Our apologies but the garden will be closed for a private event today from 1pm. Open as usual from tomorrow.
Parsnips, grown from a few shrivelled old roots stuck in the ground at winter's end, are flowering. The flat heads of luminous yellow/green flowers are opening, to delight hungry hover flies. Our gardener is liking them too, he'll be chucking parsnip seed into the borders for a repeat appearance next year. Grown from seed these should make for stronger plants with even better flowering, to carry the yellow/green 'umbel' theme forward as the fading stems of early Alexanders' domed green heads - below - get cut down.
We have finally received the new garden lease documents and trustees, in turn and as shown here, have signed them in the garden office. They are now on their way back to Camden council for the Mayoral signature and stamp. Following this, the new 20 year Phoenix Garden lease will be in place. Hooray!
You may be thinking, that after the many years invested in getting to this moment, we could have planned for a rather more picturesque setting for the occasion. Not to worry though, no doubt we'll all be getting very picturesque at the celebration party - as our gardener says, planning ahead, "I'm going to get very, very drunk!"
The first of the Giant Bugloss, Echium pininana, have opened their flowers. Endemic to the Canaries, half-hardy and vulnerable to hard-frost, they enjoyed the mild winter and this year's display looks to be spectacular. Arising from the big bristly rosettes of foliage, the flowering stems grew quickly once the weather warmed and they may tower to 3m. Thousands of small blue or white flowers will open in succession for months, much to the delight of hungry bees. They will die after flowering, all their energies spent after producing vast quantities of seeds - seedlings will appear all over the garden wherever the soil is disturbed.
Yesterday's plant give-away proved popular, and lots of lunchtime visitors went away with their own little piece of the Phoenix Garden. For some, it was clear, the packages of bare-root bits, didn't quite cut the mustard - "they all look dead!" - but there were plenty willing to take the horticultural leap of faith. Lucky them!
Tomorrow, we will be giving away bare-root divisions of two of the Phoenix Garden's feature plants; Geranium x oxonianum 'Claridge Druce' and Symphytum 'Hidcote Blue'. Both are tough hardy perennials - both are bomb-proof. Both are available as beautifully wrapped bare-roots, ready to grow away if you simply stick them in the ground.
Geranium 'Claridge Druce' makes big weed-proof mounds of foliage 70cm across and produces soft-lilac/pink flowers from May until September. It is drought tolerant and trouble free, the only attention it needs is for the whole clump to be cut right down after mid-summer to refresh it - it grows back quickly with fresh foliage and even more flowers.
Symphytum 'Hidcote Blue', a comfrey, low-growing it makes good groundcover for sun or shade, with weed-suppressing mats of bristly foliage - it is great in dry shade under shrubs or trees. From March to May it produces soft blue/white flowers unfurling from red buds. Early bees find it irresistible.
Bare-root Planting Instructions:
Dig a hole big enough for the roots.
Plant them - remember... 'green up/brown down'
Firm soil gently around the roots - a gentle tug on the leaves shouldn't pull it up.
Chuck a bucket of water over them, once or twice till established.
(it really is this easy)
Please help yourself from the crates. Limited numbers, so when they're gone, they're gone. Of course - feel free to make a donation via the donation button on our website, here.
A view from the back of the garden, showing the freshest green of spring. The red highlight is Jane from the garden committee, convincing one rather amorous visitor that the gardener is not her husband - as our gardener says "the sun does bring them out!".
On the North End railings the wonderfully named Wonga-Wonga vine is just coming into flower. This half-hardy twining vine rarely makes it through hard winters with it's flower buds intact - these are formed in the autumn and are often shrivelled by frost - but the mild winter has allowed them to make it through. The first have just opened their apricot and plum bells and by the looks of the many dusty purple buds the display this year will go on for weeks.
Wonga-wonga vine, Pandorea pandorana, originates from Australia and the southwestern Pacific region. It is an evergreen twining climber that requires shelter, sun and good drainage. It has proved remarkably hardy and drought tolerant at the Phoenix. Our plant has also proved to be remarkably resilient to the irritating attentions of vandals hands, having grown back repeatedly from having it's stems cut through.
Following the completion of work to the garden walls and to allow us to make the area safe, the garden will be closed to the public from 26th February, re-opening on Monday 2nd March.