Other things have got in the way of a third part of this critical review of the garden – including new projects, which always seem to take precedence over ongoing maintenance – and, instead of there being just one final part, the Fig and the Hostas now demand a post to themselves. On this occasion, the critical view and new projects have become inextricably intertwined.
All of my hostas are in pots, but the perennial problem of slug control has increasingly made me aware that invariably those that suffered least (and often minimal) damage from slugs and snails were those not located next to other foliage. Might the answer be to ensure none of the pots were next to beds and borders where those pesky molluscs could be hiding and waiting to pounce? A number of them are the side of the house, close to the back door and against a retaining wall at the base of the mature hedge that borders one of our boundaries. You wouldn’t think that slugs and snails would be happy under a prickly holly hedge where the soil must be very dry, but they must have found something that they liked as some of the hostas here were eagerly devoured very early on the season – particularly my collection of miniature varieties. Of course it would take a slug less time to devour a miniature hosta leaf than it would something like H ‘Sum and Substance’ or ‘Big Daddy’, and most of them were quickly reduced to stumps.
A decision was quickly made, combining two solutions which were easily and fairly quickly carried out: dismantling the raised platforms that displayed the miniatures and moving the collection to the other side of the house, close to the ‘shady courtyard’ (see map under ‘The Garden’ tab above), and simply moving the larger hostas to the other side of the house, against the wall of the house. The latter involved moving the bird feeders, currently hanging under the guttering outside the kitchen window, to a new support next to the hedge but still visible from the window.
Between the hostas and the gate is The Fig, planted around 16 years ago in a large pot partially sunk into the ground against the house, where it has thrived. Some years we have a large number of ripe figs from it and sometimes we don’t, but I have to confess that although an avid devourer of dried figs I am not very keen on the fresh variety. The tree itself has all but outgrown its location and must surely have burst out of its pot many years ago, in which case what might the roots be doing to the house?
I do like the green and shady effect of the fig, and it is much admired by visitors on our open days, who enter the garden underneath its canopy. They will be surprised and perhaps initially disappointed next year, however, as the fig is gone… We, though, have already had our own surprise:
It still beggars belief that this large and relatively productive fig could have survived all those years in such a confined space. We all know that figs need their roots retained to encourage cropping, but we would perhaps have expected a fig of this size to require something rather larger than this pot, which is no more than a 12″ cube. Yet another of Nature’s miracles, I guess – and we have a survivor of the miracle, a useful and intact pot.
We also have a useful space and not surprisingly I envisage another project…