Sunday, 22 May 2016

spring surge

The promised rain did not materialise, meaning that fairly soon I am going to have to get the hose out and water the railway garden.  Instead it is grey, heavy and humid, with an odd damp chill in the air like the onset of sea fog, except that it is too early in the year and not hot enough for sea fog.  It has given the Systems Administrator a headache.

The garden is in full growth now.  As Stephen Lacey writes in one of his books, he aims for there to be no bare soil in his borders by June unless something has died.  Ours are getting to the point where I can see where the gaps are.  I am cautious about bothering to plant some of them until the rabbit situation is under control, but after watching the kittens rampaging about the study today I think that problem is in hand.

Unfortunately with the surge in spring growth come the shoots of horsetail.  The edges need trimming as well, but I am leaving both of them until after Chelsea to conserve my energies. Ignore any garden articles telling you that you can get rid of horsetail by covering it with black plastic for a year.  You can't, but equally it isn't a reason to move house the moment you discover it.  It is not a strongly competitive plant, and the leaves don't make an appearance until May so you can enjoy early displays of small bulbs and suchlike undisturbed.  The trick after that is to cram your borders with leafy and not too low growing stuff, which will hide that year's regrowth once you've pulled the top of the horsetail off once or twice.  It is a nuisance, but not the end of gardening as we know it.

Poor old late flowering Selinum wallichianum is being overshadowed by the various Thalictrum, which flower much earlier and come into growth correspondingly sooner in the year.  The Selinum is a member of the carrot family.  I first saw it in full bloom in September at Trentham outside Stoke-on-Trent, covered in insects, and luckily found a gardener who could tell me what it was.  In great enthusiasm I bought one from Beth Chatto, and then two more, and slotted them into gaps in the front of the bog bed, but I hadn't thought about when in the year it would do its growing.  As it is the Thalictrum gets a head start, and the Selinum is left with no air space.  There is now a gap left when I cleared out the old remains of a rampant iris that was ever moving on to pastures new, so I could get a couple more Selinum to go in the space.  And perhaps I should try cutting down the Thalictrum as soon as it has finished flowering.  It doesn't make a particularly attractive or durable winter skeleton, but I don't know if it would respond to an early post flowering chop by making some nice new basal leaves, like Alchemilla mollis or many of the hardy geraniums do.  There is an easy way to find out.

The rabbits have been eating my asters, despite my most recent efforts with Grazers.  I am cross, but I look at the athletic kitten asleep on the window sill and console myself that they are going to have another think coming, very soon.

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