I have now been in Corfu for three days, and it is blue skies and hot sun, really most unusual for October. Very uplifting though, and we drove up the mountain to the hillside village of Rou where we had the luck to see masses of sternbergias growing wild up a steep slope. No wonder I have had no luck with them in England, and before coming out here Mark Griffiths had told me to move the ones I have got to another place. It is so exciting when you see plants growing happily en masse. We have so many cyclamen everywhere at Prosilio and they love it here as we are basically on rock. It is about time that I learnt to grow the things that are happy. Arbutus unedo grow wild here, and get huge, and if you wanted to you could eat the luscious strawberry like red fruits on them. They succeed with no watering of any kind, which is a huge bonus. James at the moment is struggling in with lots of olive wood, and when it is burning it smells delicious, with a flavour all of its own. The cats seem very pleased to see us, I think they get quite lonely on their own. Elpida gets horrified when she sees them in the house, and they rush out as they know it is forbidden.
My friend Caro is coming to stay tomorrow, and then we will go swimming in the sea which is at its warmest temperature now, though I will have to wear sea shoes as it is all pebbles everywhere. It is completely deserted now, which with this glorious weather is very special. We are thinking of doing mosaics in the courtyard, in the three arches which are on the wall facing you. I dont read much usually, but am engrossed in a WIlliam Dalrymple book called Return of the King. How I long to go back to India.
The storm bringing down large chunks of the first two lime trees has had an unexpected bonus. It has let a lot more light in, also with the loss of Magnolia Spectrum, and we are waiting to hear if we get permission to take down the two aforesaid lime trees which are now a very odd shape. We will also take about 20 foot off the top of the third one. We have enlarged the autumn border by about 3 foot starting from the gate to the first clump of Miscanthus Sinensis Yakushima dwarf. Hardly dwarf, they are enormous. You would not believe it but it has taken the main part of two days to double dig it, taking out roots of the Magnolia and the Prunus Serrula, and saving various narcissus that were there. I was doing it yesterday (and enjoying it) but am feeling quite stiff today. When we get permission, we hope, for the lime trees, we will hire a machine to grind out the roots of three small trees. We are going to take out a Prunus Yedoense in the paddock, which is interfering with the beauty of Quercus cerris variegata. We are going to take out Cotinus Grace which has been in for years, and suddenly seems to have developed a very unattractive wilt all over. As I look at it directly from the kitchen and my bedroom, I could not bear it any longer, and it just needs the stump digging out.
We had Mark Griffiths and Yoko to lunch on saturday, and as a result have moved several clumps of Sternbergia that are refusing to flower, after three or four years. Mark thought I was giving them too rich soil, and when I think of. Corfu and them all growing in rocks and crevices, I think he is probably right. They have at least increased a lot! I even found them difficult to grow in Corfu, so we shall see. The garden is looking beautiful and full of colour, but where would I be without asters and dahlias. I wish more people would come and see it now.
You must never have a garden without Asters. They flower for such a long time, are the most vibrant colours you have ever seen, and prolong the season. They dont seem to have any problems, though one of mine had some mildew on which has now gone, probably because we have had plenty of rain. You should divide them in the Spring, and we did this with Harringtons Pink, and were very successful. It seems to be a particularly vigorous clone. Polly has been on holiday this week, and Colin has sorted out all my problems with the computer, I expect it took him hours and I am very grateful. What would I do without him. The asters go very well with grasses, which I hope you all like.
I had about eight visitors on friday, and what a difference it makes when they are all enthusiastic. One lady recognised Parahebe catarractea which no one has ever commented on, and I have had since the days of my friendship with Dianey Binny and Betsy. I spent a very entertaining time with them, and was pleased that their favourite border was the Autumn Border, which has been vastly improved by the addition of yellow. The dogs are sitting outside the blue gates, waiting for James and their walk. Tensing is not allowed one yet, as is still recuperating from his operation. It is already very autumnal, and some trees have dropped their leaves already. In the potting shed there seem to be hundreds of tulip bulbs waiting to be planted, but there is no hurry for them before November. The Malus Hupehensis are covered with red berries, and I have been cutting off the dead leaves of the peonies. In November we take off all the leaves of the Hellebores. We had a two page spread in Country Life this week by Clive, of the garden with alliums. I was thrilled as it was a complete surprise.