For the last month we have had (extremely nice) builders here. They are mainly for the front of the house, which since the Wisteria has died showed up quite large holes in the masonry. So now this has become very obvious, and all the window sills were rotten. So new oak sills have been put in, and the whole of the house at the front has been repointed. This has been a big job. Now poor Polly has been clearing up the compacted mess. One lot of our Sarah Raven tulips have been decimated. Luckily there is another group of them so we can see what we were trying to achieve, and whether we like them enough to repeat it another year. It is only about five or six weeks until we have Clive’s photographic workshop, with the next day the Garden History Society coming. Polly has a holiday at the beginning of May, and Spring is probably our busiest time.
We now have a grove of five Magnolias down the left hand side of the paddock, escaping hopefully all the early frosts. They are all flourishing so far, and the soil down there is particularly good. These are all planted in square holes, which you should do now instead of round holes so the roots reach out into the corners. We have Athene, Aurora, Star Wars, Gold Star (creamy yellow), and Magnolia Sieboldi. Then before you get into the paddock there are Magnolia Stellata, Spectrum, and Lilliflora Nigra, which I remember seeing at Sissinghurst. Now the ivy is off the wall facing the kitchen, and goodness that looks a lot better, and that is in the progress of being pointed at the moment. My love affair with ivy seems to be over. I have felt very unfit as I have hardly gardened all Winter, but today the sun was shining and I have been out there all day. James is in Hong Kong at the moment on a case, and said he would like to be here, hotel bedrooms can be quite lonely. I have just had a lovely time having Thomas, Anya, and Nicholas staying, and my old friend Susie Gwyn, so have not had a moment to be feeling all on my own.