The last of the early Spring bulbs have gone over now.
I didn’t plant any new bulbs, in the ground or in pots, last Autumn or Winter because we were just too busy clearing away all the outdoor debris. (We still are. And we’re going to need a jack hammer! ) I hadn’t really made any sense of the sprawling space or properly worked out what and where the garden’s bones were (or indeed if any of those old bones remained unbroken).
At the bottom of the uneven, top steps, below the anemones, a few nearly forgotten tulips are still successively appearing in cracked pots, having barely survived one too many late frosts over the last few years. I have decided that bulbs – camassias specifically – are the best candidates for repeat planting around the entire garden to help unify the discrete sections and I’ve planted the garden’s very first Camassia ‘Caerulea’ bulbs, quietly and without fanfare, in the shadiest corner of the recently dug out ‘winding’ border which weaves itself, wonkily and a little confusedly, between two young, delicate blossom trees and an imposing, rusting trampoline.
The amelanchier and great white cherry blossoms are newly echoed on the far side of the garden by this year’s first impulse buy – a once neglected Magnolia Stellata. I only popped into the nursery for some compost. And there was this little plant, trying desperately to be a much bigger plant. It sat in a corner amongst some straggly grasses, looking very sorry for itself – like it had accidentally wandered off and got hopelessly lost. That it was a magnolia of some sort was obvious – but with its buds tightly closed and no identifying label to be seen – I could only best-guess which variety it might be. Its stems were all crossed and, upon closer inspection, it revealed itself to be pot-bound. The kind of plant that gardeners in the know advise you to walk away from. And at first I did. But then I felt so terribly guilty that I walked right back, quickly negotiated a mutually acceptable price (before I could change my mind again) and hastily concluded my emotion-led purchase. Planted out, the once sad, still diminutive magnolia is now looking a lot happier – and seemingly grateful to have been found. The buds, though few in number, have bloomed big and bright. Just how I imagined and hoped they would.
I’ve been seed sorting and sowing.
The winding border, which transitions its way from annuals through cottage-garden perennials before finally reaching the camassias, begins its mixed meandering with a newly sown salad bar. The Rocket has taken off exactly as its name implies and more than convincingly won the germination race. Still yet to sprout are the perpetual spinach beets, spinach ‘Apollos’, ‘Little Gem Delight’ lettuces, ‘Fire Fresh’ chards, ‘Biggy’ chives, ‘Robin Hood’ broad beans, ‘Solo’ beetroots and the two types of edible flowers I’ve sown- Calendula ‘Snow Princesses’ and Nasturtium ‘Milkmaids’. Bookending the salad leaves, Boy and I planted out a triangle of rhubarb crowns – a ‘Timperley Early’, a ‘Raspberry Red’ and a ‘Victoria’ and three varieties of strawberries -‘Symphony’, ‘Honeoye’ and ‘Elsanta’ in strawberry pots. We won’t harvest any rhubarb this year (Hubby will have to wait a whole twelve months for his rhubarb crumble) but I’m hopeful, if we’re attentive to the exact timing of their ripening, we might beat the wildlife to at least some of the strawberries. We’ve left a curve large enough for a small pumpkin patch where we can sow carvers for Halloween and the raised, mini glasshouse – or glorified cloche – has been reserved for half-hardy basil when the last frosts have finished. The gaps in between I’ll fill with chamomile for brewing tea.
The winding border sits along the front edge of the top tier of the garden. The border containing the little magnolia tree sits between the lawn and the boundary fence on the bottom tier of the garden. Like the upper border, I have shaped the lower one with curves rather than straight lines but, unlike the upper border, I have reconfigured the lower one out of a pre-existing long border which was once tended by someone, sometime in the garden’s very distant past. It had clearly not been looked after for some years though and had deteriorated into a scratching, stinging, tangled knot of weeds, brambles and overgrown scrub which fought back valiantly, drawing blood, when I started pulling it all out. It’s a shame about the tall, hairy stems, the overbearing, unpleasantly rough-to-the-touch leaves and the chokingly pernicious tap roots because some of those weed-blooms are a really rather lovely, intense hue of blue. And in their torn out wake, I uncovered what can only be described as a sycamore nursery bed!
I haven’t removed all of the sycamore saplings. I’m actually contemplating inviting one or two of the tallest to stay. What can I say? As the garden birds, the new view from my kitchen window – and my aching back and muscles – can all testify to today, I’m an absolute sucker for trees!