Saturday, 8 April 2017

weeding and watering

Today I weeded and Strulched the bog bed and picked goosegrass seedlings out of the ditch bed, partly because it needed doing but mainly because I had to be at the bottom of the garden to keep moving the hose as I soaked them.  Sure enough, there is an article in today's Times raising the possibility of hosepipe bans, after the driest winter for twenty years.  I said the other day that things were very dry.  The Systems Administrator reports that some of the wet flushes in the wood are no longer boggy.  I am probably in a minority in being quite relieved that after tomorrow's flurry of heat next week is forecast to be significantly cooler, since with any luck the soaking will last for some time before I have to do it again.

I tried to make sure I weeded each area before watering it.  I went over the bog bed during the winter so the weeds now are mostly small and piddling, tree seedlings barely beyond the cotyledon stage, tiny rosettes of hairy bittercress, and masses of an ornamental thing that started with a packet of seed from Chiltern Seeds.  I can't remember its name, but vaguely think that it is some sort of purslane and is edible, though I'm not going to try eating it.  It has pink flowers, fleshy leaves, and seeds like billy-ho and then some.  It is quite pretty and I left some towards the edges of the bed but I didn't want it everywhere, particularly as I needed to see what tree seedlings, tiny ivies and other nuisances were hiding in it.

Anyway, the best way to weed this lot was to scratch over the surface of the dry soil with the points of a hand weeding fork and gather up the loosened weeds, and of course dry soil is much more comfortable to kneel on and you don't make great footprints in it.  Since the bog bed slopes I needed to plan operations quite carefully and get a clean weeded and mulched strip down the middle before I started watering, which was partly where the ditch bed came into it because I continued watering that while working on the other.  It meant a lot of shuttling back and forth, but was worth it to get things done in the right order.  While pulling up goosegrass at the back of the ditch bed I trod on a couple of emerging shoots of Solomon's Seal hidden in among the Pulmonaria and broke them, which was annoying.

I made sure to water yesterday's fern plantings while I was at it, to settle them in.  I've got some golden millet, Milium effusum 'Aureum' to go in that corner, raised from seed.  The leaves are delicate and airy and I hope the little dashes of yellow will give a light and ethereal effect.  Then I want some white flowered Geranium phaeum, a great doer in dry shade, but will have to buy that to get the ball rolling.  If it behaves like the blotched leaved form 'Samobor' then as long as I start off with two or three plants I should have lots in due course.

I have some Disporopsis pernyi and Maianthemum dilitatum rooting in pots in a cold frame, woodlanders bought from Pottertons as part of my winter bulbs order.  The latter can spread aggressively according to some sources, but looking at the dry and uninviting patch where I planned to put them I should be grateful if they grew at all.  Soil that is capable from morphing from ten inches of liquid mud to the dry side of normal in a couple of seasons, depending on rainfall and the level of the water table, has to be one of the most difficult areas to plant in a garden.  The Mainanthemum will tolerate boggy soil according to one US nursery, which was one reason why I thought I'd try it.

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