Wednesday, 12 July 2017

weeding, tidying and planning

As I remove the pebble mulch from the top of the sloping bed in the back garden, to be reused elsewhere, I am amazed at how far down into the ground they go.  Stone mulches have an astonishing ability to vanish into the earth without the height of the mulched area ever rising. The longer I garden the fewer situations I think are improved by use of a permeable membrane, but places where you plan to lay a pebble mulch might be one of them.  What you do about the edges of the membrane is another story.

Mr Fidget found the sight of somebody putting pebbles into a bucket quite fascinating, and came and watched me work.  You never know what will appeal to a cat.

Weeding is far easier after the night's rain.  We must have had a good inch, and roots that were clinging to the soil yesterday as if growing in cement are now yielding to the slightest flick of the wrist (though the fact I switched from using a hand fork to a small border fork may have something to do with that).  So far I have not found any sinister bootlaces that would lead me to suspect that the sea buckthorns died of honey fungus, but I have not yet begun to dig out the stumps.

Meanwhile my armchair gardening has moved on to bulbs for autumn planting, tulips and hyacinths for the pots, and whatever else I can afford and think I'll have time to plant in the rest of the garden.  I am rather jealous of those people featured in garden magazines who claim to have planted a handful of Crocus tommasinianus twenty years ago and to now have sheets numbering in the thousands.  I have been planting them in the bottom lawn every year since 2006, only missing out 2009 for some reason, and still don't have anything like a sheet.  I think it is because the grass is too rank and we cut it too late in the year for them to seed themselves successfully.  Perversely a few have succeeded in sowing themselves into the top lawn, where they are not wanted and I feel mean when the flowers get mown.  I expect I will diligently stick another hundred in this year, still dreaming of that elusive sheet, but what else to choose?

Can I pop a few Colchicum in among the early flowering, red pulmonaria or will the former's big spreading leaves smother the latter?  Both Peter Nyssen and Kevock are offering what purports to be Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus, the true pheasant's eye, later, smaller and altogether superior to the more commonly offered N. 'Actaea' according to Mary Keen.  Would it grow along the side of the wood?  Am I kidding myself that I will have cleared that area by next spring?  And would the elegant little lemon yellow 'W P Milner' survive?  It is a heritage variety dating from before 1869, which disappeared without trace after a season in the dry sand of the long bed.  Maybe I should do just one pot each of some varieties of scented daffodils to stand by the front door while they are out.  Decisions, decisions.  The price of bulbs has risen post Brexit.  Tulips that cost £11 for fifty bulbs last year are now £12.50.

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