Hmmm. Yes, a little late to the party, I’ve been submerged under a pile of work and other chores, struggling to get any time in the garden, let alone time and energy to blog. In fact, without the efforts of TNG there would be precious little different in the back garden, other than the very welcome signs of Spring.
It was TNG who cut the grass, so that the kitchen garden looks tidy and the raised beds are actually raised above the level of the grass… The first of the sweet peas, broad beans and peas are in, as are the Jerusalem Artichokes that I swore I would never grow again due to the (ahem) flatulence. I am also growing sorrel though, so that should be fine… One thing I am really pleased about is the way that the fence no longer shouts out. Now that it is painted black, the bamboo, fatsia, Drimys lanceolata etc. really stand out.
The above shows how many gaps there still are in the Park border at this time of year, plenty of scope to add more spring flowering loveliness, though I am holding off a little to give myself time to plan a moderately coherent planting scheme. I have some day lilies to add to the border when I get some gardening time again, and some more aquilegias to add, and I also want to add some geums and geraniums, but I am undecided which ones. Also on the list are bulbs. Lots of bulbs, including erythroniums, and epimediums. Oh, and ferns. It will all be low growing since the dogwoods, edgeworthia and choisya will eventually dominate the space, but in the mean time I plan to fill the gaps with annuals.
I love the way the self-seeded Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are erupting at the back by the trellis – which needs painting, so that I can plant clematis against it. There are buds breaking out all over the place, on the fruit trees, the black elder, and most exciting, on the magnolia.
One bit of gardening I did manage to do was to plant out the wonderful gift Cathy@Rambling in the Garden sent me – a very generous mass of Anenome nemerosa roots, many of them with flower buds already.
Cathy took pity on me when I whinged about the difficulty I was having in getting wood anenomes established here. She sent me so many I was able to bolster the rather pathetic smattering under the acer and then have plenty over to spread under one of the plum trees and under the dwarf cherry in the front garden. They are such beautiful flowers, and it makes me smile every time I glance out of the kitchen window and see the little dots of white under the plum.
I did manage to finish edging the raspberry bed, which in turn gives me the edge to work from to define the back border. I have removed most of the log edging ready to square off the new border. I’ll have some useful new planting space in which to add some spring colour.
I was determined to have more colour in the back garden this year, and I have managed to set up the first of several new raised beds which will be filled with bulbs and annuals for cutting. I want this first bed to be full of vibrant colour, and have some dahlias potted up in the greenhouse. The others will probably be a little more muted. In time I will move more towards perennials in these beds, but at the moment I keep stealing time to drool over Louise’s (aka WellyWoman) wonderful book on cut flowers, ‘The Cut Flower Patch’. If you’ve not read it, I thoroughly recommend it, beautifully written and illustrated, full of great information and inspiration for anybody interested in having flowers for cutting. This first border is only 60cm (2′) wide, but I am already excited at the thought of vivid oranges, purples and blues singing out.
The pile of bricks you can see in the background is the result of TNG’s labours out in the front garden, where he has been demolishing the walls and water feature that cut the space in half, cleaning up the bricks as he went. I have become very interested in rain gardens, in the whole idea of managing water run-off from roofs and hard standing so as to lessen flooding. The past winter was so very wet, the beach road was regularly partially flooded due to the drain being unable to cope with the run-off. We currently have large areas of hard standing and I want to gradually re-lay paving on sand rather than mortar, leaving the joints open to allow water to seep away, make any new paths from gravel and bricks, again laid on sand rather than mortar or cement, and hopefully add a green roof or two.
We had planned to get somebody in to lay a new patio for us, and would have built the new raised bed after this had been done, but we didn’t want the disruption this year, and wanted to have more time to decide exactly how big a patio we wanted. Besides, a lot has changed in our thinking about the layout of the garden because of the need to re-site the aluminium greenhouse. Consequently we are taking an evolutionary approach to it all, and are aiming to experiment with patio surfaces rather than assume we will go for slabs. As for the greenhouse, it is going to go alongside the cedar greenhouse, oriented so that the wind flows over the ridge rather than hammering at the door. TNG has been hard at work removing turf, and once I get some free time to move the remaining plants from what was my little holding bed, we will mark out and lay a couple of paths using the reclaimed bricks and then firmly anchor the greenhouse down into its new home by bedding legs into concrete at each corner. Hopefully in time for the tomatoes to be planted out!
There will be a narrow utility path at the back of the aluminium greenhouse running to the raised concrete plinth that the cedar greenhouse sits on, and as you can see, the area of grass that was to be filled with naturalised bulbs will become somewhat marooned. So I will enlarge the bed instead, and use the fact that water running off the concrete platform means that the soil is always damp to plant it up with lush moisture-loving plants. Until the greenhouse is in place I won’t really have a good feel for how to plant it, but certainly some of the more delicate flowers in there will need to move to somewhere they will be more visible.
We’re both excited about the way that moving the greenhouse further into the garden like this will bring together all the “utility” buildings and really open up the space as you round the corner from the side path.
This area will be a real sun trap, and although we will need a clear route through to both the shed and the greenhouses, there is space for two more quite deep borders up on this platform once the slabs are lifted. Even better, by moving the path out from the back of the garage, I gain something very exciting.
A south facing wall to plant against. At the moment we are thinking fan trained cherry, but who knows. Peach? Apricot? A great set of new opportunities, all thanks to the wind wrecking the greenhouse. Without that, I am not sure we would have got round to thinking about siting the greenhouse anywhere else, not when there was already such an obvious spot to put it, one that had been used for a greenhouse before too.
Lots of work to do, so I am grateful to have the little raised bed alongside the patio, at least I can be confident of having one small patch of vivid colour this year. And who knows, the one drumstick primula lurking in the back border might be happy enough to seed itself around and add more jewel-like colour.