Today’s excitement was the arrival of the compost!
But I shall carry on pulling ivy out of the triangle bed – there’s at least one more day’s work there, then I can spread the mulch around and all will be lovely.
And then there are the snowdrops:
The real gardeners finished their work today, and very smart it looks too:
Thank you to Carsten Wagner and Paul from Garden and Landscaping Services for a job done well and quickly. I can’t wait now for some warmer weather during which I can sit there and admire everyone’s efforts.
Meanwhile, round at the front I moved on from the circular bed to the triangular one.
Though you can hardly see the shape as the moss and ivy are stealthily taking over. The ivy weaves itself around everything else so it’s real hands and knees work. My overall approach is to do a couple of square metres properly rather than a whole bed inadequately. ‘That will do’ is a bete noire mental phrase of mine which I am trying hard to counteract in this Lenten task.
Exciting things afoot today, because there are real gardeners on hand. My daughter has suggested that this is cheating, but actually it’s a coincidence that they are here in Lent and they are doing a couple of landscaping tasks which are completely beyond my capabilities.
And besides I still went out to tackle another job in the front garden, the infamous circular bed under a huge Scots Pine tree – baked dry in the summer and pretty much overrun with St John’s Wort, although a few more interesting things are trying to hold their own. Amongst which are Hellebores and I am especially fond of them because they seed themselves, indicating that they actually like being here.
Self seeded Hellebore
Meanwhile at the back of the house the decking installed in 1996 which is now beginning to disintegrate is being replaced by smart brickwork.
Old decking replaced by …
… new bricks
And an over grown gravel garden is being given a major overhaul and a nice new edge.
Sunday 1 Mar
More seasonal tidying of a different bed today – nothing very dramatic, but I know it’s done. Just clearing up the dead perennial leaves from last year and digging out the worst of the weeds. This is another awkward spot, clay but also dry shade, yet more over hanging ivy and also a lively eucalyptus just over the fence next door.
Really I’m waiting for the compost man’s delivery in the next couple of days, but it’s good to know that some of the beds are ready. Once I have spread the mulch around, the borders will look neater and the plants can grow away nicely.
Meanwhile there are some jolly primroses blooming away in another corner – they have recovered well from a difficult beginning having been purchased on a whim from a DIY store and then been left for weeks in their polystyrene box before I got round to planting them up #NoLentDisciplineThen.
Some rather unfocused pottering today, but I tidied up the pittisporum which when I got indoors yesterday I realised was rather lopsided after my exertions. Then I pruned a few more hydrangeas which are around the place – you have to catch the right moment, after the hard frosts which the old flower heads help to protect against, but before this year’s shoots begin seriously to grow.
It does feel like everything is under starters orders for the 2015 season.
It’s been rather a dank and grey day, so the most cheerful thing was to move a self-sown pretty heather into a pot and out of harm’s way – there are upheavals to come in the week ahead ….
Today’s been crisp and sunny, and I’ve had the satisfaction of moving on to something new, and seeing a job through from start to finish.
It doesn’t show up so well in the photos, but it looks much better if it’s below the level of the pergola. Hard work to get at the branches in the middle though because they are above head height and it took some determination to keep at it and not send for reinforcements. But in the end I got there. And then I was rewarded by being able to get out the shredder – my favourite garden tool.
The mass of prunings reduced to half a bag of shreddings which I could dispose of at the back of the rhododendrons ‘where the wild things are’. A good job done.
A backed-up log jam of emails today, and a wet morning, so the garden had to wait until the afternoon. At least the days are getting longer.
Rather than move on to a new area, I decided to have a go at tidying up and tying in the Jasmine nudiflorum.
It was rather a tangled mess and I found it hard to relate to the neat diagram in my pruning and training guide. It’s probably one of those I-wouldn’t-start-from-here situations, but I did the best I could for a while and then concluded I was doing more harm than good walking on the soil in the wet conditions.
One curiosity is the way that a branch touching the soil will put down roots very rapidly – it’s intriguing that there’s a reaction that makes the stem grow roots and not leaves. Intriguing, but also a bit exasperating when the result is mini Jasmines all over the place which are surplus to requirements.
I think I’ll call that bed done, for now.
Not much time today, but I spent it down at soil level, tidying the bed, sweeping away the dead leaves and pulling up a few weeds. I do like the smell of the earth.
Meanwhile he who doesn’t mind getting up a ladder ascended to trim back the top of the ivy and pull it away from the garage soffits. Then finally I pruned the hydrangea which has been waiting there stoically to receive some attention.
‘Cut back last year’s flowering stems to a pair of fat buds’ says the book. So I did.
And in other news – the crocuses have started to appear outside the back door. Laus Deo.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.
And so to the climbing rose:
Such a great Lenten metaphor for the need to clear out the unnecessary and unproductive elements of one’s life, and I was struck by the way the ‘busy-ness’ of the frothy ivy was hiding some very dead wood. It’s not easy to do, of course, because from a distance the rose can look like it’s flourishing and it feels counter-intuitive to cut off green growth just coming back to life. Also the prunings tend to fight back, the thorns catching in your clothes.
In the end I took it right back to a couple of strong stems, aiming to encourage dormant buds which looked like they would head in the right direction.
I will nourish it of course, with some rose food and a good mulch, and then train the shoots horizontally to stimulate growth and flowers – whether we are rewarded with this within one season remains to be seen!
Sunday 22 Feb
It’s the first Sunday in Lent and I have two church services to go to and so less time for the garden project. But while I was at this morning’s Holy Communion a Lenten elf took it upon himself to deal with the ivy mound! How kind he is.
Just the five bags to take to the tip now.
By the time I was able to get down to it in the afternoon, the rain and wind had arrived which made it feel more demanding to get on with the job, but I layered up and of course the weather’s never as bad once you’re out there.
I dived into the ivy from the other end and cutting away that which was growing out from the wall, revealed: another ex-nest (sorry birds!), more trellis and the fearsome prickly tangle that is an old climbing rose.
I don’t know the name of it as it was planted by our predecessor here, but it’s a good mid-pink, vigorous but not unreasonable. This rose and I have some history because its hefty thorns make it very hard to train – you can’t wear gloves to tie it in and most of our encounters have been at best a score draw.
At least now I can see what I need to do, and where it needs to be put. A bit late for it, no doubt, but I think I shall cut it right back and then be conscientious in training the new growth.
I enjoyed the service this morning. The vicar spoke to us about committing ourselves to the desert in terms of stripping away those things which we think we can’t manage without (how about a day without the mobile phone?), and creating some space to allow ourselves to acknowledge some of those real truths about us that we’d rather keep hidden, or be too busy to stop and think about. But to do all this in the context of God’s words to Jesus at his baptism: ‘You are my dear, dear child with whom I am delighted’.
Some good thoughts to take forward into this week’s tasks.