Six on Saturday – 22nd June 2019

A stunningly beautiful day today; the sun is shining, there is a light breeze and the birds are singing.  Well for some of the day but with the sunshine comes the fair weather gardeners and the peace is shattered by the sound of lawn-mowers and strimmers and no doubt later the air will be full of the waft of BBQ smoke but at least its not raining and it does actually feel like June.

Salvia Hot Lips

I popped into the local garden centre on the way home from work yesterday just to buy a bag of compost and a hanging basket. I came home with two bags of compost, a bag of horticultural grit and a bag of sharp sand, fertilizer, a hanging basket, three heathers (don’t laugh), two trays of bedding dianthus, two salvias and an eryngium. But in my defence they were all considered and planned purchases.  The compost, gravel and sand were needed so I could sort out the pots on the patio and also my succulent collection which is in desperate need of tidying up and potting on.  The dianthus are for a couple of shallow pots to add some colour by the front door and on the patio and have already been potted up and are on display.  The salivas and eryngium are just want I need to add to the Big Border grassland style planting (I use that term very loosely) and fill the gaps left by the oriental poppy which I removed last week and the heathers are an experiment for under the big field maple to add some interest in the summer.

Salvia Lipstick

The salvias and eryngium have already been planted and I think the top photo shows how well the salvias have blended into the existing planting but lifted it a little.

Eryngium Picos Amethyst

The heathers aren’t planted yet as I have to do quite  bit of preparation work in the area before they are planted and I think I want to mulch around them so I need to get some wood chip ready.  Its meant to rain heavily in a few days so I might take advantage of the ground being wet and put the mulch on afterwards to try and retain the moisture.

Here is another view of the Big Border from the other side and end.  I really like how full it is and I am enjoying the combination of the baby blue geranium with the unopened flowers of Anthemis ‘Sauce Hollandaise’. I have no idea what the geranium is.  I have quite a few which I have acquired over the years as I feel I should like geraniums but they have never really performed that well until this year.  I think it is a combination of the neglect of the last few years, the fact that the poor things haven’t been moved for a while, and the significant rain we have had.  They are really looking great at the moment.

The final photo is of my patio which I spent several hours sorting out this morning.  It needs a weed but everything that needs to be planted out has been planted out; everything that needs to be potted up has been potted up and its all neat and tidy. Tomorrow the plan is to get up early and tackle the greenhouse before it warms up too much.

For the triumphs and tribulations of other gardeners this week check out the links in the comment box on The Propagators weekly meme –

Six on Saturday – Returning from Sicily

I’ve been away for just over a week touring Sicily.  The weather was very much as we have had in the last few days – low 20s but for Sicily this is much cooler than normal.  However, for me, considering we were sightseeing and walking lots the temperature was just about right and I avoided the days of rain back home that my son reported.  Needless to say all that rain and then sun has encourged the garden to put a spurt on and I don’t think it has ever been so full and lush; so I thought I would show you around my gardening space – well the back garden.

The first thing you need to understand is that I live on the lower slopes of the Malvern Hills and so my garden slopes.  As you come out of the house there is a narrowish patio and my dinky greenhouse and then a flight of stairs to the actual garden.  At the top of the stairs which are in the furthest right hand corner, if you turn left, you will find a bark path which runs between two borders (you can also check out the garden plan on the blog, although it is a little out of date but it should help). So if you look at the plan you will see that the bark path runs between the ‘Cottage/Rose border’ and the ‘Big Border’.

To give you an idea of the angle of my garden the above photo was taken standing on a bench outside my kitchen door. The prostrate rosemary grows over the retaining wall and the bark path (above) runs behind the rosemary.

At the end of the bark path you curve round to the ‘Woodland Border’.  When this border was created the boundary with my neighbours was completely overgrown and full of large trees so my garden was in deep shade at this end.  The new neighbours cleared the boundary about two years ago and light has flooded in.  I found it challenging to start with as I felt I had lost my privacy but the garden has really benefitted and the trees and shrubs I had planted on my side of the boundary in anticpation of such an approach by whoever moved in are now growing well so my privacy is returning. The reduction in shade in this area means I can add more summer flowers to this part of the garden.

