Alan Waterhouse, our molecatcher, came early this morning, and has caught 4 moles. He liked our new glasshouse, and said he loved the colour. I do too, in fact it lifts my spirits every time I look at it. Today is a real Spring day, and lots of our crocuses are opening out on the crocus lawn. They are seeding all over the place and this time I am going to leave them wherever they land. Some of the narcissus which are coming up are in bud which is exciting.
All of our Sarcoccoccas are flowering, and when you pass them there is a drift of wonderful scent, though James has no sense of smell so he cannot enjoy that. Skimmia Kew Green is at it’s best, and the two ones on the right hand side have got huge, and will have to be taken back. The new one on the left has done pretty well too. Cornus Mas is about to burst into flower, and is a pretty shape. We have so many hellebores, which you hardly notice when we are in the middle of the summer. There are quite a few Elizabeth Strangman ones, and the rest are Ashwood. I think I prefer the former, they are not so big. Polly is at work on the main border, which is the last one to do. We have finished doing the compost heap border, leaving in it a large holly, and have taken the top off to make it bush more. This year we are dividing quite a lot of asters, which you have to wait to the Spring to do. It is a relief that last year we took out a lot of alliums, so we have not got that job in front of us. Every year you look forward to so much, because you hope that the changes you make are going to make it all much better! I am longing to see the new crocuses and narcissus that we planted last year, narcissus Copper Queen, and Crocus tricolor.
Today was like a Spring day, and I was working along the narrow border at the front of the house. Last year unfortunately the white wisteria turned up its toes and died. This covered the whole of the front of the house so it now looks very bare. James was more upset than I was as he was the person who had looked after it all this time. Wisterias take quite a lot of looking after, which is why I don’t plant one in Corfu. We still have the cheerful blue and gold sundial to look at, and have ordered a new, and hopefully prettier wisteria to go in its place which is blue and white, coming from Bluebell nursery. It is called Wisteria Brachyboytrys Okayama. We have got two coming, so hopefully we will not have to wait too long for results. It is a difficult position to cope with the front of the house, as the border running along it is only about six foot wide. Basically it has to have quite a few fairly structural things that you can look at all the time. We have three Taxus Baccata domes, one either side of the front door, and one at the far right hand side. There are five Miscanthus sinensis Morning Light, and Allium Mount Everest to flower at the same time as Magnolia Royal Star. It also has three Euphorbia Jacquemonti, one of the best. To my mind the smaller or narrower a border is the more difficult, and this is my only south facing wall.
There is a border at the far end of the left hand.side which is filled with about 5 Rosa Mutabalis, which have the advantage of continuously flowering all summer. Underneath is Aster Pink Buttons, which I found at a plant fair in France, and is probably my best Aster. On to the village street is a tall hedge of undulating Fagus Sylvatica, green, which is pretty but needs taking down a bit. This summer. I am not going to hustle people past this area, as I think it is worth looking at!
Walking round the garden with Polly this morning three thoughts went tumbling through my mind. Structure, atmosphere, and most important the ability to change your mind.
As mine is a small garden, 1 and a half acres, all of it must be used and pull its weight, particularly in the Winter. You see something newly planted, doing very well, even in this cold dank weather, and think I must have more of this. In the summer your eyes skim over the evergreen things, and are attracted by the bright colours of flowers, and combinations. But oh in the Winter how grateful you are for anything that is green and above ground. It is not long now until the crocus lawn at the bottom of the steps will become a blaze of soft colours. My best colour combination at the moment is Acorus gramineus ogon (gold colour) with a large Bupleurum Fruticosum in the middle of it, which needs two foot taking off the top of it. Scattered around it are Hellebores and some special snowdrops. Why does not everyone take to planting snowdrops? I am not saying you have to go for the very expensive ones, but they are so accommodating. Polly gave me 3 pots of snowdrop, Greatorex double Jacquinetta. Five years later I have about two hundred and only divided them once. You might laugh at me for counting them, but what a sense of satisfaction they give one. Apart from in the two circles in the paddock I have planted them in borders near the house where I can see them.
We have just ordered some Leander metal supports for our peonies. I don’t believe in staking things on the whole, except delphiniums, but our larger ones fell about and we were worried the stems would break. We staked them with with canes and twine but it did not look very good, so we are starting off with three medium sized ones. Why do we nearly always seem to order things when it is raining!
I have been walking round this morning trying not to tread on the grass, which I don’t think is going to unfreeze all day. The sky is blue, and there is beginning to be more light on the main lawn, not forgetting that we are a north facing garden. Aconites are beginning to show themselves more and more as the days go by, and plenty of my snowdrops are coming above ground, and one is very grateful to both these plants as they are the herald of Spring. My Cornus Mas is budding up which is exciting, and plenty of the hellebores are starting into life. I don’t want them to come up too far as they only lie down in this cold weather which I find distressing. Everyone should grow hellebores as they flower for three months which is treble the length of most other flowers. We should all be buying Tim Richardson’s latest book because it is so entertaining and well written, and you can just dip into it as it is a series of articles that he has written. I found myself laughing out loud about three times.
I am pretty relieved that we have not had snow yet and I hope we are not going to. My car is pretty hopeless in it as is James. There is a dreadful little dip which takes you with a rush and a skid onto the main road, hateful. Walking round the garden now it is the structure that you are grateful for, and in the last five years we have put in quite a lot more. Yew is surprisingly quick, as is Phillyrea. Really everyone should grow Phillyrea and so many people have never heard of it. Clive Nichols has got the most beautiful pictures of my garden in Spring last year on his website. If I am feeling flat because of our winter I am just going to turn and look at them.