The weather has been quite variable since my last report - but very little rain, which means that the ground is now getting very hard. It also means that I am having to water the plants that are still waiting to go in. There was a short downpour last night but it is hardly noticeable now as the wind has dried it the ground out again already.
I have had a few sessions out there and achieved some of the tasks I had set myself.
I destoned some more of the seed beds, and have sown cornflowers, godetias and the remaining nigella. I am not sure how the previous seeds will do as Jen and Poncho ran down the bank to say hello to Ann, and have disturbed the end three seed beds :(
I spent a couple of days working on the new bed along the trellis. It has been weeded and dug over again to remove a lot more of the stones. The sacks of muck/soil improver that I dug in in the mud late last autumn have been working miracles - the sticky clay of last year is now a lot better.
The three peonies that I had planted up there are looking quite healthy although it will be another year or two before they reach flowering size I guess. The clematises also appear to have survived as has the jasmine. The solanum does not appear to have been as lucky, but Anne has promised to dig me up some sort of poppy-like plant that will grow to five or six feet tall that will replace it.
I have planted a lot of the perennials from J Parker and from Jean. I was tempted to cram them together as it still looks quite bare, but in the end was more restrained.
The other major task was the pruning-cum-hatchet-job on the buddleia in the long bank. Jean had looked it up in one of her books on pruning, and basically I could hack it to my heart's content. It is now only half the plant it was. Colin may be a lot more impressed with end result now...
I also had another go at the honeysuckle in the high bank as it had grown back down to the ground, hiding my three garden 'gargoyles' peering out from under it.
Another day was spent weeding the top of the long bank, getting it ready for the saxifrage display that is just starting but will look stunning in the next week or two.
I still haven't got up the high bank with the soil from Anne - I would rather wait until we have had some rain to soften the ground a little. However, the longer I leave it the more difficult it will be to get up there. My routes are now disappearing as everything is growing so vigorously.
The alpine strawberries are starting to flower. I have them growing up the bank at the end of the new bed, along the drive edge of the long bank, all along the front of the high bank, up the side of the honeysuckle and some have made it right up to the top.
The gooseberry bushes are looking very lush, and it looks as if I am going to have a good crop this year if the birds don't get them first.
The red and black currants also appear to be doing reasonably well - it would be hard to beat last year's abundance.
The late-flowering narcissi that I planted in the grass are now flowering. One clump is doing much better than the other.
I planted one group of rockery tulips (tulipa batanii) last year that are now looking very pretty...
I have discovered that I have a lot more bluebells than I realised in the high bank - I couldn't see them last year because of all the weeds!
The camassias in LB2 are starting to flower, a couple of weeks earlier than expected - the catalogue said late May. I planted five altogether, two at the top and three at the bottom, and all but one of them have thrown up two flower spikes.
The viburnums are now at their peak - there are five at intervals along the long bank.
The clematis montana is now covered in flowers. Everyone keeps saying that I need to cut it right back, but that is easier said than done. I haven't yet determined where it is actually actually growing from...
I bought two ajugas, this dark leaved one and a variegated pink leaved one, as ground cover in the rockery. They are both flowering at the moment. I prefer the darker blue flowers of this one.
I have two main varieties of aquilegias in the long bank, this dark blue one and 'Nora Barlow', which tends to flower slightly later. I also bought a magenta coloured semi aquilegia last year which has come back through, along with the 'Black Barlow' that are coming on a treat in my mini greenhouse.
The centaurea in the high bank are doing well. I was worried that I had trampled them to death last year when I did the first major surgery on the honeysuckle, but if anything they have spread.
I had been quite worried that the epimedium (youngiaum roseum) I bought from Edrom nursery last spring had not survived the winter - it is so dainty and delicate looking. I noticed a few buds of growth poking through the soil a few weeks ago, and now it is flowering...
The spring gentians I bought from Pearsons last year have been flowering for a little while now - I just love the beautiful blue colour. I will have to make sure that the aubretias do not swamp this one...
This geranium (macrorrhizum 'Ingwersen's Variety' ???) has just started to flower at the top of LB3. The leaves of this one have an unpleasant smell, as does the other similar one in the high bank (macrorrhizum ???). At first I thought a cat had been using the area as a toilet...
The osteospermum grow in my garden as perennials. I have two large clumps. This patch at the top of LB2 that must be nearly a couple of square metres in size now. Last year I had quite a lot of die-back, the leaves having turned very dark green/black, and I was not quite sure what to do with it. I cut it right back to the new growth I could see coming through. This year the winter was so mild that I have not needed to do anything with it.
The other patch is in the bottom right corner of the high bank. It had a little die-back in the middle of it, which I cut out. I had planned to plant an agapanthus to grow through it, but found the first shoots of this Solomon Seal already coming through.
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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