Winter: now here

The first frost of the year; it seems like winter is here. On the plus side, annual weeds have flopped into mush. The last leaves are falling, revealing the underlying structure of trees. Days are short, the darkness longer every night. The best place is fireside. When morning comes the frosted garden is worth getting cold for. These sedums hold the frost well.IMG_1140The last of the medlars, bletted, now frozen, soon to return to earth.IMG_1138The long borders are being shaped by the frost.IMG_1154Leonotis seedbeds will persist through the harshest winter weather.IMG_1150Gunnera is not nearly as resilient.IMG_1163The weekend brought more rain which made for slightly warmer soil, so I planted some bareroot trees and shrubs: 10 each of guelder rose, wayfaring tree, bird cherry, hornbeam and spindle. That brings the total to 96 planted so far this season, with another 240 to go. The new woodland is starting to take shape..

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July

A seemingly endless progression of sunny hot days – quite unusual: very dry and very warm. The flocks of house sparrows are up at dawn, later to sleep at 7:00pm precisely. After that the quiet is only broken by blackbirds, the occasional overhead flight or train, and the very distant sound of the A-road.

Photography light in July is best in the evenings when it sinks behind trees and lights up the borders from the side. These are Crocosmia and Persicaria.IMG_0902Agastache and Deschampsia; great companions.IMG_0851Blues and silvers of Catananche caerulea.IMG_0869Golden RudbeckiaIMG_0863The giant oat grass Stipa gigantiaIMG_0892Steel blues of sea holly Eringium aplinumIMG_0843And in the white border some white Echinacea purpurea IMG_0828

July is when the season starts to change, very slightly at first. Things like Asters and Japanese anemones start to appear – not flowering yet but soon. Berries, apples and pears are ripening, the few remaining cherries are a feast for wasps and brave birds. We are very happy to see the Indian Bean tree flowering more prolifically than ever.IMG_0868

Summer heat

This summer. Days of sun, we’ve had.  It cools down rapidly at night in this part of Kent, perhaps the proximity to the coast. Mornings are generally cool and cloudy until about 11 when the sun returns. Perfect growing weather – although I’m considering the merits of a shadehouse.

The dieramas have done very well this year. I forget that they’re there until the flowers emerge and I want more of them.

IMG_0777Eremerus, the foxtail lilly – specialist in catching all of the sun.

IMG_0796Giant oat grass, agastache and gaura have taken over in this wild bed.

IMG_0792Berberis emerges from a mist of stipa.

IMG_0798A long view of the grasses bed with the stables in the background.

IMG_0769Colours: clash or compliment.

IMG_0816Catching as much sun as possible.

IMG_0812The field grass is starting to turn gold.

IMG_0805Long shadows in the evening light.

IMG_0755Morello cherries: delicious sourness.

IMG_4220More raspberries than we can eat.  Summertime; blissful abundance.

 

The last of May

May has been an excellent gardening month – mostly warm, sunny days with some decent bits of rain at night. Perfection. Nighttime temperatures had been low, but this changed over the last week. The plants responded with rampant growth and flowers. The dominant colour is now blue – oh and red, orange, purple, green, yellow..hmm.

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Salvia
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Iris
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Sage
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Anchusa
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Geum
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Lupin
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Acer

Bulb activity is continuing through into the summer with gladiolus, iris and alliums.

 

Grasses are really starting to come into their own now.

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The wall-trained cotoneaster is looking wonderful in flower – we will need somebody to come and prune it soon.

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We are enjoying the view that was revealed by removing the massive bay tree, killed by the winter cold. Thank you Kate; you speak excellent chainsaw.

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Somebody said there was a garden show on somewhere, I think I will give that a miss and hang out here instead.

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Preparing the borders: done

The many stages of border preparation are now complete. Previous stages, also complete, included:

  • removing perennial and then annual weeds
  • splitting perennials
  • moving things around (a bit)
  • mulching (a bit)
  • looking (a lot)

Final stage done today was edging. This involves a very long piece of string and some canes, a sharp edging tool and a Jamaican hoe (at least that’s what Bernadette at our old allotment used to call it). I’m not too good with straight lines but the end result seems OK.

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The sun came out in the afternoon and it really felt like spring. At last.IMG_3851 (1)

Preparing the borders: stage two

Stage two involves pulling out weeds, an essential but not massively joyful activity. Last year this took over a week, this year one (entire) day. I put this down to mulch – but also to earliness of the year; many weeds have not emerged yet. There were, however, many very huge nettles with roots that extended for metres in all directions. Quite satisfying to pull them out, even if it is with the realisation that you never quite get every last bit. The plants left behind seem to like having a little more room to spread out.

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Now the borders have been cleared I’m a bit nervous about the impact this weekend’s (forecasted) mini ice-age might have. Apparently we are due snow and minus 3 degrees for the next few days. Hopefully the border perennials will tough it out but I will move all the seedlings back into the house for the weekend.

Springwatch update: there’s blossom on the red plum at the top of the field – a reliable sign that spring is here, even if we do have a wintery weekend.

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Preparing the borders: stage one

I noticed that the long border perennials and grasses are beginning to put on some growth. This is amazing – seeing how they were covered in snow only 10 days ago. Time to commence preparing the borders. In the preparing the borders task there’s 4 stages; clearing, weeding, moving/planting and mulching. Clearing involves cutting and removing all of last year’s herbaceousness so that new growth can emerge. Last year’s clearing took more than 2 days – this year it was done in a morning.IMG_3735

Amazing what a difference good tools make; my new Felco secateurs are very good tools. Clearing isn’t over until all the clearings have been relocated to the compost heap. Last year this took a whole morning – this year it was done in about an hour. Amazing what a difference having a multi-purpose trolley makes. Very many thanks to our generous friends for the most excellent garden gifts – they make the less fun tasks a lot easier.IMG_3736