30th January
These pages are a rolling diary of the changes and events in the garden for the year 2020 in words and pictures.
May to August
7th May, the other side of the rhodis. Taken mid- morning, it shows that the hives on the right don’t get any sun until long after those on the left and our beekeepers have noticed some problems with damp in the right-hand hives. They are not as active as the others. On the other hand the gunnera really does like the damp ground here and is thriving.
Early May and the rhododendrons are in full flower, although some later than others. The red one is looking its best ever, and for the first time since we’ve been here the rhodi in the far north-west corner has flowered, a light purple colour. It has had some attention in the past year, dead branches removed and some of the encroaching undergrowth cleared. We also have a cutting from it in a pot which will find a new home when we’ve found a suitable space.
7th May and big beech has got its leaves on again, looks a lot tidier after the January trim. There have been many windy days here and we still get sizeable branches coming down from the cut.
This is a sorbaria we bought in the Pannier Market as we found the leaves very attractive. It does have small white flowers in spring. But it is a thug! Little sorbarias appear all over the place attached to long roots put out by the parent plant. It should be in a pot!
17th May our Madame Alfred Carrière rose has flowered, and unlike the pretender we bought previously it does have scent, white flowers, climbs and has few thorns. It is growing alongside the gazebo and we are hopeful that it will climb up to the roof.
Subsequent to the damp beehive discovery, our beekeepers decided on a bit of rearrangement of the hives as they have been offered an alternative site. Four of “our” hives from the damp side are being taken to the new site, but three other hives are replacing them over on the sunny side of this area, just in front of the big cypress tree. That tree has been home to an owl for a long time although we haven’t heard any activity for a couple of weeks now. Perhaps there aren’t enough voles left for food.
Vole tracks have appeared radiating from the foundations of the new workshop. The vole runs to the end of the track, nibbles a bit of grass, runs back to the hole by the concrete. Couple of minutes later comes out and does the same again, thereby extending each vole track. The culprit is caught on the right between nibbles.
19th June and a trial watering system is in place at the southern end of the polytunnel. The timer determines how long and how frequent the drip- feeders in the pipe get water from the butt, which we are setting by trial and error. We have had to up both frequency and duration in hot weather, but so far the plants watered from the pipe seem to be thriving. I’ve planted an established chilli, notorious for wilting in the dry, to keep a check on conditions.
The Golden Oat grass we brought as a small clump from Warwick. The rabbits ate most of it in 2015. Finally it has recovered and promises to do well where it is.
We’ve bought two banana plants in pots, one hardy one not. One is in the pleasingly full flower bed next to the gin palace, where everything is looking good and so far untouched by rabbits. Which are back unfortunately. On the right is the avenue with the new prunus, the branch almost ripped off by the deer seems to be healing as none of the leaves have drooped since the damage a while ago. The smoke bush at the top is the best it has ever been, probably because the deer have left it alone for once.
A mystery. 2019 we planted many peas and had many plants. This year only two came up, and where there should have been a pea plant little depressions appeared. Something seems to have taken the pea seeds, and very neatly. Looks too neat for voles to me, and I thought it may be crows but covering another sowing with fleece didn’t stop it happening again underneath the fleece as seen here on 22nd June, so unlikely to be birds. No further theories!
22nd July. Progress with the two beds planned for either side of the pagoda. This side has filled nicely this year with the red crocosmia “Lucifer” and the white agapanthus doing particularly well. All the re- planted hydrangeas have responded well too. It is intended to link all these smaller planting circles together to make big beds covered with bark mulch. Means less grass cutting which is always a good thing!
Some success in the polytunnel - the cucumbers are even more prolific than last year. We introduced ladybirds to combat aphids and whether or not it is down to them we have had much less damage to the crops. Courgettes are excellent, tomatoes still developing. The row of carrots near the door have been amongst the best although how this one decided on growing like this I can’t imagine. Legs crossed… then again… tasted good even so.
The bed where the magnolia tree lived until April has been transformed. This was 1st August, the canna is flowering and the purple verbena is a good contrast to the rest, despite it actually being a mistake, we thought we’d ordered something different! The ground has been fully covered with bark mulch to combat weeds, it took just about exactly one ton of the stuff to cover this. We decided against another path across the middle of the bed, the mulch is robust enough to let you walk anywhere on it so there seemed little point.