Ursula's Cambridge Garden

Professional gardener and plantswoman writing from my small urban garden in a great city

Spring is in the air



Autumn used to be the time gardeners stormed through their gardens tidying everything away ruthlessly.  However, since Piet Oudolf taught us all to love autumn grasses and winter seed heads, things have shifted to an end of February clear up instead, which is actually a very satisfactory time to clear everything away and make way for the new gardening year powering in.


Tiny poppy seeds skeleton no bigger than my little finger found whilst clearing away winter debri

This is the best time to cut down ornamental grasses, and to observe close up all the bulbs and perennials you may have forgotten about pushing up through the soil already.

Whilst the great spring tidy is underway one has time to really appreciate everything that is getting started. Here in my south-facing border the massed planting of tulips are all getting away from the starting blocks, with leaves of Gladiolus byzantium edging the path…


And in this image you can really see the layers of the border in the making – Ballota in the foreground, Centaurea and Aquilegia in the middle, and alliums, tulips and bearded iris in the background – all just in leaf at the moment, but a study in the different qualities of spring green, to lift the spirits and wet our appetite for the summer show to come.


 Here bearded irises, Asphodeline, Eremurus and daylilies are all pushing up in my ‘bakers’ bed’ at the start of March..


and in the same stretch of bed, photographed from the other side, a few weeks later, the bearded irises have advanced rapidly as well as the Asphodeline in the foreground.


Dicentra spectabilis is also starting to come back – a very tough and reliable do-er.


And the beauty of Alchemilla mollis emerging from winter has a dolls-house quality as its leaves are initially so miniature.


As well as all this wonderful greenery, there are some significant flowering highlights for this early spring period in my garden which include  –

Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’


The wonderful acid green of Euphorbia characias wulfennii



Viola – great self-seeders and all round survivors


Grape hyacinths




The native primrose which I inherited and which self seeds itself everywhere with grace and ease and is tougher than it looks


And, of course, last but not least, daffodils the cheery harbringer of spring no garden can be without!


Narcissus ‘Jenny’ in front, and ‘Jetfire’ behind



I have also re-vamped  the planting directly under my Quince tree having removed a huge Anemanthele lessoniana which was taking up alot of soil space (I already have four of its offspring self seeded in the garden!) so that I could plant more hellebores for spring, more snowdrops and for the first time, Japanese anemones,  as I have never grown these wonderful plants before.  This spot will be shady for them, along with perennial foxgloves grown for me from seed by my mother.  I look foward to reporting back on this new planting as the summer progresses and in future springs.


Since I last wrote in the winter depths of February I have also celebrated my birthday…


Gorgeous flower cakes by my talented mother

…got an A grade for my KLC Garden Design course second module project (hurray) and got a new external down pipe for my boiler pressure tank. I only mention this last apparently incongrous happening,  because it, of course, presented a planting opportunity! (for another Clematis armandii to keep my Clematis tangutica company – presently cut to the base ready for its new growth).


Next month I have been asked to write a piece for KLC’s Blog as a guest writer so do drop by here in due course to read that.

And, of course, I will be off to Chelsea Flower Show in May, from which I will be happily reporting – until then, happy spring gardening!


Miniature watercolour daffodil by my youngest son, Josiah Williams



8 thoughts on “Spring is in the air

  1. lovely pictures.My dwarf irises were very early and unlike the crosuses dont spend all their time keeling over.Primroses are in danger of becoming boring as they seem to flower for months.I have one camelia in a tub which is glorious ,donation,as the ground is neutral but i love them and may try risking it in the garden.The president of the camelia society told me once that good drainage was the most important thing for their success rather than ph.Keep us abreast! Wayne

  2. Fabulous, fabulous as always, Ursula. Thanks. Sheer delight. Wonderful to follow what is happening at the other end of the world as we head into winter here in Australia. Wayne’s comments re daffodils makes me smile – ours are over in a mere two to three weeks (the duration of our “spring” as the temperature rises. Camellias galore, though, throughout winter. Busy picking sasanquas now.

    Terrific, too, to meet old friends like your parents and Wayne via this slightly unusual route.

    Cheers, Sue and Roger from Down Under

    • Dear Sue – thanks so much for commenting really much appreciated. So glad you enjoy reading my blog – a little reminder of England. Great to think of you all in Australia in a different gardening head set with winter! Lovely to hear from you happy gardening, love Ursula

  3. Congratulations on your A grade! How many more modules have you still to do? And also on your upcoming post for KLC. I’ll be taking a look. Do you get to choose the subject or is it set for you? Your garden, too, is coming alive beautifully. I’m still waiting for my Clematis armandii to open.

    • Thanks for all your kind words! Its great to have people willing you forward…I have four more mammoth modules to go yet, but it’s very interesting if hard work. I can choose my own topics for the KLC blog so watch that space! Hope your armandii does it’s stuff soon, and happy gardening…thanks so much for reading and commenting, kind regards Ursula

  4. Dear Ursula, I loved all your beautiful and thoughtful photographs, especially the Hellebores and the Narcissi. All the shrubs and perennials that you planted for me 3 years ago are powering away now, filling in all those bare spaces-I hardly need to do any weeding now. I have several varieties of Hellebores -my favourite plant (with Geraniums) and I am thinking of getting some more -maybe you could help me choose some? At the moment we have a three week old Muntjac `nesting` in the round bed that you planted under the Yew. We hope that the baby and mother will be reunited soon. We loved Joss`s watercolour. Looking forward to the KCL Blog. Love Mum

  5. Mother dear thanks for the lovely comment and for reading…yes we must sort more Hellebores! Ursula x

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