The bark path connects up to the grass path and the steps to the top of the garden.  These used to lead, until last summer, to a further path along the very top of the garden.  The top of the slope was always a challenge and so last year I removed the top path and I have planted the whole of the slope more densely with lots of foliage interest throughout the year.

Zooming in a bit to the area behind the bird table.  Until last year my compost bins lived here but I decided that I’m not cut out to make good compost and it was just to much effort so I go rid of the bins and I now use the council green waste collection scheme which works much beter for me.  Plus I now have another area to plant up with shrubs and ferns all of which are benefitting from the remains of the compost that had accumulated here.  This area has, in the last week, taken on a very special significance for me as my beloved cat sadly passed away last week when I was away.  She had suffered something akin to a stroke back at the start of March and initially lost the use of her back legs.  Over the next 6 weeks she got this back but still didn’t seem to have feeling in one paw and then she went downhill.  The vet thinks she may have had another blood clot in her system somewhere and in the end this resulted in her only having 25% use of her lungs. I am so proud of my sons with how they dealt with the situation and that we had had the difficult conversations before I went away and they knew exactly where I wanted her buried.  It is hard at the moment, I keep thinking I hear her or I come across one of her toys, but we rescued her some 8 years ago and she had a wonderful life, ruling the roost, hunting mice and chasing any neighbouring cats off her property.  She will be dearly missed.

Pulling myself back together if you turn 90% from the steps above you have what used to the pond, and then the bog garden and is now a largish shady border.  This is the border which I built a low retaining wall along earlier this year.  On the other side of the border is another bark path which slowly disappears as the year progresses and the plants get bigger.

And from there you can go along the grass path back to the shed and steps.  So thats a sort of tour around the main back garden.

Thanks to The Propogator for hosting this great meme

End of Month View – April 2018

I’m choosing to resist the temptation to bemoan the weather over the last month and instead celebrate the abundance in my borders.

The tipsy pots are a clear indicator of the absence of the gardener for most of this past month.  Life has been busy with little time to garden but I had a wonderful long weekend last week in Newcastle upon Tyne at the Quilters Guild conference learning lots of new techniques and making new friends.

The weather while I was away was stunning, temperatures up in the 20Cs, which coupled with all the moisture that has accumulated over the past months resulted in a significant growth spurt in the garden during my absence.

The tulips that were only thinking of forming buds are now flowering, and new shoots abound with peonies, geraniums and hosta foliage adding a wonderful freshness and sense of anticipation.

Unusually for me I am really pleased with my garden.  I love the density of the planting which has occurred despite me and due to my lack of gardening last year.  I know full well that if I had seen my border last year looking as per the top photo with the trillium poking its head out among the pulmonaria I would have been busy cutting back the pulmonaria so the trillium was more obvious; this though leaves the plants appearing as isolated islands. Through neglecting the garden and spending less time fussing I have learnt that I love this fuller look.

And this month the garden will all be about the Camassias which are just coming into their own and sadly I will probably miss while I am away at the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling in Austin, Texas.

So that was my garden at the end of April 2018.  I invite you to join in with the End of Month Meme.  You can use it however you like all I ask if that you link to this post and leave a link to your post in the comment box below.

 

Notes from the Garden – 5/2/17

img_9248-1

What a glorious treat, two whole days of gardening, in fact the first real gardening time this year.  What with injuring my arm just after Christmas planting a Sorbus in the front garden and the icy or wet weekends January was a very frustrating month.  However, it did allow a lot of time to ponder and plan and to think about possible plant combinations as well as ordering far too many random packets of seeds.  Today, with some freezing weather forecast again later in the week I decided to sow those seeds that need a period of cold to help them germinate.

