Mini meadows

Well, in from the first day of full gardening: and we are now the proud owners of two very thin strips of meadow. Dug over, raked, smothered in sand, and sown. Not a brilliant picture; must do better.

Then looking at my mighty list of Chores to Achieve I went out and threw a handful of growmore around all the fruit trees. It’s a long walk. Lovely to see them all safely through the winter and even in blossom. Pics of them look dreadful as they are so caged.

Also threw some growmore at the plants in the lilac bed. It’s a hive of activity in there, and I haven’t even planted out the asters. Can’t wait to see what comes up. And the Clematis are happy under the vines in the strawberry bed. They had a bit of a tough year last year getting accidently weeded. But now they are the stronger for it. Just look at that growth. I think it’s Clematis Miss Freckles, a good do-er. So we shall see if it actually climbs up and competes with the grapes.

Planted more verbena bonariensis in the border near the vegetable garden. At first glance I thought all last year’s ones were dead. They were certainly put through their paces with the endless snow and cold. But there are signs of life. And I do have about twenty more in the potting shed (cuttings) that are putting on some growth to add later.

As was my habit – I rootled about the seedlings mid morning with a cup of tea and found that the greyhound cabbages were bursting and ready to prick out and pot on. One month is all it took in the cold weather to get them up and running. And I have potted them into the next size up. Blow me if there aren’t another whole tray of the wretched things germinating. I don’t want to repeat the experience of last year when I was drowning in brassicas. And believe me, when you have just come in from a solid hour of cutting back the kale, and picking armfuls of purple sprouting broccoli in April, you will know that I had too many.

But after about twenty five greyhound pots I realised that this is madness: time to be outdoors as the weather is threatening later in the week. And I love being in my shed when it’s hammering down outside and I have seeds to sow and plants to prick out.

So armed with fork, new whizz compost bag and kneelers I set about making the little wildflower meadows next to the barn. This is the path that is just a sea of weeds in summer. And a complete waste of space. I had first thought to just sow grass seed: but no. That would mean hauling the lawnmower over the gravel courtyard each week, and grass is dull. So step up Pictorial Meadows perennial mixture ‘purple haze’ which was a lovely birthday present. A tiny packet of 20 grams of just wild flowers. But that was enough to do both sides of the barn.   As the blurb says: A colour-themed mixture of predominantly purple and blue, with billows of white for contrast. Main species include Columbine, Greater Knapweed, Field Scabious, Wild Carrot, Hedge Bedstraw, Meadow Clary, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Flax, Oxe-eye Daisy, Purple Loosetrife, Purple Coneflower, Prairie Aster, Joe Pye Weed.

Twas laborious getting out the weeds, raking and such. But once the sand was down (odd, but that’s how the best stuff gets sown without competetion from weeds) it looked quite fun. Can’t wait for things to pop up. And believe me, if their Joe Pye Weed comes up before the ones I have sown indoors in perfect conditions I will be cross.

Don’t mention the cleome. Still not up. I never succeed with that wretched seed.   And am haunted by pictures of it everywhere – positively hedge like in it’s blanket border of a potager approach, or up against some impossibly pretty provencal farm house. I managed just three plants last year, and they were the pink ones. I do prefer the white. But one must be patient and hope for the best.

Once the major work was done I started on a new project: a planting scheme for the bank near the chestnut steps. It’s to be a combination of filipendula rubra, joe pye weed (if it germinates), calamagrostis Karl Foerster plus a few other grasses in the front; probably miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus. Plus stipas. I had thought of doing pennisetums. But they have all gone into the maw of the bank which sucked up 51 of them last month and I can’t even see the effect they have made. Green growth on a few of them thank goodness. But I should have held some back for this new bit. But the Gracillimuses should do well. I just had rather planned on a slightly purplish theme. If they thrive I will repeat them further along the bank. This picture will locate the fourth terrace bank in the whole picture. Actually what I need is an aerial view of the farm so everything can be viewed in context.

And so to the house: euphorbias and lovely, lively purple wildflowers that I found down near the lower terraces on my walk to the apple trees. They are honesty of course, a plant name I was completely ignorant of and now see everywhere (thank you Andrew.) And once the seed pods set, they will be spirited down to Les Vans to be made into wreaths.

Then, just as a light sprinkle of rain helped my newly sown beds along, out came the lawn mower for its first of the year job. The lawn and the approach along the front of the house have had their two cuts. Hurrah.

To finish I worked on the cabbage, sowed grass seed and built up a part of the lawn that had tried to join the lower terrace after a heavy shower of rain the month before. Can’t wait for tomorrow; my list of chores is even longer than today.