I’m a singularly uncommitted blogger, but that doesn’t mean I’m not out there, almost daily, still doing it! My garden calls to me more than the computer does, I’m afraid.
Every year it’s more rewarding. Having started the garden in 2012, there are some shrubs I’ve planted during the last five years that have probably given me real pleasure for the first time this year.
The winter-flowering honeysuckles finally did that thing of wafting their scent to me as I passed them. I planted two: Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’. Blow me if I can tell the difference (did I used to know?), but the pictures are of ‘Winter Beauty’.
Up in the Mirror Garden, the Chimonanthus praecox ‘Grandiflorus’ is actually flowering a little in its first year. Hurrah – I thought it might only begin after I was long gone from Chatillon and I was hanging back on the planting. Sad that the Bon Viveur was not here to see it, since he egged me on (his speciality).
At the top of the Long Border I finally have a nice show from Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Charles Lamont’.
In the same area of the garden I’m beginning to think that perhaps the bank (full of rubbish and the debris from the days when no one had the privilege of a regular bin collection) really will be covered in comfrey and hellebores before I’m gone.
Shame the honesty (Lunaria annua) won’t settle down in there – this year I’m trying my seedlings elsewhere in the garden.
The little woodland garden doesn’t look too shabby this year either. The Cornus mas is eventually going to live up to memories I have of wandering through large plantings of this sweetly scented winter shrub as a student, while I learned my plant names. Strange thing about the past … at the time we never realise that a hurried moment sandwiched between lunch and the afternoon slog will become such a precious memory. Savour those moments!
The woodland corner gives me much of what I ever wanted from a spring garden. Primroses …
…hellebores, Cyclamen coum …
… and the odd Fritillaria meleagris (they don’t really like the summer heat here, even in the shade).
Snowdrops and the happy little winter aconites are a memory now, but there’s still the pictures.
Narcissus ‘Jet Fire’ and ‘Peeping Jenny’ now in full flood. ‘Jet Fire’ is always the first daff here.
For some reason little white ‘Jenny’ (in the Rose Walk) does not ‘stay’ and bulk up as much as yellow and white ‘Peeping Jenny’. Don’t know if it’s the position (drier, more shade in summer), or perhaps something else.
I’m still excited when the daffs appear. Sadly, this year there will be far fewer tulips, because the budget allowed me to purchase zero bulbs last autumn. But even that has a bonus, because now I can look at the garden and see what are real ‘stayers’ and make notes.
Meanwhile, although many clumps don’t carry two leaves curled around each other to announce the arrival of a flower bud in the centre, the foliage of Tulip ‘Sweet Impression’ is still good value for money at this time of year in the Rose Walk.
And, for the first time (in the frame that stands to the back of the Rose Walk), I have some lovely juicy lettuces, raddichio, kale and rocket that passed this mild winter under a cover of fleece.
Time to start sowing again. This garden has the reputation of being the ‘earliest’ in the village (salad being an esssential ingredient of every French meal) and, after spring 2019, it seems I am finally beginning to live up to it!
I’m still getting muddy digging new borders in the rain – this must be an immutable facet of my stubborn personality, because I remember when I was little in my grandmother’s large garden I’d spend hours playing in the wet ditch that surrounded her rockery or raking autumn leaves to form the rooms of ‘mansions’ on the lawn. I do come in on time for my tea these days, however, and I’ve graduated to the pleasure of feeling clean after a nice hot bath.
Finally finished – my first orchard border, which now needs the mirroring border on the other side to make up the symmetrical pair. Next year. This year will involve removing a lot of couch grass that I’ll have left behind when I dug, but it doesn’t matter really … the first year is always a battle, then it gets increasingly easier if you stay on top.
The hemerocallis you see in the picture below are shooting in the Long Border. At this time of year they look so lush with young angelicas that have seeded about.
But, since this is the only stage at which I like them, they are due to go down to the new orchard border and the slopes above. The slopes are a (very) wild planting on a hard-to-garden site that is increasingly crammed with cast-off bulbs and shrubs moved from elsewhere
The Hornbeam Garden hedges (planted in 2015, I think) are finally beginning to look like something and spring is the best time down here. I need to increase spring and particularly autumn bulbs, since it’s dry and parched in the height of summer.
Unfortunately I seem to have lost two lovely spring shrubs (Viburnum ‘Watanabe’ and Philadelphus ‘Virginal’ – still small) in the summer drought last year, so I’ve definitely got to think again about how to clothe what is essentially a steppe or dry prairie habitat.
I’ve now forgotten about the problems with the voles that ate every damn thing I planted (unless it was in a wire basket) in my first and second years, the ‘vers blancs’ (chafer grubs) that consumed all my lovely dahlias – then started on the sedums – in the third year, even the box tree moth caterpillar that threatened the plants so important to the structure of the garden last year.
Although it has to be said that the moth and its evil progeny are an ever-looming problem. My pheromone traps are currently up at the house to be recharged for late March, April, May duty. You can see one hanging on the Vine Terrace in the picture below (no tulips in the blue pots this year).
Enough chat and on with the show … the sap is rising on the two old vines on the Vine Terrace under which the Bon Viveur had to painstakingly create his blue pergola.
And the insects were busy really early this year, during our lovely fortnight of sun and warmth at the end of February.
Curious – I’ve noticed that the carpenter bees that must be lodging in our stone walls love Helleborus foetidus more than Helleborus orientalis.
Before lunch last year the Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ next to the greenhouse brought them out in droves, to be replaced by honey bees in the afternoon. Perhaps they have a long afternoon nap?
Since it is now pouring with rain (again! – how I love spring rain), they’re well advised to doze away the rest of this wet Monday.