2012.02.29 End of Month View – Pruning and new life

At the end of last month nothing was happening in the garden or with me.  In fact I was feeling down – illogically really because winter has been very short, intense but short.  This week we’ve had warm sunny days and also days when the wind is so cold and so strong it was bending the trees in half.

The snow has all melted and with the warm sun much is growing; I found that Iris unguicularis has flowered for the first time – I know that they don’t like being disturbed but I had hoped for flowers last year – so far there is one bloom, I hope there will be more.  They are planted under  Rosa mutabilis and I would really like to move them to a better position but it would be sad to lose the flowers for another couple of years.

I love this Iris unguicularis, despite its horrible name

Under the snow I found an Achillia blooming, but the cold wind has burnt the flowers now.

Tulips are emerging from the soil, I am so happy as I held to my resolve and I didn’t buy or plant any bulbs last autumn.  I long for their bright hues and beautiful forms to fill the garden with colour and announce that it really is spring!

When I read the Alberto at Altroverde was cutting back his grasses I thought he was being a little premature; last year I did mine towards the end of March.  But I thought I should check and almost all the grasses including the Miscanthus (that I consider to come into leaf late) had fresh green leaves emerging from the base; the wind and snow had burnt some a little but not enough to do permanent damage.  So another job to be completed ASAP.

On Sunday I decided the time had come to remove some of the Gaura that smothered the roses in the circular rose bed.  The roses are planted in four groups of three and Gaura had germinated close in around the roses to the extent that last autumn it seemed that the lower growing Sophie’s perpetual was almost completed buried.  From the original 12 Gaura plants that had been planted between the groups I removed about 36 plants that had grown since 2009.  I had already removed many, very many seedlings from this bed and used them on the slope and in client’s gardens.  I don’t really understand why they self-seed so much better in this bed than anywhere else; it could be because this bed has irrigation for the roses.  So the question was, what to do with all these plants, the compost heap seemed an impossible choice, I love the butterfly blooms of the Gaura floating amongst plants for so much of summer and into autumn.

September 2011, where are the roses in the rose bed? UNDER the Gaura!

They are one of the few consistently flowering plants in late July and August.  I have been considering adding another something to join the Perovskia in the formal beds.  The front two are under-planted with white tulips and Allium although I’m not sure how many will regrow this year, they were planted in 2008.  I was already thinking about transplanting some of the many dwarf hyacinths that are becoming overcrowded in other beds and under the olives.  So I decided to experiment with planting the Gaura into the back two beds.  I’m half way through planting one bed and I’ll use some of last year’s seedling plants to complete at least one bed.

This month I have pruned the Wisteria ‘Prolific’ on the pergola.  I made the decision to prune all the roses despite the fact that they had retained most of their leaves and were in no-way dormant, some including ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ even had new viable flower buds; like ‘Wellywoman’ despite wearing leather pruning gloves my wrists and the backs of my hands are covered in scratches!  All the Perovskia has also been pruned; again much earlier than I have pruned them before.

As soon as the sun shone Lonicera fragrantissima opened new buds, I have this shrub planted near where we park so when you get out of the car you are greeted with its delicious perfume.

small but deliciously perfumed Lonicera fragrantissima

The very best thing about February is that sunset is later and later each day; very noticeable on sunny days, it is now gone 6pm when the sun sinks below the horizon and at 5pm it feels like the middle of the day instead of dusk.  The disadvantage of being closer to the equator and having more light in winter is that in summer it is dark earlier than I am used to in Southern England, but it is a price worth paying.

Thank you Helen, the Patient Gardener for hosting this useful meme; if you would like to see what others have been doing in their gardens this month follow the link to see what’s happening around the world.