Two Weeks Ago It Was Winter: Now It’s Summer!

This has been a year when the climate, the weather and the season, all seemed to have mirrored the state of my health. So for most of the time it was it was pretty grim, then I had the good news about my prostate and suddenly the sun came out. I won’t say it’s exactly warm and relaxed either outdoors, or inside my rapidly-turning-bionic-body, but I think the worst is over. Most importantly, I’m starting to tackle – I almost said I was beginning to get on top of – some of the VAST backlog of tasks that have accumulated in the garden, over the past six months. I have to say this makes me feel better than any actual physical improvement. And who knows, with a bit of luck and a reasonably dry season, we might just have got the garden into a fit state to open to our NGS visitors on the 15th and 16th of September. That’s in just four months’ time! Don’t panic!!

So now I thought I’d do a quick tour of the garden using pictures I took yesterday, May 14th, on a warmish late spring morning, following heavy rain (15mm) a couple of days previously. The first picture is a general view taken from an upstairs window. I’d mown the lawn three days previously, because heavy rain was forecast – and I think it paid off. We use a powerful (16 hp) mulch-mower, which leaves chopped grass on the surface when the lawn is growing fast and heavy rain washes it down. And that’s what’s happened here. That’s why the lawn looks so good.

1 garden gv

Here’s a view along the small border that runs parallel to the main border, on the left. It’s starting to green-up quite well, I think. The main border still requires some cutting back after the winter, so I didn’t think it merited a picture.

2 small border.jpg

This is an unusual view into the rose garden, taken before the roses have come into flower. I think you get a better impression of this garden’s structure. And I love the greenness of everything. Plants look so lush in May. Incidentally, we’ve never been very keen on rose gardens that consist of roses, alone. I think other plants – shrubs and perennials – show them off to greater effect than just more roses. I suppose technically ours is a mixed rose garden.

3 rose garden

If I could pocket £5 for every time I got a ladder out and climbed up to the poop deck pergola on the back of the house last summer, I’d be a rich man. That wisteria grew so fast and there were so many sharp winds that I had to tie it in every four or five days. But now hasn’t all that effort paid-off? I’m absolutely delighted at the effect – and so soon. Incidentally, at least one of the grey squirrels that raids the bird feeders hanging on the poop has learnt how to bite through string loops. I think I’ll use tarred string this summer. See how they like the taste and smell of that!

4 wisteria

I fear this will be one of the last pictures of Ceanothus Puget’s Blue. The shrub is hardy in southern Britain, but doesn’t like it wet or cold (it’s a native of California, where it’s known as ‘Californian lilac’). Last winter a large branch split off, but rot has started to spread down towards the roots, so I think it’s days are numbered. We normally replace them every 7-10 years, but I won’t be without one: that blue is simply the purest, most gorgeous blue in the garden. Full stop.

5 Puget's blue

And finally, the first rose of summer, Rosa banksae lutea. I’ve managed to strike a couple of cuttings, one of which has at last got established out in the main garden, because this rose, which we planted against the wall outside the back door to the house, is simply far, far, too large for the available space. Every time I walk out to the barn I get stabbed in the eye by looping branches – and this can be a bit much during lambing, when I probably pass the rose bush ten or more times a day. So I plan to cut it down this summer, when it’s finished flowering. I meant to do it last autumn, but then my hip went bad and the rest, as they say is medical history. Which is where we came in. Chop, chop!

6 Rosa banksii lutea

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