img_9238-1

Whilst sowing the first seeds of the year is quite exciting what is really exciting is finishing the edging of the bottom path to give me more structure and order.  I suspect I wrote previously about the thick wood edging to the Big Border, this weekend narrow wood edging went in on the bottom side of the path. I didn’t want to replicate the thick wood as it would have felt like a channel rather than a path plus I wanted a softer edge with plants tumbling over it. The stepping down of the wood size also reflects the way the garden slopes down. I’m hugely grateful to my eldest son for finishing the edging for me.  The plan is to top dress the path with a thick layer of wood chip.  I pondered about gravel as this would link to the gravel steps that the path runs from but after much debating we decided to go for wood chip as it would work well with the wood edging – although I’m not 100% but we will see.

img_9252-1

Today I finally got to tidy the bottom border and re-organise it, putting some of my January ponderings into action.  I decided back last year that this border needed a clearer focus building on the roses already in place so I have decided to add herbs.  There was already a bay standard and purple sage in the border and today I added parsley, lavender, more sage, chives, oregano, and sweet cicely. In addition there are some foxgloves, alliums, dianthus, aquilegias, sedums, and assorted geraniums.  Hopefully, I will eventually get an English style rose/herb border with plants spilling onto the path all using plants already in the garden.

Now to plan for the next gardening day…..

End of Month View – November 2016

img_8799-1

I initially started this post by saying that as I have been away most of November very little has happened to Hugh’s Border, the focus of this year’s End of Month View.  How very presumptuous of me! Of course things have happened as Nature has no interest in whether or not I am present to witness the seasonal changes, nor does she really need me to assist her.

img_8814-1

If I am honest this time of year is very helpful in re-engaging my interest as I do enjoy tidying in the garden and I spent a happy couple of hours after taking these photos dead-heading, weeding and clearing up.  It is so satisfying to see a tidy border especially when you compare it to a shambolic one next door.

img_8810

Whilst Hugh’s Border has sat there minding its own business slowly fading into it’s winter slumbers there have been changes elsewhere.  I have a need to improve the structure of the garden which has been a little Heath Robinson in the past.  I doubt very much that any self-respecting landscaper would think the updates are much of an improvement on Heath Robinson but we take what we can get and the thick board edges to the Big Border are already changing the feel of the space. Previously the edging was made up of a collection of Malvern stone but it was uneven and not clearly defined.  The intention is to repeat the edging on the other side of the path, but using narrower wood so the edging sort of steps down.  I am toying with what to finish the path with. It was originally wood chip which has a habit of breaking down and needing regularly updating; the other problem with wood chip is that at this time of year you end of up with brown borders and a brown path and it is all a little uninspiring.  Therefore I am thinking of finishing the path with gravel – despite the cat’s protests – as this would give a visual break to the border and will also link to the gravel steps that the path runs off.  We are also replacing the risers on the gravel steps as some of them are showing their age.

img_8813

There has been another key change in the garden which will have a significant impact and that is the removal of the majority of the trees from my neighbour’s garden.  Whilst I was away the tree surgeons have removed the large sycamore tree which was planted on our boundary near the house, as well as some ash seedlings. They have also removed most of the trees along the far boundary so now on a good day we can see a wider view of the hills.  The light is positively flooding in, even on a grey autumnal day, so it will be fascinating to see how things hold up in the height of summer. Having spent some 10 years battling with shade it is quite strange to consider the option of more flowers and I have already found myself mentally changing the focus of what was the woodland border to something more floral.

However, whilst I am happy to embrace the challenge of new lighting to the garden I do miss the height that the trees bought.  Having received a photo from my son, during my travels, of the new garden view I spent some time day dreaming about potential trees that could be added to the garden.  I carried out a lot of research whilst on trains and buses, considered the various acers and sorbus in the Japanese gardens and then bought a Liquidamber on impulse from the local plant nursery this week. It’s already been planted with the expectation that the dark leaves will provide a good contrast to the green of the Euphorbia.

I could also bore you with my mini-rockery that I constructed last week but there really is nothing much to see at the moment but hopefully in the spring there will be something worth sharing.

Given the above I am hopefully that 2017 will bring more time and enthusiasm for the garden and that the quality of the posts on this blog will improve accordingly.

