If I were to see the Magnolia for the first time today, I do not think I would find it very pretty. Big, lots, and pink is usually not my thing. It is impossible to look at the Magnolia from this perspective, because the Magnolia is connected to my earliest memories. There was a huge Magnolia x soulangeana in front of my childhood home. People stopped and stared when it flowered. We dubbed the tree ‘tuliptree’ because of the shape of the flowers and the time it flowered. The actual tulip tree is a Liriodendron tulipifera (a distant relative of this Magnolia) which does not do so well in my area, probably because of the soil, but my fellow bloggers pointed out that it does fine where they live.
Our common Magnolia x soulangeana is a hybrid, hence the X in the name. Magnolia denudata and Magnolia lilliflora are its parents. It is more of a large shrub than a tree. When I moved here, I did not immediately see the Magnolia. I was not so garden minded yet, so the appearance of those well known pink flowers was a pleasant surprise. My own Magnolia is not the prettiest. It was stunted by the present of an extremely large conifer only half a metre away. I have removed the conifer and since then, it has grown considerably. I have had to prune a bit, there’s no other way in such a small garden. It does not take pruning very well, because it responds by producing large upright shoots with little flowers compared to the natural arching branches. What did work for me was removing its large lower branches to create space and light for my perennials.
Normally it decorates my son’s birthday on the 14th of April, this year it was a bit later due to our very cold spring. There are very old Magnolia’s in the older part of our town. Looking at their size and the age of the houses, I estimate they are at least 60 years old and still growing stronger and especially wider. If you love Magnolias, but do not have the space for such a large shrub, the Magnolia stellata could be a good solution. It is smaller and more compact in its growth.
Magnolias are widely known for their shortlived flower power, but I think they are pretty in summer too. They have relatively large, soft leaves with a lovely yellow colouring in autumn. Sometimes, after a warm summer, they form bright red seeds. The buds form throughout the winter and look interesting long before spring. As I write this, my Magnolia is looking its best. The first flowers are dropping though. I’ll enjoy them thoroughly this weekend and think of home, a place only to visit in the mind.
Spring is bursting at the seams. The cold weather a few weeks ago is but a distant memory. There is a soft drizzle outside, but that buys me time to catch up in the virtual garden. Reading all the garden blogs on my afternoon off I can’t help thinking nature is catching up at last. Who are the spring favourites in my garden?
Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’
I bought these plants, because I already had lots of perennials that disappeared during winter. This one promised permanence and structure in winter. The first two years were not very successful. Spring was dry those years, and these young plants withered away. After a very wet summer they began to grow though. The next spring, they started to flower. They have grown into considerable clumps and I have even been able to divide them last autumn. They brighten the shade en bring structure throughout the year in my other wise messy border. They do not mind frost, although I do occasionally remove a few brown leaves in spring.
This is a plant I do not expect to add any permanent structure, only transient tender beauty. I literally do not mind bending my knee to watch it more closely. It is a typical woodland plant. It takes advantage of that very brief period of time in spring, when there are no leaves yet on the trees. After flowering it withers and disappears from the face of the earth again, only to return for a month or so in spring.You can buy the roots in autumn and plant them underneath deciduous trees and shrubs. It is better to put them in water overnight before you plant them.
I like uncomplicated plants and trees, the kind that takes care of their own business when I’m busy. The same goes for bulbs, I prefer naturalising bulbs. Many naturalising bulbs are not indigenous, but do well in our climate and spread. The grape hyacinth is an excellent example. Originally from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, they revel in our soggy weather.
Friends sometimes ask me whether it is normal for bulb foliage to appear in autumn. Usually it concerns grape hyacinths. The answer is yes. It’s handy I think, you don’t dig them up accidentally. Grape hyacinths flower for a long time. Once they have flowered, they still look nice, even the seedheads are attractive.
If you are a relaxed gardener with loose soil, and you leave the hoe in the shed, they will sow themselves. The seedlings look a bit like grass, they are very fine. It takes a couple of years for them to flower. A faster way to get more grape hyacinths, is to divide the existing clumps and plant them elsewhere.
Grape hyacinths are available in white, take for instance a cultivar like “White Magic”. I think they are pretty, but in my garden these white grape hyacinths tend to disappear.
Grape hyacinths are a given in my winter and spring pots and baskets, indoors and outdoors. After they have flowered, they move to the garden. They are readily available shortly after Christmas, they are cheap and do not mind a cold spring like we had this year. Most of all, I just think they are cute. You can not have too much of a good thing. At least, this holds true for grape hyacinths.
It can be a bit costly to change the name of your domain, but this weekend I was seriously considering it. Always garden time, ridiculous.
It’s not garden time at all. We should all be busy in the garden now, but spring has not really caught up with the calender yet. I have a partner in crime these days, my seven year old daughter. We took our refuge at welke.nl which is an awfully addictive site. So many nice ideas and I’m not a handy Helen at all. Most of these projects are bound to end up in failure in this house.
