The weather at the moment is a bit like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons all at once! A couple of days ago it was so warm and sunny we sat outside in short sleeves and enjoyed a chilled glass of wine. Since then it’s been very windy and very cold, though we’ve missed the sprinkling of snow many areas have had. Despite the fluctuating extremes of temperature it’s actually pretty dry, our clay soil is already starting to crack…but heavy rain is forecast for the end of the week! The poor plants don’t know whether to stick their heads up or not…
I’m enjoying my magnolia stellata while I can, it’s blossoms are beautiful, so light and delicate. I planted this one about twenty years ago and it’s one of my favourite shrubs. During the summer it’s pretty boring, but the buds and then the early blossom make up for it. Unfortunately they do tend to brown with cold wind, it’s still looking gorgeous at the moment so fingers crossed it may have escaped the worst of the weather.
I worked my way along this raised bed last week, pruning and weeding as I went. By mid summer the wall is hidden by foliage and it becomes quite difficult to step round, especially when you have no balance like me, so this early weeding is quite important, I get as much out as I can, mainly bittercress, grasses, wild geums and self seeded alcemilla mollis at the moment.
The rose bed above the stone wall was the next to be tackled, these roses are all about fifteen years old, I’ve tried this year to cut one old branch right back on each bush to encourage new shoots from the bottom. This bed has couch grass, bind weed and buttercups! I’ve pruned back the spirea and the wiegela which both flower later in the year and the pheasantberry has had a hard cutback as it’s getting to be a bit of a thug. The bush just coming into leaf on the left is a daphne which flowers in late spring, so I’ll cut back after then. The daffies are still looking cheerful.
The next border to be tackled hopefully this week is by the big fence,you can see all the little weeds popping up! The pieris is in flower at the moment, that’s the one with the creamy white flowers on. The perennials are all starting to appear so at least I know where they are, there’s geraniums, astrantia, daylillies and a peony.
As well as weeds I also get quite a few self sown plants which I encourage, such as aquilegia or astrantia. I noticed the other morning down by the conservatory there’s a very pretty clump of violets. They’re tiny but so pretty…
I mentioned last week that my OH had taken ownership of the front garden and the side of the drive. Well he’s quite enthused and protective about his garden! You may remember the side of the drive before was a tangle of shrubs, all getting a bit overgrown. When nextdoor decided to replace the fence we decided to clear our side at the same time. We got someone in to clear it and I eagerly ordered some roses from David Austin to make a long rose border. They arrived in November as they were bare-rooted, but at that point we were still waiting for the drive to be widened…and then I had my operation…to save all my roses I ‘heeled’ them in in the front garden, I basically just planted the whole bundle together, this saves them from being damaged by frost….
…and there they sat as we then waited for a hand rail to be erected! Finally my OH could dig the area over, add two tons of top soil and compost and then plant all twenty roses! He then found to his disgust that he had created the perfect toilet facilities for the local feline population! Out comes the phone and google! Lavender and garlic he decided was the answer! I managed to buy about ten lavender plants on the market the next day and he chopped up an old garlic bulb…well it’s worked! No evidence of cats since!!
I’m looking forward to seeing how the rose border looks, I’ve chosen deep red at the bottom of the drive, gradually lightening through the pinks to creamy white at the top. I hope it works!
I do like this time of year, the trees are just starting to green up, it’s a wonderful vibrant green in spring, everything is starting to sprout and grow. It’s a positive time of year.