Wednesday, 24 April 2013

feed and mulch

A boot load of spent mushroom compost doesn't last long.  I bought another eight bags this morning, and by the evening had only got three left.  The race is well and truly on to get as many beds mulched as possible, before the emerging foliage is so advanced that I can't get at the ground, and cause damage trying.  The Strulch, which has been stacked up outside since I don't have anywhere under cover to store it, has gone rather blue and mouldy in its bags, but I expect that will wear off once it is in the sunlight and the fresh air.  Just so long as it doesn't give me farmer's lung, I'm happy.

The entrance bed has got a large and spreading patch of Euphorbia cyparissus.  I am in two minds about this plant, which is in many ways a terrifying weed.  But as the Missouri Botanical Garden website states, it tolerates dry soil, shallow rocky soil and drought.  In the entrance bed it shrugs off the effects of the meagre sand and root competition from surrounding shrubs to make ground cover that is really quite pretty in season.  Forget the botanic garden's suggested planting density of eight to ten plants to the square yard.  I didn't buy more than three pots to get my enormous patch.  It runs ferociously at the root, but I haven't found seedlings elsewhere in the garden.  It is surrounded on one side by tarmac, on the second side by the hedge between us and the lettuce field, and on the third side by gravel.  If it ever runs through the ivy hedge and tries to set off across the gravel I shall have to resort to strong poison, but in the meantime I am on balance grateful for the ground cover it provides.

I cut away its dead stems earlier in the spring, and gave the area a preliminary weed, so now need to get it fed and Strulched before the Euphorbia shoots grow too much.  I worried briefly that I would injure them sprinkling mushroom compost around them and covering them with mineralised straw, while trampling on them.  Then I thought that if I had wanted to get rid of the Euphorbia I would not expect manure plus straw mulch to be any use at all.  There are some roots of a creeping grass among the Euphorbia, and while I pulled up what I could, I shall need to return on calm, dry days with the glyphosate.

I had to move some of the daffodils I planted in the long bed, not the pale coloured ones I planted in a dither while it was blowing a gale, but the cheerful two-tone orange and yellow 'Jetfire' that went in several weeks ago.  When they were the only things flowering in that part of the bed they looked very cheerful and I was pleased to see them there, but when the existing inhabitants came into flower before 'Jetfire' had finished I realised that orange and yellow Narcissus do not go with pink cherry blossom, or red Pulsatilla, and don't do a lot for a collection of hyacinths in harmonising shades of blue and purple.  The pale yellow daffodils are fine, but the strong yellow and orange quarrels with everything else in the bed.  I couldn't think what to do with the 'Jetfire', or the other pots of yellow daffodils waiting to be planted, then realised I could use them along the front edge of the entrance bed.  A splash of yellow as you arrive would be very cheery, and as the front of the bed is largely clear at the moment they would be easy to plant.  I peered suspiciously at the existing planting, trying to work out if there was anything likely to overlap with the daffodils and clash with them in a normal season, but none of the shrubs looked at all close to flowering.  Strong yellow and Malus floribunda are a pretty vile combination.  I know that since absent mindedly planting some yellow Crown Imperial fritillaries underneath my tree.

The Systems Administrator is letting the hens out for an evening run, now that the weather's warmer, though they won't be coming out tomorrow because we're going out, and then it's due to turn colder again, so today may be their last taste of freedom for a few days.  Looking at the mess they have made scratching around by the bog garden I am slightly relieved about that, much as they enjoy free-ranging.  They have heapeded the Strulch into great piles and kicked some on to the lawn, while a poor little decapitated flower of Fritillaria meleagris lay folorn on the ground.

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