While the mimosa tree and the shrubs were making themselves at home at the back of the garden I turned my attention to the hot, dry and sunny bank that runs down to the huge fish tank window to the study. We had covered all the new soil with the wonderful coir netting and my idea was to cut holes in the netting to plant low growing creepers of all sorts which will, in due course, cover the netting entirely.
Prostrate rosemary, lots of erigerum which, with their profuse, tiny daisy like flowers are such good value, carex, ajuga, calendula and, over the course of the summer, at least 20 other little creepers all of whose names I have now forgotten. And a few weeks ago a few bulbs of miniature narcissi. How many of them are going to survive the blanket of snow which now covers them remains to be seen.
I had also got to work on the mini hill around the base of the holly tree – a really tricky area as not only is it very steep but it is under the holly tree so does not get that much rain and only late afternoon sun. I started with epimediums but when I realised how big they could grow was rather glad that the heat wave was too much for them. Instead I raided Matthew’s garden in Belsize park for wild strawberries which seem to grow anywhere and be all but indestructible. I added a few Rozanne geraniums – reputedly equally indestructible – and some more bulbs round the base. We shall see!
Meanwhile, the summer heatwave had arrived. Not the greatest idea for a lot of new plants but with daily hand watering (probably necessary even if we had not had a hose pipe ban) I think most of them survived – although several got their leaves and blossoms seriously scorched. This was the poor Lark Ascending rose.
I had worked very hard over the preceding six months to remove the dandelions, green alkanet, bindweed, creeping buttercups and what I thought was couch grass from the lawn or grass area of the garden – and had prided myself on doing a pretty good job, By the time that the drought hit we were totally weed free – although we did looked like a desert.
How wrong I was! Not as far as the dandelions, alkanet and buttercups were concerned – but certainly as far as the grass. By November (see the image below) two thirds of the garden had grassed itself over again with no help from me at all. At which point I decided that if I couldn’t beat it I should join it and filled in the bald patches with some vigourous ‘tuff grass’ seeds, all of which were still indeed growing vigorously when the snows struck.
But for now we had a rather large patch of baked earth.
In a moment of late night madness I had orderd three raspberry canes – which I really didn’t have anywhere to put and, much though I love raspberries, had really not planned into the garden. So I bought a very large pot and plonked them into the pot and the pot in the middle of the lawn area. A ‘feature’?….
In fact, I had already been forced to create another ‘feature’ because there is a piece of metal (something inexplicable to do with the consturction of the back of the house) which was never cut quite short enough so stands about 2 inches proud of the ground on one side of the lawn area. Not large enough to see but quite large enough to trip over – as I had done more times than I could count. Since it was at least partially in the shade of the apple tree my solution was to surround it with my various pots of fuschias – flowers that I love dearly but for which the rest of the garden was really too hot. So two features…
By this time it was July and our first Salon Music concert with the Korros Ensemble. We , I am glad to say, were all ready and, with the help of some temporary lighting, were able to decamp to the garden for supper. (For more on the evening see this post on the Salon Music blog.)
I had stupidly originally bought six large pieces of trellis to block me from my left hand neighbour – but then realised that they were totally unsuitable and I needed proper fencing. And… I had several enormous pieces of mirror that somehow the plumber had managed to extract from the upstairs bathrooms without breaking. How about combining the two on the now rather stark back wall and allowing some climbers to grow up and round them….
By now the rains had returned – and the grass that I thought I had banished was sprouting vigorously towards the back of the lawn area. So I put in some serious hours raking, trying to get the area nearer the house which had been worst mangled by the builders, relatively flat and stone free. Then I used the last of the grey stones to make a ‘landing space’ at the bottom of the steps down from the house and did some serious sprinkling of ‘tuff grass’ seeds – you can see them already starting to sprout. I also invested in ten bags of best bark from Thompsons of Crews Hill and liberally covered the patio bank with it in the hopes of delaying the weeds until the shrubs had had a chance to spread a bit.
The relatively mild and wet weather that persisted through much of November was perfect for my grass and by the time that the frosts came a few weeks ago nearly the whole area ws quite grassed over.
Now as things are starting to melt, everything is looking pretty sad. How much I will have lost remains to be seen. So far only one fern looks terminal but it is obviously, far too early to say. And, anyhow with its proper lighting, it did look rather magical in the snow.