A little light trimming?
Cordylines and Astelia
The Great Mid-Winter Clean-Up continues. Now I need to sort out Middle Garden - the paths, the Phormiums and Gunnera by the water, the trees and shrubs. A bit of shaping, a little light trimming... Yes? No! Scribbling into the gardening notebook late last night, getting into a bit of a panic...
'There's at least one day's heavy labour to tidy up the giant Gunnera (note the word 'giant') - scratchy stalks and leaves meed to be cut down, then stashed in piles underneath the hedge to dry out. The Phormiums, whose dead leaves outnumber the living, need a complete clean-up. Another day's work.'
The scribbling continues : 'A tree planted by the water's edge has grown too big. Somehow Non-Gardening Partner will need convincing that it needs chain-sawing down. Chopping up the branches and stacking the logs will take an afternoon. And then there's the Golden Hop. Aargh!'
Just two more paragraphs to go : 'The Golden Hop's original climbing frame, a huge tree stump, has almost rotted away. Over the last ten years GH has morphed into a bloody-minded, tenacious ground cover. Would it be completely naive to try and dig it all out? Another day (maybe more), spent applying sturdy horizontal spade strokes. The shoulders! I could promise nicely to save a few choice rooted pieces, put them in pots, let them loose somewhere else...'
'Weeding! Another aargh! Yet again, hundreds of gorse and broom seedlings from the original hedges are sprouting merrily. Some are nearly up to my chin. This is soooooooo unfair.' Scribbling gardener drops notebook and sobs quietly into empty wine glass.
Saturday 18th June
So that was last night, emotionally late, fuelled by merlot. This morning I am much more level-headed. So here's my cold light-of-day approach. I examine the features of Middle Garden, one by one. Do I like them? If so, then I sort them out and clean them up. If I don't like them, or they are just not suitable for this area, then out they come. This applies to everything big and small, including the paths, the Salvias, the trees, the self-seeded Lupins - and the Golden Hop.
Middle Path by Water
Then I look at Middle Garden's biggest asset. It borders the water race. So the waterside plantings should be sparkling, dramatic, eye-catching - and visible. Ha! Right. In between a morning singing rehearsal and madrigals later this afternoon I'll make a sure, measured start to this. What was that about music soothing the fevered brow?
Session One : Two and a Half Hours
A modest start. I've cleaned up the first patch of Gunnera and the attendant Phormium tenaxes. They look so beautiful now, so they can stay. But I'm definitely digging out clumps of ferns that get in my way. They are taking over the water race banks. And I have a groovy plan - decent waterside access! So tomorrow I'm widening the sort-of-path, edging it with stones, and covering it with shredded bark mulch.
I'm happy and tired, and it's time to retire to the cottage for some heroic bed-adventuring. I am climbing the South West face of Everest with Chris Bonnington, a famous British mountaineer. What would I do without books? I wouldn't go anywhere interesting, or do anything exciting, hee hee.
Middle Garden Cordylines
Sunday 19th June
A couple of things before I start the morning's work. Warning! Nuisance Plant Alert! Yesterday I spied lots of coarse green Carex seedlings. They have two choices - a pot, or the bonfire. And regarding the chain-sawing : Non-Gardening Partner grunted as I pointed skywards to the rather large Pittosporum. 'What's wrong with that tree?' he asked. I found my sweetest voice. 'It's too big for my garden design...' He laughed out loud. Hmm...
Much, Much Later...
Wow. What an amazing day. My goodness I have worked well. And I've totally stuck to my plan. Brilliant! The new waterside path - widened and joined up to the existing path. Part of this older path decommissioned - now the Corokia and the Phormium tricolor can get as bulky as they like, without me trying to swish through them. Also the self-sown Lupins can stay.
NGP chopped down the tree. I spent much of the afternoon carting out logs and lopping off branches. I made a start digging out broom trees and yet more bulky ferns. The bonfire was a bit niggly, but this was a good excuse to tidy up the Cordylines. Their dead leaves are nature's perfect fire-starters. I notice two more Cordylines which are cute and chin-high, obviously seedlings of the big forked one. What I didn't notice - their formative years. Oops. This garden has been neglected.
Yeay for bed! Last night I made it to Base Camp, then fell asleep. As one does. Tonight - maybe even Camp Four! I might need oxygen...
Monday 20th June
Dear Moosey, Head Gardener. Congratulations on losing a reasonable amount of weight in a well-regulated fashion. Sincerely yours, your hips and knees. Even my madrigals group made an encouraging comment. Madrigallers are not normally known for noticing such things, hee hee. I can now fit into my flowery jeans, and I think they look superb. NGP is not so sure.
+10Dear Minimus, cottage cat, AKA Silverpaws Who Hunts By Moonlight. I closed the cottage window last night after being presented with the second wriggling mouse. That meant that you were either 'in' or 'out'. 'In and out' was not an option, nor was crying to be 'in' when 'out' and/or 'out' when 'in'. Comprende?
So what's today's plan? I just keep on tidying and refining my new Middle Garden design.
Three Hours Later...
All I did today was to remove the hugest clump of ferns by the side of Middle Bridge. It took ages and ages, and the dogs thought it was great fun running off with muddy pieces of greenery. Eventually I had to get in the water to heave out the last clumps of muddy roots, so while there I did a final trim of the Phormiums and the ferns and Carex grasses on the house-side of the water. So cold - in no time the toes and legs were going numb. Anyway, the muddy mess is all dumped underneath the Leyland hedge, and the water race is now wider, the wooden bridge more visible. It looks great!
Just before my cold-water immersion I did a quick wander with the camera and found quite a few winter flowering roses. Yippee! Real colour! Not that I don't love the greens, gingers, and browns of winter. But the brave little roses impress me so much.