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I started off the day having a bonfire, we needed to burn many cardboard boxes which had been stored in our barn for rather a long time and mice had had a happy time nesting in them.
The weather was glorious for the time of year so much so that I had to keep stopping and saying ‘what a lovely day’ to my other half or the cat or just the empty garden. (Mad woman muttering to herself again.) It was the most perfect day to be in the garden and it wasn’t too long before I found a smallish patch which needed overhauling. There were some Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ which had some Polemonium ‘Hannah Bilcliffe’ in front and a few clumps of Erigeron ‘Quakeress’ nearby. The grass had become a bit straggly with violas and other plants creeping inside the clumps so I removed two of them. The I dug out the daisy because I have too much of it and anyway its not very special. Next I dug up two of the larger clumps of polemonium and split them up to make several new plants. I dug the area over and incorporated some compost. Then had to replant the Jacob’s ladder and also added a few hostas ( I’m not sure which variety, it came from my parents garden). It looks more cohesive and will hopefully look splendid next year. The miscanthus didn’t get thrown away…….today I divided the clumps and potted them up ready for sale next year. A satisfying and productive day.
I may not have written for a couple of weeks but during that time have managed to get quite a lot of planting and transplanting done. The ground is getting stickier though so I may not be able to do much more unless it stays reasonably dry. The trouble is that I’ve done a bit here and a bit there but at least I’m getting some gaps filled. I’ve moved several libertia which had self-seeded into the wrong place so they got lifted and moved back a bit with some primroses now planted in front of them. Another plant which does well is sisyrichium striatum (I’m always amazed that it doesn’t rot away) and since they seed around with gay abandon there are plenty to spare so some were moved to fill in another gap. We have a dwarf alchemilla which is well-behaved compared to its grown-up relative and is very welcome wherever it chooses to be. But there were just a few too many as isolated plants so I dug them up and grouped them together.
I’ve planted cistus, peonies, hellebores, and hostas in the space I made after pulling out vast quantities of verbena. Also a few penstemmons have gone into one of the borders, I just hope they get through the winter and can give a good show next year.
I took some rose cuttings before we removed the fading climbing roses on the trellis house. The root systems were practically non-existant, probably due to being water-logged most of last year. There aren’t any climbers I can think of which would like sitting in permanently soggy soil so we will make raised border to lift the new plants (not decided which to have yet) out of the sog.
It was almost windless for couple of hours this morning so I took the opportunity to do some spraying. This involved walking round parts of the site that I don’t often see and as I was looking at the ground to see the weeds I couldn’t help but notice the amount of rabbit droppings here, there and everywhere. Its true that I’ve seen more plants which have been nibbled and diggings happening randomly so I knew there are more of these pests at the nursery. Luckily, our man with the gun called in today. He hasn’t been for ages due to ill health but is going to start coming again and hopefully he will get some of them. I frequently see them in different parts of the garden and nursery so there must be quite a lot now. George the cat might appears to be useless although he did catch a mouse last night which he was very pleased about, but I doubt he’s getting any of the rabbits.
It has been lovely to have two rain-free days and to have some sun for a change. We had our first frost last night which is very late in the year. Fortunately I’ve put most of the vulnerable plants in the tunnel so there shouldn’t be too much damage and this frost was only -1 degree c. At last I have found some new boots for work which are lovely and warm so hopefully there won’t be any chilblains this winter!
Last week the forecasters went overboard telling us all to ‘prepare’ for damaging gale-force winds. I know some people in the south and south-east had a bad time during Sunday night, trees fell down, tiles came off roves and one nursery suffered devastating destruction of their fruit trees. But here in the Midlands it really wasn’t too bad.
Last night was a different story though. When I went to bed the wind was scarily strong and caused me to sleep sporadically with thoughts of ripped polytunnels and damaged plants. (One year we lost 3 covers due to very strong winds.) there have been countless times when I have worried about the outcome unnecessarily and, fortunately, this was another false alarm. But during the day the wind was still too fierce to want to work out in the garden so I fiddled about and achieved very little. How annoying. And how often do I wish I had a job which wasn’t weather dependant?