We did decide to take our chances though because we had to have a fairy door of our own in our box elder maple. We are very pleased with the result. Let’s hope our fairy door invites a little magic into our daily lives. I hope the fairies will not forget to bring Spring too, along the way.
Is there any truth to this old saying? For me personally there must be. Both my first name and my last are derived from trees, the linden and the beech. No wonder I have always loved trees and forests.
Nomen est omen does certainly ring true for many plants, but that’s because we have named them. It is helpful to have some knowledge of Latin, because often their names betray a little of their nature.
I have been busy studying the last weeks. I had little time for gardening, and even less for garden writing. Sometimes you need a break though. I took little Puk to a manor and surrounding copse wood nearby.
I had been there before, but never in this time of the year, and the abundance of snowdrops was a very welcome surprise. It is a lovely little wood. The sound of the roads and the metro is never absent, but it is still a haven of peace. We did not meet anyone during our walk, except for the birds.
Further down the path, the little wood is left to its own devices. The ivy reigns here.
Old trees add a little magic to a place. Down by the road I ran into my namesake, the linden. It is a vigorous tree, bursting from the ground. I love the little red tips now and the lush foliage in summer.
Just being under the trees for a little while, reminded me of simple truths. Spring is coming. The linden trees have been there for decades and have seen many springs. They were not much bothered by my worries. Anyone should have a tree nearby, to remind them of their own pettiness. I know at least I need such a reminder every once in a while.
I had just finished moving the garden furniture, pulled the bulbs out by staring and now there is yet another very cold weekend on the way… I’d loved spending the weekend puttering outside, but I have chosen to stay in for now. Easter is on the way!
Sometimes a gardener has to be like the early Spring flowers. After a long winter there’s no huge display, just quiet enjoyment and opening yourself up to receive as much sunlight as you possibly can. Spring arrives rather late in my shady garden but the snowdrops and crocuses have finally caught on.
I have different kinds of crocuses, botanical and cultivars. I have noticed cultivars flower a bit later than the species. I started to plant bulbs in my garden four years ago. I have added a few every year. This year I get the idea they are finally spreading themselves a bit, which is very welcome. I would love a crowded spring bulb garden.There’s a catch, you have to be extra careful and early with clearing the remnants of last season. Despite being quiet online, I have been busy though, my list of jobs can soon be found in the Calender for March.
What makes a garden a good garden? Plants of course , that is a given for me. But apart from that? You’d say this is highly personal, according to personal preferences. I think there is more to it than that. I have seen a lot of different gardens, in all styles, shapes and sizes when I did the garden maintenance. In some gardens you immediately feel welcome and comfortable, others are chilly, inhospitable places. It has little to do with my own taste, or even the level of maintenance. Even the shabbiest gardens can still be a welcoming space.
A couple of years ago there was an article in Dutch gardening magazine Groei en Bloei which explained some basic principles in the layout of a succesful garden. In a Dutch garden park they have literally built the same garden a couple of times to illustrate this principle. I have studied a little garden design but I don´t think I have the spatial visualisation ability to determine what makes a space work or not. That is probably the gift of a good designer, to visualise a space where other people feel comfortable, without them truly knowing why. My appreciation for a place comes exclusively from the feel I get at a certain place. I like it when a garden has an sense of intimacy. That is actually the origin of the word “garden”, an enclosed, safe place to be. A home around your home.
I do know that there is no better way to achieve this feeling than by planting shrubs and trees, and of course a hedge. Although I’m still working on the hedge list, it is on the site now and I’ll add and translate along the way.
One of the words that keep coming up in the news about the financial world is a hedge fund. I still do not really understand what a hedge fund is. The word hedge fund for me still makes me think of well…, a hedge. Now I’m thinking of it, to some extent a hedge can also be compared to a fund or a financial product of some kind. In the beginning you invest time, effort and also money. Once established, it needs a little maintenance. Some hedges are almost indestructible, rock solid investments if you like, others do their job for a few decades, and then they’re done. Just like in the financial world, disaster can strike, and leave you with empty hands. It happened to us when we bought the house, the Leylandii hedge died on us and at least 40 metres of hedge had to be replanted.
On the whole, however, I’d say a hedge is a great investment. Enjoyment is almost guaranteed, not only for yourself, but also for the birds, insects and other inhabitants of your garden. Talk about return on investment!
I used to do a little garden maintenance while my small children were at school, before I went back to an office job. A recurring chore was trimming the hedges. I was never very good at it, luckily I had a colleague who was. He trimmed them so neat, it looked like I had been done by a award winning hairdresser. I did get a good sense of what the challenges and advantages are in the most common species, though. I really cannot say what my favourite hedge is, they all have their quirks and perks. Friends and family often ask me what would be a good hedge for them. My answer usually is: depends….what you expect from a hedge. How much money do want to spend, are you willing to be patient or trim a lot? I’m working on a chart with characteristics of various hedges. I’d love to hear which species are your favourites and why.