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Sunday, 7 April 2019

Bit of a catch up, garden progress

I have loved gardening as long as I can remember - planting, tending, nurturing, growing, it all seems so natural and right.  I also love the garden I have created at Bag End.  When we came here I joked it was the "garden I have waited all my life for" and that has surprisingly turned out to be true.

But much as I love all this horticultural nonsense I do not want to have to spend every waking moment tending to it.  Which is where thick, thick mulches come in.  Aside from the compost bins, mulch is probably one of my most favourite things in the garden.  Yes, I love the ponds, the shrubs, the outstanding perennials which come up year after year in the Coppice, and all the wildlife which have made Bag End their home thanks to the all-you-can eat restaurant.  But compost and mulch are what make everything else work - they feed the soil, they protect it from too much wind, rain and sun, they improve the soil quality.  It does not matter how fancy your hard landscaping is, or how much you've spent on the latest trendy plants, if your soil is not in good shape then nothing will thrive.

But the other magic of mulch is that it reduces weeding and general maintenance to a couple of sessions each year with only cursory "drive-by weeding" required the rest of the time.  Drive-by weeding is defined as noticing something whilst you're walking around, pulling it out there and then and you're done, that's really easy, nice gardening.  There is a down-side, not only does a thick mulch suppress weed seeds, but it will also prevent other seeds germinating so you miss out on self-seeded goodness.  Although that does not seem to have stopped the aquilegia which seems to be growing all over the place😊

We were blessed with an unusually bright and dry February and I got through more than half the garden, and I will be eternally grateful that Daisy's last month allowed lots of open doors and the freedom to demand I stop and play, or wander around at will and stop to sniff the air, and close our eyes against the unexpected sunlight.







I still miss her so much, the massive hole she has left in our lives is paralysing at times.



Whilst Daisy enjoyed the fresh air, I enjoyed being outside and walking past the "little" Magnolia Stellata which is the best it has ever been.  Rescued from the "I'm virtually dead but some sucker will probably pay half-price for the pot" shelf at Aldi, this shrub is now nearly 6 feet tall and really beautiful.  It is a swine to photograph though.





March was sh*te; grief and grotty weather do not lend themselves to pottering around outside, so after thinking I was getting ahead of the year, I am now well and truly behind.  Situation normal then.

Last weekend I set out to weed the net-house ready for a new season of trying to grow veg.  As usual, came upon a series of Bag End's typical dependencies:



*  I've got four small artichoke plants which have survived slugs and winter, and I want to move them to a bed outside the net-house.

*  But that bed needs the soil level topping up

*  The soil for topping up is in another bed, but there are also some Himalayan Primula over-wintering here which need moving.

*  So I guess I'll move them, but whilst I am doing that I should take all the others which are in pots and might as well put them in the bed we made next to the Big Pond last October.  Which is how I spend half the day next to the pond when I thought I was going to be in the net-house . . .







So that was the Sunday morning taken care of, moving plants, moving barrowloads of soil.  Rather lovely to have it all done though.   After lunch, I still hadn't moved any soil around the vegetable area so Management offered to come and help.  Dear boy, got a little carried away and decided if we were going to do this job, we'd do it completely . . .



He put soil in a big tub, I moved it, "rinse & repeat" umpteen times.  But we've now got beds which are beautifully topped up although the soil does need to settle a while, and whilst I did manage some weeding in the net-house, the artichoke plants are still exactly where they started.

Note emergency fence post as brace - in the last high wind the middle section of trellis really, really wanted to relocate itself.



So that was last weekend, and since then there have been a few more garden days.  Mostly involving bark chip as mulch, lots of mulch.  In the Cottage Garden there has been lots of this:





Which now looks a lot tidier, although it's not completely finished.







The cold frames area had got itself into a considerable mess over winter, which is fairly normal, now has had a big Spring tidy-up.  Pats self on back, can I keep it like this?







All the lawns have had their first cut, it was a lot simpler with two sections now covered in bark chip.   It surprises me when I look across the garden and see it looking lovely - I am so used to the years of construction and soil heaps that tidy and organised still catches me unawares.









20 comments:

  1. It looks absolutley beautiful Jayne. All your hard work really paid off. I expect when you're working outdoors you expect to see your darling girl whenever you turn around. It makes me smile to know she spent so many wonderful days enjoying the sunshine in your lovely garden. X

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    1. That is exactly it Jules. I expect to stop to talk to her, take her for a walk, just see how she's doing.

      But thanks for the nice words about the garden.

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  2. I like your "drive by" weeding phrase - I'm a big fan of this type of weeding. I can't grow aquilegia in our soil - shame as they're a pretty flower. What we do get hundreds of (self seeded) are foxgloves and forget-me-nots, the latter of which are currently taking over!!
    Beautiful photos of your garden and obviously Daisy.

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    1. