It’s the time of year when enthusiastic gardeners and allotmenteers don’t stop until dusk. I am very familiar with the feeling of utter exhaustion when you have been working in the garden all day. Yesterday I started by emptying the compost bin and spreading trugs of black gold around the garden, moved on to preparing a new bed for planting and finished with raking and mowing the lawn after lots of contractors have been trampling around my small garden. At least the soil in my garden is as good as it gets thanks to 25 years of composting and practising a closed-loop system when it comes to garden waste. Digging over the ground after having an enormous cherry laurel removed last week was a pleasure, even the tree surgeon commented on the fantastic structure of the soil. For me composting is fundamental to the way I garden and means I never buy plastic sacks of compost or indeed anything in plastic bottles from the garden centre.
Thank you for your thoughts on my new border. Here it is before the removal of the laurel last week. In the end I adopted a pragmatic approach and released Magnolia Stellata from her large glazed pot. Behind and to train up the fence and through the trellis I set free another pot-bound plant – Clematis Etoile Violette. Around and about I planted a self-seeded agapanthus to shade the base of the clematis and a collection of white allium provided by Mike the Flower from the allotment. At the Wisley Spring Plant Fair on Saturday I bought the pale yellow Narcissus ‘WP Milner’ and half a dozen white nerine bulbs to plant at the front of this sunny west-facing border.
Already in the bed is white anemone nemerosa (from Siisinghurst last year) and several clumps of my faithful blue geranium which originally came from my mother’s garden over 30 years ago. After the rain I will dig up and split a few clumps of snowdrops and once they are planted I will spread a final layer of homemade compost to seal in all the goodness and moisture. I think it looks very pretty already and a million times better than the cherry laurel. I know from previous experience that the gap left from removing a large overgrown shrub soon closes as the surrounding plants breathe a sigh of relief.
My busy day ended yesterday evening at the allotment as my husband cut the grass and I planted sweet peas and another row of anemones. I bought 10 corms of the red, white and blue variety from the grower at Wisley and I will be sure to put them in a vase on Monday when they flower. We came home as the sun was setting so I had been outside working for more than nine hours!
In other gardening news we have replaced our fence along the woodland border which has required a little bit of plant re-jigging and resuscitation. Our native wild primrose is abundant in this border and is just starting to flower, although there is no sign of it yet in the damp ditches across the common. Luckily the snowdrops have finished and the epimedium, dicentra, lily of the valley, ferns and the hakonechloa that edges this border haven’t quite got going. Some of the erythronium and special narcissus may have been trodden on but the hellebores and violets have survived unscathed.
There has been lots going on at the cottage too. We have had the tulip tree thinned, the hedges cut and the gardener came this week to mow the lawn. I have pruned about 50 roses, including many sprawling climbers that cover the south and west walls and sorted out the collapsing arbour. I’ve tidied all the borders and re-shaped several large shrubs. We’ve also swept the terrace and paths, emptied countless pots of dead plant material and emptied all the black sacks of half-rotted tulip tree leaves, distributing the contents under the hedges. At least it makes a change from cleaning the cottage which is now as clean as a new pin.
Tomorrow I’m hoping to find an hour or two to do some direct sowing of salads and flowers at the allotment and to plant out a tray of broad beans. On Good Friday we shall be at the cottage mostly gardening but the weather for the rest of the long Easter weekend is not looking great. Oh well, I’m looking forward to some rain and if we do get a sunny spell I shall be at the allotment digging out my compost heap, planting potatoes and admiring my tulips. I’ve been cutting a weekly bunch of daffodils from the allotment since mid-February so I’m looking forward to bringing home a bunch of home-grown tulips to celebrate Easter.
I hope you are enjoying the spring surge in your garden and allotment. Yesterday I saw frogs, toads and newts in the pond and the first Brimstone butterfly fluttering by. I do love this time of year. I’ve just had a call from my daughter to say she is coming home tomorrow for Easter. She is excellent at weeding and seed-sowing so I may be making use of her skills this weekend.