A gardener unleashed

Still spring like weather here and the water is flowing merrily at our source. Which means that the hose that feeds the troughs in the courtyard is almost overflowing. I can’t abide the waste of this precious water. (Our previous owners had sheep, so just fed the water down pipes to the water trough in a lower field). So I have been propping the watering can under the hose and catching the rather constant drip.

And this means I seem to spend the day walking over to catch the can as it spills to overflowing levels and water therose-planters.JPG rosemary plant like mad. And giving the roses a dose. I put the second climber New Dawn on the same wall as the first. This will hopefully cover the whole wall behind the artichokes in summer.

And resisted the temptation to plant it in my newly painted but forlornly empty Other Planter. I will have to buy another Gertrude Jekyll rose to join its mate. It would be too confusing to have too many roses with different scents on the same wall. And of course it means I will have to dash back to a garden centre to look for the rose. They don’t have that variety here in Valence (no surprise there, everyone has their own roses) and I may even get reckless and buy a third and try growing three roses all the way along the wall.

Hmm. Yes it seems as though I have inhaled too many paint fumes this week and have mad ideas way beyond my means. Or I’m just dying to do things I have been dreaming of for years and have suddenly Become Unleashed.

Back to watering. It’s what I did all day. Dosed up the herbs, the figs, the currants and the strawberries.

As a break from the wheelbarrow work of moving yet more soil around, I took a walk down to the vineyard, which tends to be out of sight out of mind in terms of a gardening project. Oh what on earth to do with that huge space? I went as far as borrowing a book on vineyard management from the library. But haven’t even studied it. Just photocopied, filed and moved on to something easier.

I went down there to retrieve more hoses and some wire that we saw on the weekend. Some good loot too – lots of connectors and metal bits on the hoses that we can use. And lots more lengths of the stuff. Plus a rake and a hoe. The wooden handles are a bit parched, but once they get oiled (oh when do I find the time for that?) they can stay up at the top potager. No use hauling tools from one potager to the other.

There is more to bring up the wire and about a few hundred more feet of hosepipe. I need to get them before spring really leaps into its full rampant mode and covers up the loot for another year.

And as I came back I was in a quandary; do I weed the strawberry bed or start on the lilac and deutzia bed? And then a wicked thought came to me: I can do both. Have a day off – do nothing but gardening. The whole day. And that is exactly what I did.pruned-lilac-bed.JPG

The lilac bed is choked with brambles, ivy and some mystery ground cover plants. I started at one end and worked my way up. Most satisfying to pull out long strands of ivy or six feet lengths of brambles (I had my extra special bramble gloves on).

So summary of the day:
Got the last scraping of paint onto the extra rose planters; they looked hideous in daylight. And my fingers were frozen -time to warm up with hauling soil to the extra herb beds and tulip beds.

Planted lily of the valley and orchids in the rose planters. Planted bulbs under the viburnum (snowball tree) and more iris bulbs under the wisteria. Alas I seem to have developed the same bad habits – not remembering what I planted and forgetting to label things.

transplanted-rosemary.JPGThe big job was the rosemary bush. It came out rather easily (had I cut off all the roots?) and I whisked it up to the prepared bed. Thank god for that endless supply of good soil up at the shed. Shame it is such a trek. But my goodness it’s great exercise.

And then with all that lovely space around the rosemary bush I ripped out the twelve thyme bushes I had hastily planted down the row in the dusk last night. And then placed them around the new bed. Looks so much better. A mulch of gravel around the plants, endless watering and it looks great.transplanted-herb-bed.JPG

The strawberries were choking under weeds. So it was time to get into the bed and grub them out. The nettles haven’t started up yet; I seem to recall a rather lush patch at one end of the strawberries. But it can’t be long now.

I avoided the weeding of the main beds of the potager. One is full of garlic and onions, which are romping away (deer don’t like them). And one is ready to be planted up with the tomatoes and such in spring. Right now all I am doing is potting up lily bulbs into big containers and burying them in the middle of each section. Hopefully they will thrive and be useful cut flowers, not to mention a rather attractive floral feature when things take off.

Will they take off? This time of year is so odd. You think about all the amazing growth that will occur in just a few weeks time. But wish that it were only vegetables seedlings and flowers that push up – rather than the strimmer fest of weeds that are poised to burst out of the soil. I will probably have to spend a day a week with the strimmer just to keep it all in check.

After all the lilies, as a change I potted up 15 gladiolus bulbs into their pots and placed them in the vegetable garden as well. I seem to be cramming the whole garden into that small space as I haven’t worked out a design for the rest of it yet. Can’t get that done until the walls are built and they aren’t happening right now.

I stalked into lunch (brief pause to stoke the fire with more wood and wolf down some cheese). And then started onto the biggest job; covering the top of the bed near the vines with a weed poof fabric and somehow making them pretty. I don’t think I dared take photos of the mess last year.gravel-bed.JPG

It was just a bramble patch with a top dressing of self sown hollyhocks everywhere. Not to mention wiring all over the place. It was hideous. 17-top-of-potager.JPGSo it was out with the scissors and try and cut the fabric to shape around the annoyingly large rocks that sit as a decoration and weeding tool inhibitor in the middle of the bed. I had to scrape the pebbles and gravel from the main courtyard and cover like mad. It looks fine. If a bit spare – but I think it will be a thousand times better than choking with brambles and rampant hollyhocks like we found it this year.new-gravel-bed.JPG

Naturally with planters on the brain I thought I could do with another small planter and a big lemon verbena plant at the end of this bed. A sort of punctuation mark for the courtyard. But excessive is also what came to mind. Besides the lemon verbena will need protecting in the winter; I managed to kill the little one I bought in the summer. So should I put the planter on rollers and wheel it inside for the winter? It will probably weight too much and I may forget. Nothing worse that killing plants with neglect. But it was such a lovely spring-like day it feels like a long way from another winter.

Mind you I am writing this in front of a roaring fire in the evening so winter isn’t quite over yet.

Last task of the day (apart from the extra watering of more transplanted plants) was to try and cover the bald patches in the courtyard gravel. I did have to scrabble about to get enough to cover the fabric. And as a result the main courtyard is a bit thin. Oh for a shipment of about five cubic metres of gravel.