatoes under their cosy cloches. The potatoes will be fine but sadly the damage to the beautiful chestnut-brown fingered leaves of the rodgersia will persist.

The pink flowers of the tiny Daphne cneorum var. pygmaea in the trough have a tremendous scent. It is the first year it has flowered. When the daphne is a little bigger, the area around the front door should be redolent with sweet perfume.

I prepared a small leaflet about the garden for the visitors, highlighting some of my favourite plants including balm-leaved red dead nettle (Lamium orvala). The large dark pink flowers hide amongst soft heart-shaped leaves. I also have the white flowered variety. Another beauty is the alpine candytuft, Iberis sempervirens ‘Fischbeck’, which has masses of white flowers lighting up the gravel bed.

Delights in the rock bed include soft strokable seedheads of Pulsatilla vulgaris (pasque flower), and alpine aquilegias, both blue Aquilegia flabellata var. Pumila and red Aquilegia grahamii.  Aquilegias and pasque flowers are seeding around- good news.

Root parasitisation by yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) has had a tremendous impact on the vigour of the grass on the Ha-Ha and the cowslips (Primula veris) are flowering. I have great hopes for a mini-meadow and will plant wildflower seed in the autumn.

Parasitisation by yellow rattle (in the foreground)  has weakened the grass of the Ha-Ha. Cowslips have settled in and should self seed.

‘Molly the witch’ and Upper Green open day

The open day (Sunday 23rd April) is drawing near and I am in full-on gardening mode. It is remarkable how many weeds spring up when my back is turned. I managed to spend the virtually the whole day in the front garden clearing beds and cutting back various shrubs that have got out of control. The Viburnum tinus has a worrying tendency to dieback. I am not sure if this is caused by fungus or the viburnum beetle but an annual prune seems to help and so far the shrub has survived. I found a small nest while clipping so I stopped, but I suspect it is one made last year.


Yellows and blues dominate the spring bed. My Mum’s creeping veronica, which I think is Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’, looks particularly fine contrasting with the golden foliage of golden lemon balm (Melissa officinalis ‘Aurea’) and golden spikenard ‘Aurea’ (Valeriana phu ‘Aurea’) as well as the flowers of Geum ‘Lemon Drops’.

Mahonia × media ‘Winter Sun’ is sickly. We may have disturbed the roots when removing a large Rhamnus alaternus ‘Argenteovariegata’ disfigured by sooty mold. I don’t think this dry weather is helping, but I have done some radical pruning (with the help of Mr B) and fed and watered it. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

There should be plenty of colour on the 23rd including tulips, clematises (what is the plural of clematis?), epimediums,  euphorbias and fruit tree blossom.

Best of all, ‘Molly the witch’ (Paeonia mlokosewitschii), that most glorious of peonies, is looking her very best.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii





Colour at Upper Green

The garden has taken off- so much colour, scent and shape. Spring is a wonderful season for gardeners, but going away for most of March makes no sense and I have missed too much. I have resolved not to do it again- especially when we are opening for the NGS in April. Camellias, anemone blanda and ipheion add to the colour at the front of the house.

The spring bed looks wonderful and plants are virtually confluent.


Snake’s head fritillaries are putting on a fantastic display.


Tulips provide blocks of colour (not always quite as perfectly co-ordinated as planned), the lovely pasqueflowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris) are in bloom for Easter and the herbaceous perennials are springing into life. Many of these plants will be over by 23rd April when we are open, but plenty more are on the way.

To my great delight, green shoots (hypocotyls) are peeping out from 4 of the mistletoe seeds that I stuck so carefully onto the branch of the old Bramley apple tree in February. Clearly the beak wiping technique I used to remove most of the sticky jelly around the seed in each fresh berry was perfect!


But it is very dry- so will these tiny plants survive? Some may be eaten by insects or birds- the chicken wire may deter the birds. Once the holdfast is established by the fragile looking hypoctyls, will the seedlings manage to penetrate the bark to commence the parasitic phase? It takes 3 years for the first leaves to appear so I will have to be patient …..and I will need both male and female plants to get berries.