Saturday, 3 June 2017

gardening at the wood's edge

Finally I have got around to planting out the four Harvington hellebores I bought at the Chatto gardens in early February.  It was never meant to take so long, but every time I thought I was going to spend a couple of days weeding along the side of the wood and clear a space for them I ended up doing something else instead.  The Strulch needed spreading in the back garden, or it was time to sow seeds, or seedlings needed pricking out, or non gardening activities intruded into time that I'd earmarked for gardening.

One advantage of leaving it this long is that the remaining bits of bramble root have had time to send up fresh shoots, meaning that I can see where they are and have another go at digging them out.  I'll be chiseling out tiny shoots of bramble for years, as I do in the back garden, but it would have been a shame to have planted the hellebores and then find a large bramble root ran under them.  Likewise there are a few fresh shoots of Gardeners' Garters, which told me where I should dig to extract the last bits of root before planting anything.  Gardeners' Garters does not appear to regenerate readily from fragments of root, which is a relief, not like couch grass and its ilk.

One intractable set of roots ran right under a large clump of primroses which I had to lift in order to get them out properly.  That was fine since I was intending the split some of the clumps and spread them around, and after flowering is the textbook time to do it.  There have been several torrential downpours in the past couple of weeks and the top few inches of soil are now nicely wet, so conditions are on my side for once.  The large clump broke down into half a dozen decent sized pieces, and I was careful to pick their roots clean of any last, fat pieces of Gardeners' Garter roots before replanting them, leaves chopped off to save them from losing moisture while they reestablish.

I planted out the first tray of sad little Teucrium hircanum 'Purple Tails', while wondering if they will come to anything.  They were ready to go out last summer, only the site was nowhere ready to receive them, and have really not liked spending the past year in pots.

The small and lopsided Styrax japonica is in flower, little white bells dangling.  It has led a hard life, being overrun by brambles each time we lose control of that area, and an oak tree that fell over but continues to grow lying on its side.  Once a large section of its crown died, shaded out, and it has developed with a very crooked trunk as it attempted to escape from the embrace of the oak.  Poor little tree.  I shall have to tell myself that its winding stem gives it character.  It is certainly testament to a powerful will to live.

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