Yesterday I had a successful bonfire even though the heap of hedge trimmings and garden waste was rather wet. In order to keep it going I pruned a couple of plants. The first to get the saw treatment was Salix purpurea ‘Nancy Sanders’ Its a lovely bushy small tree with reddish stems, narrow leaves and small catkins in the spring. The trouble is that it doesn’t have a single trunk and some of the lower branches needed to come off to prevent it from growing into nearby plants. I love pruning, I cut a piece out, stand back, take a look and decide which is the next bit to remove. It looked so much better when I’d done it.
Then on to the tamarix which has been annoying me for some time. Like the willow, it branches all along the main stem. It grows very fast and gets too close to the Lonicera fragrantissima and variegated holly on either side of it. I own up to planting the three shrubs too close to each other. So I pruned a bit and then a bit more and stood back and pruned yet more. I still don’t like the shape but I guess it looks better. And I had more fuel for the fire. Just as well I did it then because it has rained again overnight.
At last I planted the garlic yesterday. The soil in the veg bed was beautifully workable, I was able to lightly fork over the ground before planting the cloves. Compared to last year it was such a different story. Then, I planted the garlic in sticky wet sodden clods of clay and suspected that they would all rot but actually I had a good crop. How long the garlic will stay planted is another matter because there is more evidence of rabbits everywhere and the cat also uses the bare soil so I shall have to keep watch and put up some netting if necessary.
So, I was right to do as much in the garden as I could while there was a window of opportunity. It didn’t last long. One minute it was too dry to do any planting and now its too wet, or at least its raining too much to comfortably work outside.
While the weather was just perfect I managed to get a lot done. One border which had become predominantly Verbena bonariensis has been transformed. I’ve increased the number of Erigeron ‘Dignity’ and also added in some crocosmia, some Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’ and some marigolds. There is a backdrop of the strong purple coloured Aster Helen Picton and I’ve always fancied having orange and purple together. I look forward to seeing how its works next year.
I’ve also moved some potentilla ‘Helen Jane’ because it clashed too much with the Geranium ‘Mavis Simpson’. Those two different pinks just don’t go together.
I’ve barrowed compost into the garden, dug over another border which is now ready to plant up with new plants and have planted some other shrubs and perennials anywhere where there were gaps.
I’d like to get some more done in the garden while its still quite mild but will wait until its stopped raining.
Today I removed 3 barrow loads of Verbena bonariensis from just one border. Now there’s plenty of potential to plant new plants. We’ve dug over some of the area, although it was extremely hard work, the ground is still very, very dry in spite of all the rain we’ve had in the last few days. Next we added several barrows of compost which will gradually work its way into the hard clay soil. Now I have decisions to make about what plants to add. I may increase the number of Erigeron ‘Dignity’ which flowers for ages, and I might plant some marigolds in front of them. I like the idea of orange and purple together. There are already some Iris sibirica in this border and, again, I will probably add in some more. It might be a mistake but I am thinking of adding some Carex dipsacea which will be in keeping with the orange/purple theme, my hesitancy is due to the fact that they do self seed rather a lot and I do get annoyed at all the self-seeding plants I already have everywhere.
I can think about all this for a day or so because tomorrow looks as if it will be wet all day.
It seems that everyone on Twitter is waxing lyrical about ordering their new seasons bulbs and getting excited at the thought of planting them. Am I the only one who hates planting bulbs?
My first problem is that the ground is usually rock hard in September and October so making planting holes (some do need to be quite deep) is hard work. This year its almost impossible to dig to the right depths. Incidentally, there are many people who don’t plant their bulbs at the correct depth.
Then, having decided where to plant, I start to dig and immediately find existing bulbs right where I plan to put the new ones, and damage them and get cross. This is quite a large garden, how come I keep trying to put bulbs in the same place? I never plant them singly, life’s too short, but try to make decent sized holes and put in up to 10 bulbs together. This is all hard work in my opinion and when they are all planted you have to wait 6 months for your reward, that’s if the weather is fine enough to be able to walk round and see them.
Years ago I decided to avoid all this autumn nonsense of digging in hard ground and slicing up existing bulbs. Now when the order arrives I plant them into pots. When it is spring and all the other bulbs have shown themselves in the garden I can see where the gaps are and that’s when I do my planting.