They might not look much, but to me these plants represent new beginnings in the garden we purchased recently. I’ve decided to work along the boundary fence first which will be least affected by the wall being rebuilt on the other side of the garden. The garden is quite windy as there are nothing but fields behind us, so I’ll need to use some plants to act as a windbreak.
The first plant I chose for this purpose was Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’, or flowering currant as it’s known colloquially (below). I’m a sucker for pink, purple and red plants, and the form you are mostly likely to see in gardens is one of the dark pink varieties. For some reason, however, I really love this white version and the flowers really do drip from the branches like icicles. Added to this, the foliage smells like Ribena! Ribes are also as tough as old boots and can withstand a range of pH values and growing conditions. If needed, they should be pruned just after flowering.
In front of the Ribes I’ve planted daffodil ‘Ice Follies’ (below left). Ice Follies is a tall daffodil with a white perianth (petals) and a flattened inner corona of creamy yellow. It also multiplies readily. I didn’t split the bunch as they are well on their way to flowering and I didn’t want to shock them. It’s one of my favourite daffodils as it does well wherever you put it and I love the pale colours. In my last garden I planted it on a grassy bank and it did well year after year. If you want to read more about daffodils, please see my blog post about them.
This is the first time I have dug in the new garden area and I was surprised to find that the soil was actually relatively crumbly under the grass layer, as I had expected to find clay. We get a lot of rain in Cumbria and the ground quickly turns to mud on my well-worn route to the birdfeeder during the winter, so I want to add extra grit and soil conditioner to the ground to aid drainage whenever I plant something. The crumbly soil texture was very encouraging however.
Soil conditioner, be it a specially-made product like ‘Just Naturally’ or well-rotted manure, should be dug through the existing soil prior to planting. As well as adding nutrients, it helps to break up heavy soils and aid drainage. Conversely, on poor or sandy soils it adds body and keeps hold of moisture. Adding a layer of grit, especially under bulbs, helps to prevent them rotting in damp conditions.
Unfortunately the weather is changing constantly and there haven’t been many breaks in the rain for me to get out and plant anything else. My Ribes and Ice Follies look a little forlorn all alone in their field, but hopefully it won’t be too long until they have some companions!