First flowers

It’s a photo session this morning, no time to do more. I need to take note of the plants which are up and flowering early. As the shade garden is already problematic from a design point of view.

In the lilac bed the best early plants are the Persicaria bistorta superba. And aren’t they superb? I can’t wait for them to bulk out, and get big enough to take cuttings. I can picture this plant romping away in the shade garden and giving great pleasure to the early season growth.

Nothing else is up in the lilac bed: but the lavender is threatening with buds, and the rest all look healthy. Even the perovskia looks healthy which is great. Just a few weeks ago, they looked like weedy sticks.

Up in the shade garden the lupins are the only ones really putting up their flower heads. And they need more room already. In amongst these plants are baby gladiolus bulbs, and even some lilies. Next year they are going to get more room to grow.

Are these Lupin My Castle plants too pink? I still yearn from Lupin Masterpiece as there is more blue in the flower heads. But right now the colour is what I have and I will cherish them.  The rest of the shade garden is green. But the edges do have glimpses of nepeta six hills giant which came through the cold snowy winter.

Some of the geraniums are up. But I wasn’t attentive enough to note which geranium is which. Promise to be more diligent in my recording of the first flowers next visit. I did leave the labels at the base of the plants as I knew this very dilemma would occur.

The only other flowers showing promise (if you don’t count the flowering thyme all over the herb garden) are the roses in the courtyard. Not long now and the buds will burst.

My last task before heading off for the train was to take all my little seedlings down for a fortnight of babysitting. I knew it would be too onerous to ask Bernard to walk up each day to water in the shed. So I emptied the contents, placed them all in trays, and drove two loads down to Le Buisson and left them on Bernard’s terrace. Fingers crossed they will still be there mid May.


Weedy deeds 9th may

Ooh goody; I’m only ten days behind on this blog thing now. Luckily the cricket is on in the background and I am onto my second pot of tea. So I should be finished by lunchtime without going mad.

Here is the one gravel task that still awaits. I don’t think JB will be able to move his arms today after yesterday’s heroics with the barrow and the gravel. And mine feel as though I have hauled tonnes about as well. There is still the parking area to go.   But I ran out of weedproof fabric so couldn’t finish it last night. Actually I could have bought the fabric from the garden centre yesterday; but I am going to hold out until London. The stuff costs so much less there; and I am trying to be a teensy bit parsimonious right now. (There are plants to buy next week and I am sure to blow my budget at Beth Chatto and Great Dixter.)

I have rashly called this shot ‘Driveway before’; confident that before the month is out I can add a ‘Driveway after’ shot. All neat gravelled path and not a weed in sight.

Weeds. Now that’s a theme for today. Jean-Daniel came roaring past with his beast of a lawn mower last night – it does edges and looks like it was made in the century before last. Its cutting blade is about four feet across and he loves to do the edges of his road, our road and afterwards I notice that he is perfectly capable of taking out any plant you care to mention which gets in the way.

One can’t complain as the lovely man is doing a very good deed in keeping down the edges of the road. But I have lost two years of growth on my two fig trees which I planted in the east garden lawn. And have to fend off other plants with little green fences until they are tall enough for him to notice. He invariably strims at dusk as he is always running late in his daily chores.

So when he came by this morning to ask if I want my east lawn cut, I declined. What we see as a nascent wildflower meadow, everyone else sees as neglect. So I have mown a path in the middle of this lush growth and hope that satisfies everyone.

Actually Jean-Daniel is very lucky with his hired help: he has as many grass cutters as he wishes when he decides the grass is getting a bit too wild near his house. He just flips the switch on the electric fence and rides the horses up and leaves them for a few days to do their work.

They keep me company with their snorting and chortling as I work. And I spent hours nearby today: I set to by giving the shade garden its first ever proper weeding. The mulch is down but it’s not thick enough to cover all the unwanted grasses and mini brambles and chestnut seedlings which have popped up.

But you get results and by sitting in the shade it proved to be not too onerous a chore. Have I mentioned the weather at all this week? Gloriously sunny and warm. Every single day.

The lupins and lilies are now weed-free. And I even managed to clear a space for all the geraniums that are going to be planted out. If I wasn’t heading to London tomorrow I would let them grow on for another week. But with the temperature in the potting shed reading almost 26C they would cook after a day without a diligent watering.

So they may be teensy, and you may have to use the magnifying glass function on your keyboard to see them, but there are over seventy seedlings planted out. bu And in between I even added the digitalis alba plants that also put on growth. I have to put little marker sticks down where I have placed each seedling. Against the background of shady ground, a carpet of bark chip mulch, and a forest of lupins you would never see them until you step on them.

Back inside after a long and mighty watering. (These tulips are holding on valiantly) and that was it for the day.