I think it is safe to say, if my aching muscles are anything to go by, that I have had a good gardening weekend at last. Though to be honest it has taken a lot of determination not to just give up. Whilst the weather has been demoralising at times the reason for my despair has been the badger. I have blogged about the badger throughout the last winter and tried to be light-hearted about it calling it the ‘tulip craved badger’ but if I am honest it has driven me to even consider throwing in the towel and moving. People under-estimate how strong and destructive badgers can be, they are also very determined. I have tried very hard to live and let live but when you go morning after morning to discover another collection of deep holes with bulbs chewed and scattered, and not just tulips, and other surrounding plants damaged and dug up with their roots nicely frosted it takes a better person than me to shrug their shoulders. I decided last week that I would dig up the remaining tulips, a dozen left from over 60 planted over the last two years, in order to try to protect the other plants in the border. Then on Thursday the boys told me there were two badgers in the garden, not one. This was a badger too far – two would soon lead to three, then four and then, well it doesn’t bear thinking about. I spent the evening doing more research and found a helpful document on the Badger Society website. They advised that it was not the best idea to put food out for badgers in order to detract them from your plants as all you would end up with is more badgers – this was contrary to advice I had received via social media. They advised removing bird food and wind falls before dark so there is no point in the badgers coming in the garden. They also advised in using paving slabs along the bottom of fences sunk into the soil to try to prevent the badgers coming under the fence. Being at the end of my tether I decided it was all or nothing. So, the bird feeders have been removed and the tulips dug up. My sons have sunk some paving slabs along the fence line (our neighbour who is next on the badger’s route had done the same last week and thought it was successful). So far the badgers haven’t been back. I feel bad about the birds and I miss them but the surrounding gardens are full of bird feeders and the alternative was to just give up on my hobby. Fingers crossed we might have made progress. Maybe one day the bird feeder will come back.
Feeling a little more positive and trying to convince myself that any work in the garden won’t be trashed I have been very busy working my way through the ridiculous list of jobs that need doing. First I moved an Abelia from the front garden and planted it by the new steps, where it will screen the fence. I’ve started moving the plants where the workshop is going to go with a large iris being the first to pack its bags. It wasn’t very happy in its old home so I am hoping that moving it to the sunny side of the steps will cheer it up, within 24 hours it looked a more perky.
I have also potted up some succulents as I have a notion to enter them into the Open Garden section at the Malvern Spring show, something some gardening friends have been encouraging me to do. I got enthusiastic about alpines and other potted plants I think as a direct result of my inability to control the damage the badger was doing but it is definitely a good development and I have met some great people.
The rest of my gardening time I have spent working through the border along the top of the wall (below), removing the debris of the tulips, filling holes, cutting back frosted shoots and planting out delphiniums, evening primrose, verbascum, francoa, forget-me-nots and geraniums. These plants were all grown last year and have been taking up room on the patio and in the cold frames and they needed to be moved on and planted out. I have struggled with this mentally as I will be digging up the lawn soon so the front edge of the border will then be the middle of the border. However, if I waited until I dug the new border I would never get the plants in the ground and it would all just grind to a halt so I have decided to do all my garden tidying jobs etc and then do the new border. At least these way I might have some nice borders in early summer – fingers crossed.
There seems to be a lot of bare earth but all those little glimpses of green, grey and red are shoots emerging and pushing through the soil. The hose is out as the ground is quite dry and given the number of plants I have planted I decided this was an easier approach than watering cans.
Working through the border was the best thing I could have done today as I kept spotting new shoots emerging and old friends reappearing. My Meconopsis has reappeared which is fabulous as I wasn’t sure if it was a monocarpic variety or not, fingers crossed it will flower for a second year. Various plants are appearing in the woodland border and I can start to see what I need to move to make the woodland path work but that is for later in the year.
Plus my tin bath of tulip bulbs is looking good and has escaped the attention of the badger. I crammed it with reduced bulbs bought at the end of the bulb buying season so it should be garish, bright and jolly. I have also really tidied the patio and put out the little table and chairs so there is now somewhere nice to sit with a cuppa – its only taken five years.
As I have said before I feel that I neglected the garden for two years while I was playing at growing veg at the allotment. All I see at the moment is the jobs that need doing to try to bring it back to scratch but as many gardener will tell you we are our own worst critics. The trouble is I am juggling jobs to bring the garden back to how I want it plus the new projects plus the annual seed sowing etc!! However the weather forecast is looking promising and I think with slightly warmer temperatures I will be able to do a little bit of gardening in the evenings and to be honest if something doesn’t get done it won’t be the end of the world there is always next year – for that is the beauty of gardening as a hobby.