For various reasons, I haven’t been to Bill and Ben’s garden since the beginning of the summer. It was nice to be back. It was also lovely to see Penstemon ‘Pensham Plum Jerkum’ looking quite beautiful.
Today I found a beautiful double helianthemum, struggling to hold its plumpious blooms above a mat of persistent ivy. I cleared around it and mentally marked it down for some cuttings on my next visit.
Then I continued digging nettles and brambles and pulling out my arch nemesis, cleavers. To ensure I still had some unmarked skin at the end of the day, I was covered from head to toe and I sweltered as I cleared. For a harsh job it was strangely enjoyable.
A robin and female blackbird took turns in harvesting as I grubbed. Every so often I would throw them a worm, feeling a little guilty for its sacrifice. This wasn’t really necessary. Their pin point eyesight spotted feasts that I had no hope of locating. They zipped in and out taking their spoils to well-hidden nests to feed their hungry young.
This is the season of the striptease. Teeth grindingly chilly in the morning, warranting thick jumpers and substantial socks. By early afternoon the sun is blasting requiring a peeling of layers until decency dictates a halt.
I’m not complaining. The jolting icy air is as effective as smell salts to invigorate the sluggish gardener, the later gentle warmth carresses the muscles and boosts the batteries.
Tomorrow we have rain. I will have to depend on my reserves.
Bill and Ben’s garden was well planted, albeit several decades ago. To paraphrase Tennyson, it is “red in tooth and thorn” out there in the horticultural world. And we are talking about plants not the gardeners! Unchecked, interlopers invade, the vigorous stifle the slow-growing and the neglected grow unkept. I have been clearing an area over the last few months; bramble, couch grass, willow, Iris foetida, ivy, all fighting to be alpha weed, growing through a mat of Geranium procumbens. Oh, and a couple of roses. Spurred on by their presence this was to become a rose and wildlife garden. Today we reached a milestone. Already there are feeders and bird baths in place. Today it was planting day. More roses, including two single flowered which are easily accessible for pollinators, lavenders and penstemon.
This photo is of one of the existing roses, which after a rather late but much-needed prune and feed, has flowered well and is continuing to do so. There is hope in the wilderness.
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Ayesha’ is no one trick pony. The pretty puckered flowers would be reason enough to welcome this beauty into your garden. You could sit back and say “you have earned your place with your glorious blooms, no need for anymore effort”. But then, as a autumnal bonus, the serrated leaves blush scarlet before they fall in embarrassment at their beauty. I pointed out the red hemmed stegosaurus foliage to Ben today. “Have you seen how wonderful these leaves are? They remind me of dinosaurs”. He squinted, tried his very best and made a hurried excuse. Perhaps I should have drawn a picture.