Our Grand Plan for the Mantle Estate last year was very simple. It was do what you can, consolidate and hide the rest. A particularly troublesome area was dominated by a huge tree peony. The monster was relocated. If my memory serves me correctly, in my capacity of official photographer and heckler, it involved huffing and puffing, planks and wheelbarrows, then broken planks and tipped wheelbarrows, followed by some words I do not care to repeat. The area was weeded, membraned and gravelled; a temporary solution when so much else needed to be controlled. It also allowed time for inspiration and guilt free planning. On this sunny platform Her Ladyship artfully arranged various pots, planters and objet trouvé, “left a bit, right a bit, fire”, which provided a summer into autumn colour-fest.
Many of these plants were over-wintered in the greenhouse, including a fine blue-trimmed enamel bath which was stuffed to the hilt with French Lavender, Lavandula stoechas. Excessive wet, rather than cold, would have been its downfall. A fortnight ago it was brought out into the big bad world, waking from its hibernation into this absurdly clement weather. It hasn’t taken long to leap headlong into life. Today it looked a picture. And the tree peony won’t be far behind. Every day I love spring more.