This weekend I cut down some of the hedge at the back right behind the house. I probably only cut about 10 feet of it horizontally, but that was still quite a feat as I also cut off about 10 feet of it vertically! By Saturday night I had made a second hedge inside the first one, and only marginally smaller. Then on Sunday I fed it all through the shredder and put it back where it came from (but, crucially, flatter in the form of a weed-suppressing mulch).
I have also planted another row of spring onions, as at long last the first row has started to show, and a little more mixed salad, a half-row of stir fry veg, and some basil. The greenhouse basil isn't showing yet, but the indoor one that I planted on Friday is already showing seedlings! According to the thermometer in the greenhouse, it is regularly reaching 30 degrees C in the daytime, but I suspect that it is still pretty chilly in there at night.
Tragically, I found my beloved blue tree lupin which I grew from seed a few years ago has died. I think perhaps they are not very longlived, as it had the best possible position, and it hasn't been that cold. Perhaps I should have planted another last year.
In flower at present we have:
1) Loads of daffodils - starting to look a little tired already now, some of them, but mostly still going strong.
2) A lovely Pieris - a tad overtall, perhaps, but absolutely covered in white bell-flowers at present, much to the joy of the bees. Later on it will have another period of interest when all the new leaves come through a delicate pink colour.
3) Berberis Darwinii. I have ranted about the evils of Berberis before now, but the target of my rage was the annoying, decidous barberries, with their spikes that fall off and their bare bonyness in winter. Berberis Darwinii (I'm not sure if this is the cultivar 'Orange King' or just the species) is a quite different matter. It has glowing ly dark green evergreen leaves, fountains of fabulous orange flowers and is also covered in happy bumble bees. Later on it will have lovely deep blue-purple berries. My plant does need cutting back - it's about 8 feet tall at the moment ! But I can forgive it a great deal for the show it's putting on. And the evergreen barberries don't have such savage thorns as the deciduous ones either.
4) A number of unnamed but enthusiastic camellias. Wish there were rather fewer bright pink ones, but they are nice mature plants so I have left them to get on with it so far. At some point in future I may remove some of them. Yes, the flowers are attractive, but they are very much a one-trick show: most of the year they are just big shiny dark green blobs, and they do cut out an awful lot of the light. I feel we could do better.
5) A Germolene pink Azalea, doing an excellent impersonation of a bright pink candlewick bedspread. In theory I hate this plant, but in practice it manages to win me over every year with its sheer exuberant vulgarity.
6) Plenty of primroses - mostly wild yellow, but there are a few pink ones.
7) The odd dwarf tulip here and there (must plant more dwarf tulips!) Someone should produce a dwarf tulip called Tyrion. It would be a lovely bright gold colour.
8) Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa). I've never seen this actually growing through snow, and suspect it to be a plant given a particularly glamourous name for marketing purposes. But never mind: it's still very lovely. And blue. I do like blue flowers in spring.
9) The Plant Formerly Known as Ipheion Wisley Blue (now, I believe renamed Tristagma unifolium). They both seem rather unflattering names for such a little star of a plant, and it's flowering its little socks off at the moment.
10) Nectarine - perhaps a little frilly and pink, but excellent novelty value: perhaps it might even set a fruit this year?
11) Celandines. I do love celandines, they look so happy when their flowers open in the sun.
12) Daisies - already a good number of them popping up in the lawn, excellent work! I know some people think of daisies as a weed, but I would not want a lawn without them, them and the germander speedwell (which is not yet in bloom).
13) Cyclamen - the white cyclamen I bought last year have mostly succumbed to the frost, but for some reason the red hybrids are much more robust, and are still blooming away in their basket. Well done, you red cyclamen!
14) grape hyacynths - I don't seem to be very successful with these: perhaps not enough sun early enough in the season, but there are some blooms.
15) some of the bluebells are just starting to open their first buds
16) Rosemary (both the upright and weeping forms).
17) A selection of unnamed Hellebores. I don't know which ones these are as I inherited them from the previous owner, but they are looking a lot better now after a number of good mulches, particularly the white one. I like the white one especially.
18) Periwinkles (which name I always muddle up with speedwell for some reason, despite the fact that Periwinkles are so very much bigger).
19) A very amply sized Skimmia, still bearing last years red berries among this year's white flowers. The leaves of Skimmias are a little dull, but they bear cutting back, they are thornless, the trimmings burn well or can be composted, and they only grow to about 4 feet maximum. Generally all the features I like to see in a shrub: they lack that urge to dominate and wound that too many garden plants have developed!