My Garden This Weekend – 9th October 2016

Amarine belladiva
Amarine belladiva

So its been many weeks, no months, since I wrote a ‘My garden this weekend’ post. I won’t bore you yet again with my emotional struggles with the garden and my lack of enthusiasm.  Suffice to say that this weekend I had to really push myself to get on with some of the tasks that are needed.  The patio is full of purchases from the summer that need planting out or I will be struggling over the winter to protect the plants.  However, of course it’s not that simple.  I bought the plants for a particular project – the Big Border revamp – but I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped.

I think I may have mentioned before that I want to replant the Big Border to benefit from the soil which drains very well. My plan is to use it for the various bulbs that I have a weakness for.  I think last weekend I reported that I had started to relocate some of the peonies to Hugh’s Border and I have added a couple of Miscanthus to the Big Border which weren’t happy behind the shed.

img_6733

Bits of it are coming together but the main part of the project is to formalise the lower edge of the Big Border.  The path has for some years been edged with Malvern stone found in the garden or logs from  tree pruning.  I have always gardened on a shoestring and never had funds for major landscaping so the garden has developed through hard work and making do with what was to hand.  When the Big Border went in around 4 years ago I wasn’t sure about the path and waited to see where the natural path appeared.  It’s all been a little Heath Robinson.  Originally the path was finished with woodchips but over the years this has disintegrated and the stone edging isn’t strong enough to clearly define the border from the path.  I need it to look smart and tidy.

The trouble is that I have concluded that I need structure and tidiness in my life or I become stressed.  With less time, energy or enthusiasm for the garden this year it has become untidy and this in turn has made it harder for me to re-engage as I just don’t know where to start.  I feel that if I can get some good structure or bones in place then the messiness won’t be so bad – just like edging the lawn makes a huge difference to a garden without you doing much else.  Thankfully funds are a little more plentiful these days and my long-suffering eldest has ‘volunteered’ to help me with putting in some thick wood edging.  Then, probably in the Spring, we will put some wood edging on the other side of the path but probably something thinner.  I will then cover the path probably with wood chip – the cat doesn’t approve of gravel!

img_6741I have moved all the plants along the path edge and the Malvern stone so my eldest can get on with the improvements.  We now have a large pile of Malvern stone to find something to do with. A suggestion has been made that I could use them to create a home for my hardy succulents, alpines and tiny bulbs.  I am resisting using the word ‘rockery’ as I really dislike rockeries but there is a small gem of an idea mumbling away at the back of my mind.

img_6740

In my bid to take control of the garden again I have seized the day and removed a couple of large shrubs that I haven’t liked for years.  One went from the border above, as did a large persicaria and some common ferns which swamped the area and used up all the moisture.  The photo doesn’t quite show you how much space there is here but  I am quietly excited as it’s quite a big space and will, after some feeding and soil improvement, provide a home for the remaining peonies that need rehoming.

Hopefully with all our efforts this Autumn the garden will be more manageable next year so I don’t feel I need to spend as much time working in it and I can do some of the other things I want to do without feeling guilty or maybe even just sit and enjoy the garden.

Plans are afoot

Beth Chatto's gravel garden
Beth Chatto’s gravel garden

My garden for the last 9 years or so has become my identity to many people particularly as I have been a serial blogger on the subject.  Even recently at work people have started to ask about my blog and I’ve heard the expression “Helen writes a gardening blog you know” more and more.  Something in me twitched at this.  I have always hated being pigeon-holed and railed against it.  But I also think I twitched as I felt guilty for not blogging much and because I have hardly been in the garden properly for some 6 weeks or maybe longer – a niggle of guilt has been eating away at me. I’m not so worried about the blog as I know my lack of interest is because with a new demanding job I am too tired to spend more time looking at a PC when I get home.  This assumption is backed up by my desire to blog today when I am on leave – I obviously need some sort of vehicle for my mental output.

