The whole summer has flown

In March I said that I was going to make regular updates about anything new or interesting, and failed dismally. There was always pressure to be outside where I am confident and have an infinite amount to do, and the option of a struggle with my computer was endlessly put off……until now!

It has been an exciting summer; even in the dismal weather of August and September there have been lots of people, too often under umbrellas, but  apparently enjoying themselves.  And for me, having finished my folly building phase,  I am totally absorbed in the fascination of  plants and planting and all their options and combinations. So now with the garden closed but the plants still visible and in mind we are very busy with a large and long overdue sort out, splitting,  and, in many places, replanting.

There is lots that I could have written about in the summer but one thing which seems to be topical for many people is wild flowers. The meadow here runs beside the stream and is both moist and fertile and when I took it over it had rank tall grass with few wild flowers. With no access for machinery  the first years were given to annual mowing, hand raking and then, with no option, burning. Three years followed attempting to establish yellow rattle but it was a hard struggle with the rattle tending to  disappear unless more seed was used each year. Last year was the most successful when we had collected a lot of seed from kind friends and applied it after strimming down to bare earth in small patches covering about 20% of the whole 1.5 acre area.

Scraped area on left
Typical scraped area close-up

But I felt that I don’t have the time for this slow progress, and scraping off the topsoil appealed. In early 2015 I scraped  about 10cm off across a small area (about 50 m2) but stopped after being disconcerted that there was no apparent difference down through fine uniform loam. However, after seeding both the scraped and an unscraped area the resulting growth was remarkably different. That led to scraping in November 2015 about 30 % of the whole meadow in the area where grass had been most vigorous, followed by spring sowing with an appropriate grass and wild flower mix. The result was grass of much reduced vigour in 2016. In August we added yellow rattle in the strimmed areas throughout  the meadow with the result shown in the above 2017 pictures. It does now seem that by adding additional seed varieties we have a good chance of the area developing very well.

It’s looking good

The mild spring has brought the garden forward further than I ever remember it.

By the end of the first week of April the magnolias were looking splendid, the weeping willows were a lovely golden green and fat stalks of gunnera were three feet tall. But can this largesse survive without a frost until the safety of summer?

Problem with fritillaries

On my mind is a bed where fritillaries have self seeded prolifically, but so have the celandines.

I used to admire their sparkling yellow but now hate the thuggish clumps and can no longer cope with the impossibility of weeding one from the other when they each have the identical season and bulb depth. 

Anyway fritillaries only look good when flowering randomly from grass. So a job for the next few weeks is to dig up the whole lot, separate out the fritillaries and replant them in the wild flower meadow. The damp shady dug area can cope with a May replant.

It’s now the 30th April and the answer to the question about the frost is: ‘so far, almost’. We had three nervous nights when we had many plants covered with fleece, ending on the 28th when it dipped just 0.4 deg below. Most were saved by the fleece but the few which were not covered, mainly rodgersias, were sadly blackened.  But they will come back.


Late March

Fritillaria Meleagris

Just a few days now until the spring opening (1st April) and we are all very busy getting ready.

View taken from Cuckoo Clock

Massed daffodils have been looking good for a while, but the last few days of sunshine have kicked in that miraculous spring explosion of green shoots and early flowers – fritillaries, primula denticulata, and marsh marigolds all looking great – and the weeping willows hazed with wonderful  light yellowy green. It’s all very exciting!

Fritillaria Meleagris
Skunk Cabbage
Curl Brook

Welcome to Spring

William in the snowdrops

William in the snowdropsIt’s a day of rather cautious sunshine, a good one to welcome the early spring and to celebrate the first words of my new mini-blog on a new website. The site has been made by James Weymouth to update the one he made for me ten years ago. I hope you will enjoy them all – the spring, the site and the blog.

When writing the blog I promise I will stick firmly to the old idiom of a picture being worth a thousand words.

So that is enough already and we will take a short walk (6th March) to see what is popping up in the garden. Sadly the snowdrops are looking tired by all the wind, except for a few guarded by William, so you will just have to imagine about a million of them all looking vibrant.

More early March pictures: