Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Unfinished Garden – Lush

30 April

Oh dear, so many reasons for not getting into the garden in the last week: technological, ecclesiastical, vehicular, meteorological, familial. But all of them just excuses really.

Anyway, there has been a day’s rain at last, and so the ground was soft enough to go out and pull up some weeds this afternoon. And I attempted to trim the small Pittisporum into a rounder shape.

Last weekend we went to a local garden centre, where I was disappointed not to find the plants I was looking for (a Kolkwitzia, and some Valerian), and a bit bewildered by what there was on offer.  It’s all so geared up to encourage the impulse buy. In the end I came away with some jolly yellow osteospermum …

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…. and a bag of red begonia tubers at half price, which I really should have planted by now.

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There are some radish thinings to nibble and all around a growing lushness as the perenniels forge ahead into the new season – tomorrow is May Day!

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The Unfinished Garden – The ties that bind

24 April

Tying-in is not something I have been very assiduous with to date. But now I have discovered that it is a pleasant way to spend half an hour at the end of a long day on the PC, so I shall try harder in future. Especially as for once I have completed so many of the early-season jobs, so I don’t need to feel guilty or overwhelmed by everything that hasn’t been done.

It doesn’t require any major changes of outfit and can be accompanied by some gentle pruning of the Euonymous Silver Queen etc., the box balls even, to keep them neat and tidy.  A good way to keep an eye on things too, such as the black spot already beginning to show up on one of the roses.

Everything is still very dry but I hope the weekend will bring some rain – the first drop since the beginning of April.

The Unfinished Garden – Pyracanthus and Viburnum

22 April

I thought we would finish off tidying/reducing the Pyracanthus and also cut back the neighbouring Viburnum Lauristinus; and that it wouldn’t take long. Well, several hours later we finally had everything lopped, sawn, trimmed, shredded and disposed of and it was a jolly long day.

In my enthusiasm to get on with the job I forgot to take the ‘before’ pictures. So you’ll have to take my word for it that the Pyracanthus reached up to the roof, and the Viburnum hedge was about two feet taller and six inches wider.  It will be much easier for me to reverse out of the garage now. Along the side of the hedge I’ve cut back to bare wood, but I’m confident it will thicken up and regrow.

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And some of those tulips are oh so fancy.

The Unfinished Garden – Pyracanth-ageddon

21 April

Another beautiful day, although the air is still cold and you notice it if you’re out of the sun.

Before lunch I dug out some of the couch grass from the bed outside the kitchen door. Always quite a satisfying job if you loosen the roots with a fork and pull gently to try not to leave too many broken roots behind. Even half-an-inch of the gleaming white root is enough to start it up again.

Later on we got serious with the Pyracanthus which grows at the side of the house. It had got completely out of hand and stretched its fearsome thorny branches right up to roof level. Mr B manfully wielded the extending loppers and I wrestled the long prunings through the shredder. Allowing for a short break for a cup of tea, within a couple of hours we had reduced it by half.

Though it certainly didn’t go without a fight, and I have the battle scars to prove it.

The Unfinished Garden – a warm welcome back

20 April

Now I feel a bit like Rip van Winkle as I finally had the energy and time to venture into the garden. The weekend was overtaken by two big church meetings which I had unexpectedly to prepare for and chair. But today dawned sunny again and I was at last in the frame of mind and body to get back outside. It seems I missed the moment when spring began and suddenly everything’s in full flow.

I clipped the spent flowers from the heathers and did some hand weeding to get my eye in, as it were and see what was going on at soil level. One thing going on was dusty soil, already, as there’s been no rain for nearly three weeks and not much before then. I’ve watered the Hemerocalis I split and replanted, and the new Lamiums and Erythronium, whose yellow flowers I’ve already dead-headed so that it doesn’t waste any energy making seed.

One excitement was the reappearance of the Acanthus, which was so very much not there that I supposed I might have dug it up while weeding over-enthusiastically. But no, here it comes …

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Up above, the Pyrus Salicifolia has covered itself in glory – wonderful against the clarity of a chilly blue sky.


The tulips are having their big moment, in fact I’m glad it’s cooled down a little. They looked rather bewildered by the higher temperatures last week.


The climbing rose I cut back so drastically seems to have forgiven me and is starting again.

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And still there are a few primroses, lighting up a shady corner. Those in the sun have decided enough’s enough.

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And little violets everywhere.

