30th January
These pages are a rolling diary of the changes and events in the garden for the year 2020 in words and pictures.
The east winds early in the year took their toll on the boundary fence. After a rather exorbitant quote from a local firm to replace it I tried two hit-and-miss fence panels mounted between new posts to see if it was a viable wind barrier. Usefully we had more gales straight away, and the two panels didn’t blow down so another ten were purchased and installed. The ground was very heavy until mid-March and the hardest part of the job was clearing the bramble roots along the line, finally after partly dismantling the compost box nearest the fence the last panel was installed on 27th March.
The beech tree was starting to overhang the house so we called in Matt Dustan to give it a trim. On 19th January he managed to complete this without having to climb up using a very long pair of loppers. Unsurprisingly there wasn’t very much cut wood that could be used in the woodburner so most was sent to the bonfire.
26th February and the pendula rubra is starting to show flower buds on the branches. The flower bed has previously been ravaged by rabbits but 2020 has seen a marked decrease in their numbers, particularly after their run under the potting shed was wired off. The owners of the field behind had finally decided to put proper stock fencing along our border so combined with our rabbit-proof fence most find it difficult to get in. Not the deer though.
27th March, onions just planted in Bed 5. The garlic in Bed 4 had come in for some unwelcome attention from pheasants so had to be covered for a while. Just see the edge of Bed 3 growing “green manure” which grows, dies and you dig it back in again to add to the ground. All the beds again this year have been treated with slug nematodes, as has the polytunnel. In the background the pyracantha hedge has again suffered from fireblight in two of the plants. Fair to say this idea hasn’t been a roaring success as a hedge.
First week of April and the pieris originally from Warwick 2001 has put on a great display of new leaves, plainly at home in our acid soil. The magnolia stellata is in full blossom in the background. Just behind its main trunk is a small protected bed for the snake’s head fritillaries, so badly trashed by rabbits in 2019. This year success! The flower heads have since turned to seed pods and are being left to seed the patch for more flowers next year. There is an old rhododendron stump in there too, we have a viable cutting from it so should find out what colour it is when it chooses to flower.
The magnolia growing at the north-west corner of the house has been a concern for some time. Its upper branches hit the roof if not trimmed and there must be a possibility of roots growing into the house foundations. So it had to go. We trimmed the easy lower branches down and left it while it flowered, then on 11th April, by roping the upper three branches in turn with Lesley pulling them away from the house while I cut through the base we managed not to drop any large pieces of magnolia through the roof. All now either burned or cut up for woodburner fuel 2021-2022 in the logstore.
12th April. The rescued amelanchier tree on the right flowers at the same time as the prunus “Shogetsu” and both trees have defied my predictions by growing well since we transplanted them in November 2016. The amelanchier produces edible berries but the blackbirds finish them off before we get a chance of a taste usually.
January to April
The little apple tree which lived in a pot in Warwick has come in for the same treatment from the deer as in 2019. On the left, 23rd April, plenty of blossom and leaves. On the right a few days later just about everything stripped off. No wonder the poor thing never grows.