Easter Monday. And boy did I have a festive day. I burst out the door early and just powered through the day. The forecast is for rain tomorrow, so I decided that every plant that could, should go into the ground. That meant plants that have been having a lovely life in the warmth and regular watering regime of the potting shed now have to learn to live out in the garden.
I kicked off with planting three clematis: don’t ask me how to spell it… warszawska nike… which I have decided can do their climbing work up over the rocks of the calabert garden. It is much too dry at the base of my many walls. And too hot. So I wanted to put them somewhere I can keep an eye on them and know they are going to have good soil.
And the soil underneath the lovely brf wood chips of the calabert garden is perfect. Moist, well conditioned, plenty of good funghi. And I have some room at the back of the bed now that I have removed the gaura.
I might not get much out of them this year, but at least I can see how they do. They claim to be hardy. So if they did start life in Poland, then I have a chance.
I’m optimistic about the honeysuckle as well. I have two rather plump looking plants of Lonicera periclymenum Belgica and these have joined up with the other lonicera japonica ‘Chinensis’ in the courtyard. It survived the winter. And I had a cutting from the mother plant of Chinensis that Jane and I took last year. It is just on the edge of ready to be planted out. But I was ruthless today. Out it goes. They are tucked underneath the large stipa gigantea plants beside the uprights of the grape vine supports.
Next up were all the lavenders (14 of them), the three perovskias, a caryopteris, possibly Kew Blue, and two euphorbias purpureas. Most of the plants have gone into the calabert bed that needed bulking out. Now that I’ve moved half of the eragrostis grasses out of there, I needed to fill in the gaps. And I have finally got round to moving the lavender hidcotes which I grew from cuttings two years ago and did that dumb gardener thing of just dumping them temporarily in the wrong space and forgetting about them for years.
Here’s hoping they will prefer the sunnier side of the bed. I have had a little rummage around the dead foliage of the six agapanthus I planted two years ago, but can’t see any sign of life. I guess being proud of choosing plants that can cope with minus 15C is all very well. But not much use when you get a winter of minus 20C for days on end.
No rest for the wicked. Next up it was the wildflower garden. I needed the spare soil to build up my little bowls in the lavender bank. So out came three wheelbarrow loads of good soil and then out came the rake.
I got the fright of my life when I went up to the potting shed to fetch it. I have a busy mole that digs holes all over the shade garden and makes a diagonal run near the shed. I was just walking past and stepped over one of these little mounds of soil when I suddenly saw digging and then paws. Ugh, I wasn’t ready for that. I have no idea what the mole activity is, but I had this vague idea they are nocturnal. Ours aren’t.
I have no love of the creature which insists on digging runs all over the place, but I don’t know what to do when confronted with one. Naturally my thoughts turned to the champion Mouser of the district – Artur. And in fact he wandered past about a minute after the paws incident. I pointed excitedly at the mound, and said the word ‘taupe’. But the cat just looked at me blankly, probably thought; mad human getting excited by a mound of soil and ambled past. So much for hunting today. He is in a very haughty mood indeed. I didn’t get a single bit of affection from him today.
The wildflower garden is now raked and sown and ready for a day of rain. I left some of the achilleas which have self sown so well. And I sowed some escholzias in other parts of the rich weed free soil. It’s always sad when you buy a packet of seeds and find barely twenty grains in one corner of the packet. That’s the case of the Californian poppies (easier to spell than escholzia) but the colours are so beguiling that I couldn’t resist.
So the soil. It was destined for the lavender bank. The trick is to look at the bowl of soil around the lavenders – cleverly designed to take a bucket of water and catch all the drops. Avoid looking at the green lush weeds around the plants. I’m just not ready to do a close weeding of this bank just yet. Next trip.
And I wanted to see if I could get the chestnut poles in place. I hammered in the metal rods as the upright supports. And did a first go of laying the poles. The aim is to have some horizontal supports that will hold back any erosion after heavy rain, keep the mulch in place and improve the look of the whole bank.
I need to cut more rods, and find a way of keeping things securely in place. It will look amateurish I suppose, but I’m resisting calling in the experts. It’s so much fun to try these things oneself.
One thing I am expert at is weeding; so I applied myself to that in the afternoon. Out came the buckets and gloves, down onto one’s creaky knees and off I went. The rest of the shade garden, the top side of the calabert bed (where I had to cut out a lot of dead lavender stoechas plants which Had Succumbed) and even the path underneath the walnut trees. I only managed to snag myself on hidden brambles once, so that was what I call a result.
Oh yes, and I planted 16 more cabbages in the top vegetable garden. It’s funny how you almost forget what you do. If I hadn’t taken this rather poor picture of them they would have slipped my mind.
I finished the day with riddling the compost and adding more as mulch to each little lavender plant and generally feeling exhausted but pleased with a fantastically productive day.