24th January, 2018

Finally my Word Press is working again, though Colin, Polly’s other half, said there was nothing wrong with it (he always says that and I have been struggling with it for ages, and it makes me quite cross.’ The two lime trees are down and the roots ground out, and slowly they will be put on the compost heaps. This was a big job and Polly and Neil worked very hard. It all looks very different down the bottom. We suspect that it is mice eating the heads off my special snowdrops in the paddock. Infuriating, and we dont think it is rabbits this time. ,It is now very mild again, like 50 degrees, and we have started work on turning one of the stables into two loos. My main job seems to be to stop Tensing from biting the two very nice workmen, he bit one last year, and give them lots of cups of coffee. We are having to lift the big stone sets, enormous, to run a pipe underneath to the main drain. Then I went off yesterday to Topps Tiles to chose the tiles for the floor. It was Charcoal in the end, non slip, and we are going to move the manger to put flowers in, James says I will never do it! We are sinking in a large coir mat as you walk in, inset, so that you can lift it out and shake it. We dont want to be spending all our time mopping the floor! This was all Polly’s idea and it is a good one. Polly is working hard cutting back the Klimt border, which she has nearly finished, She weeds it and fluffs it up at the same time, those are her words for it..

All the Allliums are coming up. Allium Globemaster is everywhere in the Burgundy border, I think it is the best and dies well, L’Ambassadeur, which has pink tips on the end of the leaf, but does not increase like Globemaster. Allium Purple Sensation, the most prolific of the lot and we culled it a lot last year, so much so that we had to fill in the gaps, not always very successfully. I gave a lecture on the garden the other day, and someone said that they were sure a garden like us never made mistakes. I replied that we made them all the time, how do you ever learn otherwise. When we filled in the holes for Purple Sensation, we put in a centaurea. It was too large and too shy flowerer, so it has already come out. Most of our aconites are flowering and I am about to do something quite obvious, place some of the golden aconites next to the dark purple hellebores. They look beautiful together.

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Monday, 15th January, a mild and wet day, 2018

It is only 50 degrees today, and I think how lucky I am compared to some of my friends in the States. James sets old fashioned traps with cheese for mice, and seems to catch one every time on the cellar steps. He tosses them from the kitchen door into the middle of the Bupleurum Fruticosum, and Temba who has a very good sense of smell stands there with a mouse in his mouth looking enraptured. I dont like mice much even when they are dead. Almost all the snowdrops are coming up and make a lovely splash of white. The Sarcoccoccas perfume the air as you walk past them, and the ones in the par terre have been pruned back a lot and are more in scale. The three Skimmia confusa Kew Green have got out of all proportion, and are going to be cut hard back after flowering. The two on the right are much larger. Tomorrow the two broken lime trees are going to be cut down, and I am rather looking forward to seeing what that looks like, as it will let a lot more light in. Tomorrow I have got my second lecture at Steeple Aston. I have already gone to see exactly where it is. Clive’s photos were so amazing last week that there were a lot of gasps in the audience.

0My Anemone Ingramii is flowering already. It is the deepest blue anemone blanda, the earliest to flower, and it comes from Greece. It is slow to increase but when it does is an eyecatcher. I first saw a large patch of it at Bob Brown’s nursery, Cotswold Garden Flowers, and it so impressed me that I never forgot it until I could get hold of it. It was difficult in those days. We are still cutting back the borders. My two circles in the paddock are starting to look interesting. By that I mean a lot of it is flowering, mainly the snowdrops, and the earliest Paeonie Mairei which we have divided into two. Thomas and Nicholas are coming to stay thursday and friday, and maybe we can sit down there.

A Week spent in MADRID. I have never sat at a cafe before for lunch, and been given the option of having a rug over my knees. Actually it was much warmer than England so I did not take them up on it. We were there for New Year, and everything was shut on New Years Day, so we went in the park in Madrid. Not really impressed, a huge amount of cabbages covering the entrance, and spotted them again elsewhere. Otherwise the only flowers were pansies everywhere. The Prado was wonderful, and so was our hotel, though very old fashioned. Back here and aconites, snowdrops, and a lot of topiary. I can see the lime tree lit with that amazing winter light looking beautiful. All the snowdrops have increased a lot which is exciting.

ONLY TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS

It is wonderful to think that the days are slowly going to get longer. It is now very mild at the moment and several clumps of snowdrops are flowering. What a heralder of Spring they are, their bright little faces popping up in several of the beds. Near the house Polly has been mulching the beds with leaf mould, at the same time taking off the leaves of the hellebores which are all beginning to flower. The beds look so pristine, and a relief to look at after all the bright colours we enjoy throughout the rest of the year.

Tomorrow Thomas is driving me and Nicholas up to Shropshire to stay with Dominic and Hetty and their two children, George and Arthur, who have a house near Ludlow, which has the most beautiful castle. The two dogs are coming too, probably in the car with James. We shall. be the most awful squish, but I am so looking forward to it, James and I are going to go to Madrid for a week after Christmas, and then in January I am giving two lectures at neighbouring garden clubs. Clive has taken a lot of time and trouble doing me a memory stick of all the best photos of my garden. He took some lovely ones this year, so they are fairly up to date. The last lot had a two page spread in Country Life and featured on how we used alliums in the borders. All the tulips have been safely planted, and the new colour schemes are exciting. Goodness there is a lot to look forward to next year!