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The Unfinished Garden – On the Sidelines

16 April

Well this is frustrating. It’s National Gardening Week, and the weather round here has turned thoroughly warm and sunny. And I am stuck indoors feeling well below par with a horrible cold-type virus which is doing the rounds. Also lots of church work to do, getting ready for meetings at the weekend, and my colleagues are equally incapacitated for various reasons.

All in all not a great week so far. And meanwhile I can see outside that the tulips are in bloom, as are the wild violets that have put themselves all over the place, and the perennials are bursting through ready for another year’s performance.

Wait for me! I’ll get out there as soon as I can.

The Unfinished Garden – Chop, chop

12 April

Not so much time available today, but I couldn’t help but go out for a short while to see what was new.

I remember the late Bill Deedes saying his golden rule was always to have a pair of secateurs in his pocket whenever he ventured round the garden, and I agree. It’s annoying to encounter something that needs a quick trim and not have the tool to hand. Mind you I have now remembered that I never did go back and attend to the aberrant green shoots in the Spirea.

Anyway today I was fully equipped to cut back some of the old Ponticum rhododendrons which block the path that lies towards the back of the garden. Beyond this it really is ‘where the wild things are’ in a forest of rhodies. For the time being I’m happy to leave it that way – but I could create a whole new area back there if I had but world enough and time.

The mint is back! And the rosemary is coming into flower.

The evening’s entertainment is watching the final round of the Masters golf from Augusta, luxuriating in the vibrant green grass and, this year, the peak of the azalea season.

The Unfinished Garden – Divide and rule

11 April

I’m increasingly partial to Euphorbias, and they seem to come in many forms. Just now a couple of them are looking good near the new Erythronium.


Today I decided to do real ‘grown up’ gardening and divide some Hermerocalis which have been in situ for years. I read up on the timing and method before starting – I hope this still counts as Spring. I managed to dig up one of the clumps:

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… and then tried the thing with two forks back to back to lever it into two. It was a lot harder to do than it looks on the TV, and it felt rather mean to the poor plant – more of a massacre than an elegant division. But I battled on, and having read that they like full sun, arranged the resulting sections in the border behind the garage and watered them thoroughly.

Five plants which would have been £8 or so each, for free, from one which I owned already.

The Spirea Japonica is coming along nicely – though I need to prune out those green shoots.

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Later on I planted some more Calendula seeds (Orange Princess Black) with the help of our five-year old granddaughter.

The Unfinished Garden – Harbingers

8 April

Well it’s not actually summer of course, but the season is definitely on the turn. For example the first outdoor activity of today was to change my winter tyres for the shiny summer alloys and that can only be a harbinger of warm times ahead.

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Then he who mows mowed, and later on the warmer longer afternoon enticed me out again. I moved some hardy geraniums that had got themselves on the wrong side of the new brick edging of the gravel area and thus liable to be regularly mowed.

You will be much happier here than in the lawn

You will be much happier here than in the lawn

And then I continued to tackle what lies beneath the Pyrus Salicifolia, including a couple of mini-brambles and more of those Carex grasses I’m happy to live without.

All this is not very visible to the casual eye, being along a path hidden behind a narrow curved bed, but I quite like tidying up the unseen places. And it does prevent such areas becoming nurseries for weeds and other unwanted specimens. I once heard a custodian of a public garden say that you only need to weed the front 18 inches of a bed for it to appear marvelously well cared for.  Well that may be true, but even at the time I thought that’s just storing up trouble for later on.

And on a more positive front – there’s blossom on the flowering cherry.

The Unfinished Garden – Archaeology and the Edge of Reason

6 April – Easter Monday

At last! A genuinely warm day so that I even went out without a coat or fleece. Actual blue sky and sunshine.

I was dismayed to find however that ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’ has been nibbled by something. I scattered a few ‘green’ slug pellets around, but I think the perpetrator must either have slithered up the supporting cane, or be a very long-necked slug or snail. So perhaps some sort of barrier on the cane? Vaseline? Maybe. So far it’s only one stem.

More weeding in the border under the Pyrus Salicifolia (Weeping Pear). But the soil was still very sticky so after a while I changed tack to revealing the stepping stones at the edge of the lawn. I felt a bit like an archaeologist scraping away at the moss, grass and soil until a nice square slab was unearthed.

Shadows - the sun is shining!

Shadows – the sun is shining!

Thus inspired I carried on to sharpen up the edges of the lawn, a well-known trick for making the whole garden look properly tended.

And look – the Erythronium has come into flower …