 

As for the garden it has troubled me that I can’t get interested in it. I have struggled since the new neighbours cut down their new overgrown garden and left me with little privacy. I have also come to realise that my creative side needs projects to keep it interested and whilst there is plenty of maintenance needed which I enjoy most of the time I really need a project to get me properly engaged.  Having dug up the front lawn earlier this year and replanted the space I have been left wondering what to do.  I have even spent time looking at new houses but again my heart wasn’t in moving as I do like living here.

IMG_5663

Then something changed, it wasn’t a light bulb moment or any sort of revelation and I actually suspect that because I had had a quite week at work allowing me to catch up properly before a week’s leave that my head had cleared and allowed me space to think about the garden.  In addition I was home alone last week and found myself wandering around the garden with my morning cuppa  which led to pondering.

And you guess right a new project has come about and I am a happy bunny, itching to get going and suddenly enthused to tidy up and regain control of a garden which seems to have embraced its neglect far too quickly for my liking.

IMG_5750

I want to sort out the Big Border.  It has never been quite right since I created it and I have struggled to work out why it isn’t right and what I should do with it.  To give you some background the Big Border was created when I lifted the back lawn.  This was partly because a large shed/workshop was going in part of the garden and I needed to re-house the plants, partly because I think lawn is a waste of time in a small garden and partly because the garden slopes so much that cutting the lawn was hard work.  This latter reason also explains why I have struggled with how to plant the Big Border that was created.  As my fellow sloping gardeners will know, and there are a few of them out there in the blogasphere – check out Rusty Duck, a sloping garden can be a real challenge.  No only do you get weary lugging things up and down the garden but you realise that you see the plants differently to in a flat garden.  So if your garden slopes up from the house as mine does and you choose to plant tall plants, as I have a habit of doing, you find yourself looking at leggy stems.

IMG_5748

I am sure that there are clever garden designers out there who would dismiss my frustrations and in no time at all create something magical with tall plants.  However, I am a simple amateur gardener whose plant knowledge has been on a steep learning curve over the last 9 years and whilst I know far more about plants than I did when I planted the border initially some 4 years ago, I am still learning by trial and error – mainly error!  In addition my tastes have changed a lot in recent years.  This was brought home to me back in June on a garden visiting trip when I found my yearning for something more exciting than roses, alliums and geraniums – I wanted something with movement; something different; something with textures, foliage; something that wasn’t an English Country Garden.

IMG_5656

So when I was wandering round the garden last week, cuppa in hand, pondering the Big Border I started to ask myself what I wanted and I went back to beginnings with asking what plants do I like – ferns (no too sunny), bulbs (yes), actually tiny bulbs (more troublesome).  I knew I didn’t want a rock garden as I loath them, they are so depressing with all that grey stone but there was a germ of an idea here.  How to create a space for my little bulbs and alpines without creating a rockery and how to merge it into a bigger border.  I faffed around on the internet, messaged my virtual friend at the Scottish Rock Garden Society who shared some photographic ideas; I pondered and spent time standing and staring at the border.  Then the creative juices started to peculate and slowly the ideas started to drip through.

Firstly, the long thin border along the top of the wall (opposite side of the path) which houses my roses, which I adore, would be beefed up with the removal of the disappointing geraniums and the addition of perennial herbs such as sage and lavender giving all year round substance.  Then I would accept the fact that there was bright light to the Big Border now and the slope gave good drainage, but in warm dry weather, could cause the plants problems, and I would plant the space with plants that actually enjoy this environment – what a novel idea!

IMG_5738

For the astute of you who will have been looking at the photos on this post you will have twigged that they give a clue to the inspiration behind my idea – Beth Chatto’s gravel garden which I visited in June and was the highlight of the trip for me.  Now I know that I can’t replicate this as I have considerably more rain that Beth and my soil is clay based so more fertile but I want to use the approach she has taken and select plants that will enjoy the more exposed site and which are crucially not that tall.  The focus will be on foliage strong plants to give interest all year so I plan to use bergenias (I have many in the front garden that need a new home), grasses (I fancy another Stipa gigantea), things like agastache, agapanthus, lots of bulbs for throughout the year, agave, etc.

