Encouraging grow th
A while ago, I said that I cut back all epimediums in late March-early April. I was wrong. I did this a couple of years ago and lost three mature clumps of E. x omeiense types. This could have been a combination of frost nipping now unprotected newly emerging growth, and snail/slug activity. I dug up the clumps and potted bits on, but they never recovered. The only one I cut back to the ground now is E. x rubrum. The rest just get a tidy later on. In the mostly grasses bed, we’ve been living with the ghosts of last year’s grasses, sedums and Verbena bonariensis. It’s time to cut most plants back hard to let emerging growth through. The bed looks devoid of life for a while but, bit by bit, plants reawaken, starting with the cheerful little white and yellow starry flowers of Tulipa turkestanica in April. I must admit a certain fleeting satisfaction is to be had from this rather brutal razing. Another task for early April is sowing tomatoes and peppers, earlier for those with growth rooms and heated greenhouses. I’m sticking to European tommies this year. The US-sourced varieties I’ve grown for the last couple of years haven’t performed well for me. ‘Gardener’s Delight’ is back on the list, as is ‘Pantano’, an Italian beefsteak type. A small gnarly sweet pepper, ‘Friggitello’, works well for me, so I’ll be growing it again this year. A job for a nice sunny day in late March is planting potatoes, which this year are ‘Belle de Fontenay’, ‘Vitelotte’ and ‘Pink Fir Apple’.
‘Pink Fir Apple’, Solanum tuberosum, salad potatoes in a recycled egg tray, chitted in March and ready for planting out.