Busy as a bee


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.


11 thoughts on “Busy as a bee

  1. You’ve been busy! We turned over our compost heap yesterday and have a big pile to spread around the garden asap. It’s hugely satisfying 🙂 Your newly planted bed looks great – Magnolia Stellata is a great idea and that clematis is one of my favourites. You’ve reminded me that we’d like to grow more clematis here… Have a lovely Easter, Sarah, and I hope you get to spend plenty of time in the garden or at the allotment. My anemone corms arrived on Monday, so I’ll be planting them. Sam x


  2. Wonderful, you have been working hard, you’ve completely put me to shame. I have very high hopes for the Easter hols and dragging the children down to the plot to “help”, or at least to accompany me. I love that you have a closed loop in your garden of all your own compost. The soil sounds absolutely fantastic. I have nice soil at the allotment, but at home it’s horrible nutritionless dust that dries out in about half an hour. I really need to improve it drastically somehow. I shall enjoy following your garden and allotment progress. CJ xx


  3. Wow, you have done so much! You must be exhausted. I am sure that your garden is already looking wonderful after all of that tending though and will be even better when the summer comes. It is great that you can make so much of your own compost. xx


  4. I don’t know if it’s the same in your neck of the woods but we could really do with a bit of rain.. The garden and the gardener! I’ve been racing against time to get a whole load of things moved and have more or less finished it today. I need a rest.
    Magnolia stellata is a great shrub, I’m sure it will do well there.


  5. A busy bee indeed but very satisfying work I should imagine. How lovely to be outside all that time! Gardening here too and will turn the compost next week- we have grass snake eggs incubating in it so have to make sure they’ve hatched first! Xx


  6. You’ve been working so hard! I’m sure your back yard and the allotment will be both be beautiful and productive for you this year, with all the hard work you’ve put into them. We would really like to start composting more soon; right now, we mostly compost the straw from the chicken coop and some other leaves and debris, but I’d like to start doing more with our own food waste. We need to by a good composting bin for that, though, and they are quite expensive. Eventually. I hope you’re having a good week, Sarah. Happy Easter to you and your family.


  7. Hello there. Thank you so much for popping by my blog. Goodness, you have been a busy bee in the garden. Your soil looks fantastic and well done on all that composting. Storm Katie seems to have disappeared today, so I’m hoping to take a leaf out of your book and get out into the garden. Happy sowing. xx


  8. Goodness, between your home, the cottage and your allotment, you must be completely exhausted! I hope you were able to put your feet up over the (wet) Easter weekend. I’ve been desperate to get out in the garden since the schools broke up for the holidays, but the weather has so far conspired against me. Perhaps this weekend. xx


  9. That’s an impressive stint in the garden, Sarah – I hope that the Easter Monday storm allowed you to put your feet up for a while. I tend to be the same in going into the garden with a few jobs then finding more stuff to do and staying out for hours – I do love it but I also need to know that I’m prepared for seed sowing when it starts. I relished the rain that fell as I’d been out watering some newly plantings in the previous week so it was a relief that the ground had a good soaking. Let’s hope for some more good weather throughout April. Happy gardening, Caro x


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