My disappointing border
My disappointing border

I am excited by the prospect and there is already a programme of clearing and relocation planned which will not only free up the space but will help with producing a screen along the exposed boundary line.  Of course being August and warm and dry I will have to wait until the weather cools but in the meantime I am thrilled that I am finally rediscovering the garden.

 

Notes from the Garden – 10th April

IMG_4547 2

I think we have had all four seasons this weekend with wind, rain and heavy sleet yesterday and frost overnight but today spring returned which meant I could get on with my planting plans.

IMG_4536

The focus today was the long border along the top of the wall.  I want it to have a sort of cottage garden feel and in recent years have added a number of roses, alliums and aquilegias.  Today, having weeded I added some Digitalis purpurea ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ and  Digitalis mertonensis both of which should add height to the border.  Also a topiary bay has been relocated to mid-way down the border as it has languished in a pot on the patio for so long that when I tried to move it this week I discovered it had rooted into the ground through the gaps in the paving slabs.  It took two of us to get the plant out of the pot and haul it up the garden but hopefully it will be a lot happier now in the border and the yellowing leaves will green up.  I plan to add some Echinacea seedlings in a few weeks time once they have had a chance to bulk up – they are just starting their third year so hopefully they will be ready to flower this year.

IMG_4533

Talking of seedlings and hoping they will flower I was completely thrilled to discover that all four of my Meconopsisbaileyi ‘Hensol Violet’ seedlings had reappeared.  Like the Echinacea they are in their third year so I am hoping they will flower as well which would be quite amazing.  They have had a good mulch of ericaceous compost to try to encourage them.  In fact there has been a lot of feeding going on with the roses and peonies having a good mulch of manure.

IMG_4384

My epic re-distribution of plants programme is well under way and nearly completed in the back garden – there is just a sad bamboo to extract which I suspect will be a real challenge.  Over Easter I started relocating the hellebores from near the bench to the far end of the Big Border.  Above is Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’ which I think works well with Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and the Amenthalea lessonia.  There is a pale yellow hellebore just past the bottom of the photograph and strangely they all seem to work well together.  I have added some corms of a short bronze leaved crocosmia for interest in late summer. To the right of the photo is a Cotinus ‘Grace’ and its purple leaves are key to the planting at this end of the border.  Although the leaves are not out yet I wanted to ensure that the colour theme was extended throughout the year.

IMG_4532

Its wonderful to see so many plants re-emerging after the winter and every time I walk around the garden there is a new delight, sometimes a small spring flower or a plant that I had taken a gamble with has returned. Who knows what delights will appear over the coming week.

 

From small things

IMG_4356 1

I have been on annual leave this week and as ever had plans to spend time sorting the garden out, as well as redecorating the living room – I am always over ambitious! Firstly, the weather at the start of the week was not very conducive to gardening being dreary and wet and various unexpected family commitments eat into more of my time. It was becoming increasingly frustrating.  Finally on Wednesday having painted the woodwork I found myself outside exploring the garden to see what had emerged over the previous few days.  I am particularly obsessed with my epimediums at the moment and which ones are flowering.  Most of them seemed to be sulking last year but this year, possibly due to the wet winter, they are virtually all (there are some 14 different varieties at the moment) full of flower buds.  Anyway, during one of these forays into the flower border I somehow stepped backwards, caught my heel on the nearby step and managed to fall right over and literally roll down the garden and into the border stamping off Primula denticulata flower stalks on my way.

It really knocked the stuffing out of me and I had to sit on the offending step for a while before I risked standing up; luckily I hadn’t done any real damage which was a relief.  However, despite not banging my head, the tumble left me completely befuddled and I just couldn’t work out what I had been planning to do in the garden and what I had planted to do where.  Quite unsettling.

IMG_4358 1

So I drifted into the front garden to cut back a few plants that I remembered had been offending me for some time from my bedroom window.  Looking around I noticed the trough under the front window and how dishevelled the succulents appeared.  Suddenly, this trough become the focus of all my efforts and I spent probably an hour slowly removing all the plants, cleaning them up and replanting.  I planted the trough with hardy sempervivums back in April 2014 – you can see a photo in this post.   Since then it has fared well surviving only with the occasional splash of water as I water the pots outside the front door. However, as is their wont the semps have multiplied and multiplied, worse than rabbits, and basically they had run out of space and were growing on top of each other.  So much so that many of them barely had any roots in the soil.

