You have not heard from me for a long time, as I have been in hospital with pneumonia. Anyway I am back at home and feeling a lot better, and after all the snow had melted a Spring garden is emerging, and the days feel a lot longer. Thank goodness as I always hate the Winter and feel a new person when shoots are pushing up through the ground. After all the cold and ice all the Hellebores seem to be flourishing, especially my new white one Purity which came from Ashwoods Nursery. In the Spring border, facing the kitchen, we have taken out a lot of the Bergenias and planted quite a large yew dome instead, which looks much better. Do I really like Bergenias I ask myself. The Cotinus Grace died (it was very old and we used to cut it hard every year). All the ivy is off the back of the wall and top of the wall, a vast improvement. A triumphal arch is beginning to emerge (my Christmas present from James). My first species tulips are flowering, Tulip Clusiana, they come up every year, and increase. All the snowdrops seem to have doubled up and are still flowering. I do divide them when I remember, and the golden one, Primrose Warburg, I think is much more vigorous than Wendys Gold. James has gone skiing, and I am already missing him. On my birthday, I am hoping that both my sons and grandchildren are coming to stay. Dominic has got a new job and is going to be quite a lot closer which I am pleased about, near Salisbury. My Cornus Mas is flowering and looks so delicate, I love it, thank goodness for the Winter flowering things. Looking out of the kitchen window to my horror I saw a rabbit in the main border, its white tail bobbing around, and the squirrels are breeding furiously. I dont like either in this garden. My Magnolias in the paddock seem to have masses of buds on them which I am excited by. All the fritillaries are pushing up like mad, I hope I see them before we go to Corfu. The Epimediums have been cut down by Polly, and we have to sort out the Autumn Border which we have widened since Magnolia Spectrum was felled by the two lime trees.
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.
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.
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!