A week last Friday I was browsing a plant catalogue from J.Parker when I noticed they had a website. I logged in and began browsing in earnest - before I knew it I had started adding stuff to my basket. They hook you with some excellent offers - 12 mixed hyacinths for £1.95, 5 Starfighter lilies for £1.75, 25 Allium Purple Sensation for £2.45. In they went. I had clocked up the first free gift of 6 Campanula Glomerata Superba the moment the first plant hit the basket. Next target - spend £40.00 and get 30 free Apricot Beauty tulips - well, that shouldn't be too much of a challenge. In went the blue Himalayan poppies - should love it in the left hand side of the high bank. Next came the pack of 6 Japanese anemones - I had already planted some of these last year (a gift from Janet), but only 2 had survived from the weed attack. Tricyrtis Hirta - now they look interesting, lily-like flowers, white covered with red splotches, and they like shade - will be great at the top of the high bank. Ooh - a collection of double paeonies - buy 4 and get 2 free. I'm sure I'll find somewhere for them. A pack of 6 mixed Tradescantia - they like wet or dry soil, sun or part shade so will be ideal for my garden. Lastly a pack of 5 Erythronium Dens Canis - Dog's Tooth violets - for under the buddleia in the long bank. Proceed to checkout. Total £58.75, savings £39.50.
Now all I have to do is get the garden ready for them.
I still had the 2 packs of bulbs and pots from Aldi to sort out. There was no way I was going to cram 50 bulbs into those small pots, but they would be fine for the hyacinths. I set about clearing out the weeds from the 3 tubs along the edge of the lawn - I thought I may be able to put some bulbs in them but found they were already pretty well bulbed up. I topped up the compost level, re-located a mint plant to a separate pot and planted the crocuses from the packs around it. I replaced the mint with a small pot of chives I had brought up from Sandhurst.
As a separate project I had also bought 2 packs each containing 3 climbers from Aldi several weeks ago - an absolute bargain at £3.99 per pack. I had 4 clematis, a solanum and a jasmine still waiting to find a home. I had plans to plant them along the other side of the drive to the long bank rockery. There is trellis up already, with the garden sheds on the other side. I managed to clear enough to plant 3 of the clematis last Wednesday before darkness and rain forced me to stop.
The next job was to clear the small area along the side of the rose-bed area. There are a few plants self-seeded into this narrow patch, but mainly the lawn, clover, docks and thistles seem to want to claim it as their own. I planted the sparaxia, puschkinia and allium moly from the bulb packs in here. I still need to weed the rose-bed itself...
Moving on to clearing the debris from under the buddleia. The alchemillas (Lady's mantle) had taken over under here. I remember when I first arrived up here being very pleased on finding these in the garden. A short walk over the road and down to the river soon showed me that they were growing everywhere here, as are geraniums which I love. Now, why couldn't they have invaded. I also started clearing out some of my annuals from the small beds I had made along the bottom of the bank.
Yesterday I was back to the high bank. There was a very weak small potentilla in there which was doing nothing - that needed to be pulled out. Also a few branches on a shrub (no idea what it is) slightly higher up that were growing outwards instead of upwards that were ready for the chop. This would clear quite a large area ready for planting. Those jobs done and back up with a rubbish sack to remove the debris (mainly moss and twigs) and a fork to dig it over. It was nowhere near as muddy as I had expected, and surprisingly not as stony as other areas. I found more autumn crocuses and snowdrops up there as I dug it over, and these were relocated to under the shrubs. I planted my last clematis just below the shrub - hopefully it will grow up into it. Feeling pleased with how well this went I carried on around the front of the pampas grass. Then I got over-ambitious. The high bank continues around to the side of the house - there is actually a small alley between the house and the bank that houses the dustbins from before the council switched to wheelie bins. I had never made it round that far in all the time we have been here - finding a route had not been possible before, but now that I had cleared the pampas grass and brambles I could see a way up. Off I set with my loppers, gloves and fork. Firstly to chop the dead and annoying branches off of yet another buddleia. Now I could make it to the bottom of the conifers. Next chop off some of the lower branches of those so that I can work my way past them to get to the side. I was greeted by another giant hogweed, but on its last legs for this year. I could get past that okay - to get to another forest of nettles... and another of brambles... I pulled out as many of the nettles as I could, throwing them down into the alley. I hadn't the heart or the time to start on the brambles. That job can wait until everything else has been done.
On bagging up the rubbish I rediscovered my wicker pig hiding in the alley. He is looking a little worse for wear (needs some new wicker I think), but I decided to give him his freedom. He was locked up before because he kept blowing away, but I had found some ground pegs, so hopefully he is now going to behave.
Today I moved back to the rockery end of the long bank. There were loads of linaria purpurea (I think) all over it. These could go. They will seed back in unless I clear the whole bank, but that will be fine once what I want growing there is established. I hadn't realised quite how many of them there were - I filled a sack and a half. The last job of the day was to dig out the old lupin - this also had self-seeded, and I had already transplanted the seedlings at intervals along the top edge of the bank.
Having looked at the 5-day weather forecast I will probably get a day off tomorrow - strong wind, but nowhere near as bad as the earlier predicted 40 m.p.h. It does seem to improve as the week goes on, but the temperature is now dropping. I just hope my plants arrive in the next few days...
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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