So seldom do "strangers" come into the garden that I am always surprised by their responses. Today a neighbour's son was trying to help prop up a leaning fence post and popped round for my sledge hammer. Just beyond the greenhouse he announced he wasn't going any further (and I can't blame him with Rosa Canary Bird still doing its thing right across the path so you have to contort yourself around it) before then asking if they film "I'm a celebrity...." here as it is just like a jungle! I don't seem to be able to convey this in my pictures but then if I did, no-one would see anything much!
Today was a brilliant gardening day - a whole bank holiday of it - and I managed to get most things reasonably under control. Main objectives were a general tidy-up, trim and tie-back of perennials, dig out some of the mass of Lily of the Valley and dig up the tulip bulbs (I know, terrible but I just don't have space to let them die back) and seek out the dahlias which have overwintered and give them some light and slug-deterrent support. While removing the tulip foliage I found plenty of slugs and snails although the worst damage they do is to a large clump of white bearded irises growing behind the greenhouse. Just as whole stems of buds are about to open they are gobbled right through. Happily this has not happened to the ones nearer the house which stand out so serenely against the deep blue ceanothus.
Another plant which sits well with it is Clematis "Royal Velour" whose first lush bloom appeared this week.
The fruit area seems to be flourishing. In spite of the influx of Lily of the Valley and a mass of self-set foxgloves my blackcurrant bush has about four times more flowers than ever before, there are plenty of strawberries and the gooseberry bush is laden. I love to have an area where I can let the foxgloves do their own thing. They are one of the easiest and most successful biennials to transplant and so valuably fill a boring gap in dull shade.
I have despatched well over a dozed lily beetles this year and decided to pull up any non-flowering bulbs as they seem a great attraction, although I also found an orange-menace on an allium today. So far the later-flowering Lilium Formosanum cultivars seem to be fairly immune to lily beetles.
With regard to larger wildlife, a squirrel very nearly ran straight into me the yesterday morning - not expecting me to be there! But the bird population seems quite different this year. I have frequently seen a magpie passing through the garden and flocks of jackdaws flying about with their loud laughing and chuckling cries. There are the parakeets, red kites and I even saw a heron fly over today but other than robins and blackbirds and a few more sparrows than in recent years the smaller finches and tits seem to have all but vanished - my nesting box remains empty!
Enough rambling. Here are three first roses: Iceberg, extraordinarily formed almost like an old-fashioned noisette rose, Pat Austen and Warm Welcome, both well-complimented by the wisteria.
Small Garden Story
Over some 15 + years, I have been photographing the evolution of my small (85 x 15 foot) garden and it seems a waste not to put these records into some sort of context. Beginning here in April 2010 this Blog is intended to both act as a diary and to share past and present successes (and some failures), pleasures and disappointments with fellow garden-lovers. In due course, I intend to fill in some of the background and early days but that will have to wait until the winter months!