IMG_4353

Interestingly, the semps that I planted in the gravel around the base of the sink looked a lot healthier.  They haven’t multiplied quite so quickly, probably less favourable conditions, and were looking full and glossy.   Having emptied out the trough and removed all the dead foliage I replanted possibly more sparsely than last time and then I used some of the leftovers to continue the planting along the edge of the border the sink stands in.  It is located in one of those narrow borders that builders insist on putting in against the front of a house but which are full of rumble and hopeless for growing most things.   As the rumble makes it very free draining I have over the years added compost and planted it up with lavender and bearded irises all of which are doing well.  I think the semps along the front edge will provide an interesting contrast and hopefully help to cover the ground.

Having completed this task and being pleased with the result I found that my head had cleared and got a second wind and started to work through my original plans for the back garden.  Over the last few days I have made significant changes to the Big Border which I think will move the garden forward over the next year.  So “from small things …. big things one day come”.

IMG_4400

 

Notes from the Garden – 13th March 2016

IMG_4248 1

Finally a glorious spring weekend which has seen me bumbling around the garden just like the big lumbering bumble bees that have been visiting the hellebores and primulas.  My head has been spinning with ideas and plans over the last few weeks so it was a real relief to start putting some of them into action.  I have one of those long mental lists with one thing dependent on another and I am sure I will forget the sequence so I must write it all down when I write up my garden journal later.

IMG_4239

My first task was to round up the various coloured primulas from around the garden.  I love coloured primulas.  I know a lot of people can be quite snobby about them but I think they have a lovely old fashioned charm to them.  I had been using them along the paths but they were dotted around, one here and one there, and really made no impact whatsoever.  So I collected all the pink ones up and have planted them in the shade of an Abelia by some deep pink/mauve hellabores.  The hellebores leaves will eventually cover this area so will mask the primulas’ leaves when they are looking tatty during the summer.  I see this view from my living room window and I am amazed how much just planting a handful of same  primulas has lifted this area with the pink of the hellebores intensified.  I have done the same with the purples which are planted with the Crocus ‘Pickwick’ and the yellow/orange primulas which are under the Hammelias.

IMG_4245 1

Next on the list was the Big Border.  I have decided to move the asters and some of the grasses to the new borders in the front garden – yet to be dug.  I want to use this space for sweet peas and dahlias this year so I wanted to clear everything that needed moving so I could see the space left and to start thinking about the layout and how I can fit in the plants I want to include.  The asters have been divided and potted up and are now cluttering up the patio so hopefully they will start to irritate me which will push me onwards with the front garden.  The bright fresh green leaves you can see are Camassias which should look great in about a month.  I like the little Narciussus Tete a Tete as well and I think I will add to these for next year.  I am also thinking that I might risk tulips again and hope the badger doesn’t appear and dig them all up.  I would love to fill the gaps between the plants in this border with bright tulips in the Venetian colours I love at the moment.

IMG_4260

The other job crossed off the list was the replacement of the shambolic bamboo supports for the step over apples with a more organised pots and wire system.  I painted the posts the same colour as the highlight on the shed to give a more cohesive look and my eldest son wired them up.  It was amazing how much difference it has made, without the bamboo canes with the branches tied to them you can actually see the structure of the step-overs.  Whilst we haven’t had a lot of apples off the trees I am hugely proud of the apple step-overs as I know little about pruning fruit trees and started with 3 apple whips and some limited instructions from the nursery.

The sweet peas sown last week are starting to germinate in the garden and today I sowed a batch of Cerinthe retorta which I prefer to Cerinthe major. Cannas and Agapanthus are also showing signs of life in the greenhouse and the Dahlias have been potted up with hugh expectations.

Wherever my gardening mojo has been lurking for the last few years it seems it has decided to come home – thank  goodness.