Tuesday, 25 October 2016

clearing and planting

I am trying to plant out as many of my seed and cutting raised hardy plants as possible while the soil is still warm.  There's nothing to be done about the ones destined for the meadow, not until I have had another go at the brambles and nettles.  That's a pity, since there are some nice young North American golden rod that are just ready to go out, and plants only deteriorate sitting in pots. Help, however, is in sight at least for the moment in the form of the Systems Administrator, who showed a sudden, unbidden and unexpected interest in the problem and after voluntarily clearing the whole of an enormous lump of ivy clad dead ash tree that fell out of the wood earlier this year, is planning to have a go at the brambles.

The gigantic lump, more ivy than ash, was one of those things that makes you feel discouraged. Just as I'd got rid of a lot of the brambles near the wildlife pond, including some of the evil white stemmed Rubus cockburnianus which I should never have planted, the lump fell and I was more or less back where I started in terms of stuff needing clearing.  Alas, the bare, brown and very dead remains of what was once a small holly bush were uncovered as the SA cleared the site.  The SA worked out it must once have been something because it had a rabbit guard on it, and kept it to show me.  Something about its lines and the way it held its dead twigs told me it had been a holly. I'm afraid it was the yellow berried one that used to live somewhere up there.

The SA had carefully worked around another young tree, still living, but I'm not sure if we want to keep it or not as it was a seedling evergreen oak, and unless topiarised it will grow huge and cast a lot of shade.  The nearest holm oaks are across two fields from us but they keep coming up in the garden courtesy of the jays (or at least I assume they are responsible.  At least one study has shown that jays that think another bird is looking at them will not merely refrain from going to their food caches but try to spoof the onlooker by deliberately looking in the wrong place.  A bird with a theory of mind?).

I pointed out another small tree which I was pretty sure was a hop hornbeam and not a self sown hazel, though it was difficult to get close enough to make sure, and a Styrax japonica, both of which were to be saved, and checked the SA was happy with the difference between brambles and species roses.  I have never badgered the SA to help with the meadow, since it purely an object of amusement and adornment.  Unseen from the house and not affecting access for any kind of service vehicle or delivery, it isn't something that has to be done unless somebody wants to do it.  But if the SA has developed a new found enthusiasm for bramble bashing that is great by me.

At the other end of the gardening spectrum I dibbled little nine centimetre and one litre rootballs into the borders in the back garden, Verbena bonariensis, pink Linaria 'Canon Went' and a white hybrid of Verbascum phoeniceum, all the while running the hose on the bog bed which is still very dry in places.  I'm hoping they'll make some root growth before it gets too chilly, and planting them now means I can see how tall and how densely their neighbours grow.  It can be tempting in the spring to slip a new plant into what looks like a gap, only for it to be totally overshadowed as the established occupants of the border get off to a quicker start than it is able to do and shade it out. Yesterday I replanted a pale yellow alstroemeria that almost suffered such a fate last spring, before I rescued and re-potted it.

There are still some seed raised aquilegia to go in, and more verbena, and some bright red Lychnis chalcedonica, plus the geums and Selinum I bought.  It will still leave me with quite a stash of pots waiting their chance to go out into the soil, just as soon as we can clear the room for them.  I am looking forward to a bit of bramble bashing myself.

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