With 4 nights at my Mum’s and two days travelling, quickly followed by a day on polling duty at the recent elections, I am conscious that the clock is well and truly ticking and the number of days until the garden opens gets shorter and shorter. Having deliberately waited till we were back from our travels to begin serious planting out this has been my priority this week and – along with watering to make up for the transition from dry April to an equally dry start for May. It is still possible for us to get frosts this month, of course, but as more seedlings are being potted on, more shelf space is needed in the greenhouse to accommodate them, and at least there is fleece to hand if any frosts are forecast.
It is good to see the cutting beds start to fill up, although it will be a good few weeks before anything in them available for cutting. So far sunflowers, cosmos, larkspur, calendula, alonsoa, aster, godetia and seed-sown dahlias have been planted out here, although the cosmos that Monty Don planted out on Gardeners’ World last night are far taller and sturdier plants than mine! The sweet peas were planted out in mid April and have responded well to being pinched out. Overwintered dahlias have also been planted, some in very big pots to provide space for more in the borders; they were all started off in smaller pots before the end of February, thus rewarding me with earlier growth and hopefully making up for last year’s delayed flowering.
Some seedlings have also been planted in the borders elsewhere, although with the season’s luscious growth it is a wonder anything else can be squeezed in! A reassessment and overhaul will be the order of the day in the autumn, with plants having to have worked hard to earn their ‘keep’. Most gaps remaining are ‘front of border’, despite the emphasis on low growing plants amongst recent plant purchases. Here are just two of the borders, with tulips now side by side with emerging allium, billowing aquilegia and rapid growth of several plants that have sulked for the last year or two:
Carrying a notebook and pencil with me on my rambles is becoming a necessity, as new tasks spotted as I walk round are often replaced by others before I get back to the house and there are so many of them, even without the upcoming openings, that none has any real priority over another, other than watering and and creating space in the greenhouse. I had hoped to get the manger baskets planted up today to give them a chance to settle before they were rehung, but the pleasure of treating the baskets to brand new liners was tempered by realising the replacements were too small…grrr…so they have to wait. However, the new window boxes adorning the sitooterie were filled and planted with different scented leaved pelargonium, having last year begun to appreciate the subtle pleasure of scented foliage in the garden. When Dorris and I met up at Broughton Grange Garden last Sepetember we were both taken with large pots of scented pelargonium, triggering their introduction here. Mine were bought as plug plants from Fibrex Nurseries who grow a large range of varieties and hopefully they will bush out as quickly as other pelargonium do.
Lacking a prioritised list, on a whim I also took hand shears to the streamside grass today, with the intention of giving its wayward locks a preliminary hair cut; once the first tuft was removed, it became clear that the ‘Tête á Tête’ foliage amongst it probably still needed a couple of weeks to recuperate so the area had a selective chop instead. Definitely a Bad Hair Day!
With the recent sunshine the rhododendrons in the woodland edge border have rapidly opened their buds, contributing a range of pinks to the patchwork pieces of the border, a border that never fails to delight whatever the time of year:
The rhododendrons will be well and truly over before the garden opens, and the vagaries of the UK weather are such that it would be foolish to assume anything about what will or will not be flowering towards the end of June. Planting, tidying, weeding, sweeping, cake baking and the like are all within my control and despite that awareness of the clock ticking and there being less than 7 weeks till the first opening I am confident that it will all be done in time. Rambling Rector, however, despite June flowering ostensibly being a dead cert, is already covered in his usual mass of buds and will almost certainly now miss the party …