April turns out to be my best month in 2018

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

After 4 cycles of chemotherapy in  3 and a half months from the beginning of January, with numerous debilitating side effefcts, I was delighted when my oncologist informed me in late March that because the treatment had slowed the progression of my cancer, there was no need for  me to have the further two cycles that it was originally planned for me to have  especially as it was having an adverse effect on my quality of life. It will still take in excess of 4 weeks for my body to start to recover and for me to rebuild my strength and fitness

I can return to a normal diet and to meet up with friends and attend club meetings of our Hardy Plant Society Group. I am feeling better already but there is some room for further improvement However there are plenty of less strenuous jobs jobs to do all over the garden which I have been dying to get done and friends have pitched in to do the more onerous tasks which has been an enormous help. It is so good to feel almost normal again and to lose myself in the gardens which is where I always am at this time of year with so much to do.


Our first outing for 4 months was to Cardiff RHS Flower show




A typical April with very changeable weather ranging from cold to hot and  wet to dry. Two spiteful frosts in the last 2 days of the month played havoc with a wide variety of plants affected including persicarias, podophylums, hydrangeas and corylopsis. 13 days with sun max 20C, 21 rain days min -2.5C on 3 occasions,  2 inches of rain recorded


Garden Update

Lawn mowing started again on 9 April with the grass having grown vigorously after treatment with lawn weed and feed and plenty of rain. Weeding the borders was less onerous than I can ever remember after the early application of Glyphosate to all the weeds that were showing in February. It turned out be a great success and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Help came in the form of our friends Bob and Annette, Bob with his dining fork to prick out the most recalcitrant of weeds that had missed the treatment, and Annette tidying all the pots in the nursery to make them ready for sale.



 A well deserved tea break with Bob and Annette



 The first cut of the Paddock garden lawn and look at those tidy borders


When the vegetable beds had dried sufficiently our friend Robert who has been my lawns guru for some years showed his versatlity by rotovating the beds to make them ready to get the vegetables in. Somewhat later than usual,  because of the poor weather early on in the month. but planting and sowing seeds will take place as conditions permit and the soil warms up. So far there are potatoes, onions and early brassicas, carrots and beetroot in the ground and plenty more to come with all the tender veg like beans, courgettes, celeriac and sweetcorn growing on in pots in the tunnels until it is safe to plant them out after hardening off in the cold frames.


Just in time after the rotovating was completed there was some heavy rain and Kit Kat came to inspect the fine work. There is nothing I like better than the earthy smell of freshly turned soil and the prospect of all the crops to come over a long period

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In the tunnels, which have cost me a fortune to heat this year!! there are many fine plants which need to be  potted on or pricked out and watered well on fine sunny days as they dry out so quickly particularly plants you would not expect to like salvias and pelargoniums. A presssing priority is now to make room to place  the tomatoes in large pots -, about 30 + plants in total:- trying to make amends for the very poor season last year. 


What's looking good?

A gallery of pics to illustrate some of the very best


Daffodils in variety and a particularly good show of honesty

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Even before plants reach maturity and they were very slow this  Spring some plants like this hosta can still look attractive. This is always the stage that I scatter slug pellets which I find most effective

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 After a long wait the shrubs began to flower and this old magnolia stellata put on a great show as it always does



And the first of the viburnums, carlessii, has gorgeous pink fading white flowers and the stongest perfume of any of variety  in the garden. Not bad for a very old and increasingly weedy shrub


 The promise of flowers to come on  cardiocrinum giganteum one of 10 mature plants in the gardens. They stood the cold weather very well. Unlike those in pots, 2 years off flowering, which I foolishly left outside in the nursery and were wrecked by the continuing cold



 Paris polyphylla in humus rich soil in a choice shady spot. A good ground cover and intriguing flowers



 Podyphyllum "Spotty Dotty" looking much better than it did a few days later when scorched by the late frosts


 The first hosta to break leaves was "Wolverine" a choice selection and a manageable size at 18 - 20" across



There is a good variety of later flowering daffodils in the gardens and a special favourite is cyclamineus "Jenny"


As the daffodils fade a selection of erythroniums begin to flower particularly "Pagoda"



This particularly fine atragene clematis that came to me as seed from the British Clematis Society labelled as c. Alpina but has turned out to be very large flowered an unusual hybrid in an attactive shade of clear blue 



Another atragene clematis is macropetala "Markahams Pink"part of a large collection of this group that we have scattered all over the gardens normally growing up shrubs which I believe is the best way to present them.



Wildlife and countryside

Swallows only seen once on 20 April, the latest I have seen the first one for many years. The Mallard duck is often seen on the Paddock Pond but not with any mate nor the hoped for ducklings.

Wild flowers on the other hand have put  on a great show in fields and woods and  along roadside verges and in some of the public gardens we have visited.


 On an embankment on the A40  just outside Llandeilo is a collection of primulas, some of which appear to have hybridised into interesting forms







A fine spring meadow of ladies smock, fritillaria meleagris and dandelions at Aberglasney gardens

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And a fine naturalised bluebell wood also at Aberglasney, the best stand of bluebells we have seen so far



 Pussy willow at Cilgwyn Lodge 



Lambs in the surrounding fields continue to grow and the older they get the more thugish they become, butting each other, running away from their mothers and every Spring they play havoc with the plastic sheeting covering next years firewood logs. They are obsessed with it!



So good at last to start visiting gardens and shows and feeling well enough to enjoy them


Our first outing was to Llwyn Garreg the superb garden of friends Liz and Paul and one of the finest of many fine NGS gardens any where in Wales. The latest addition of a Japanese red bridge has just been completed For more info about the garden go to www.llwyngarreg.co.uk



 There is always something new to admire in this fabulous garden and this pic shows in the foreground,  last years project a sunken garden built by Paul of stone from the garden



 Cardiff RHS show





 Our friend Richard Bramley of Farmyard Nurserie put on an excellent display of spring flowering woodlanders which surprisingly was only awarded a Silver Gilt Medal


 Every year there  is always a teriffic display of daffodils by Ron Scamp from Cornwall a major breeder with some stunning selections.


 It is a great time to show off daffodils but it always amazes me how the exhibitors manage to put on such a fine display of tender flowers and plants out of season.



Dibleys Nursery can always be relied upon to put on a great show of begonias which I am very fond of  and my eye caught this recent introduction. "Silver Spirit  a cross between a foliage and a cane begonia




 Cardiff Castle in Bute Park which has a marvellous collection of magnolias which are always at their best in time for the Show


 And the most recent trip was to Abergalsney Gardens which just gets better and better every year. Membership is great value, especially when we are only 20 minutes from there and at last we joined up to be able to visit the garden in all seasons open every day save Christmas Day





A particularly fine large flowered cornus 








For more info go to www.aberglasney.org