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Looking ahead to spring

Posted: Friday 20 September 2013
by Kate Bradbury

As the honeysuckle flowers become berries and the herbaceous plants fade, my spring-flowering plants are stepping up a gear.

Speckled foliage of pulmonaria

My honeysuckle is still in bloom. My pot of cosmos is still looking good, and my salvia, cranesbills and nepeta are just about clutching onto summer, although their flowers are looking a little tired now. The bees that visit them are also past their best – it won’t be long before the first frost of autumn finally finishes everything off. But as the honeysuckle flowers become berries and the herbaceous plants fade, my spring-flowering plants are stepping up a gear.

I barely notice the lungwort (Pulmonaria) in summer. The plants are usually hidden beneath something more showy. But as everything else shrinks back, I can see they've been putting on growth. Their soft, green leaves, mottled with pale dots (said to resemble lung disease, hence the name), are growing into sizeable clumps.

Like other spring woodland plants, lungwort does well in shade, and perfectly complements other early flowering favourites such as hellebores and primroses. I only grow the one cultivar, ‘Mrs Moon’, which I brought from my mum’s garden a few years ago. It spreads nicely and divides well, and I now have several clumps in the garden. Their pink and purple flowers, which appear from February to May, provide an early source of food for bees, and are a particular favourite of the hairy-footed flower bee.

Spring is also the time when my green roof looks its best. Even though March is five long months away, I’ve started to give the roof some attention. I’ve been weeding out unwanted plants and filling gaps – I’ve even added a clump of lungwort. The primroses, dog violets and oxlips are also bulking up, and I can’t wait to see them in flower.

Looking around the garden this morning, I wondered which plant would be the last one in flower this year, and which would be the first of 2014. Of course, it would eventually be nice to bridge the gap, so that there’s always something in bloom.

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oldchippy 22/09/2013 at 21:24

under my honeysuckle there is a mahonia so the paving under that has red berries and black berries crushed over the surface plus heavy staining from the honeysuckle,I have resorted to using patio cleaner(acid) not very good for the environment .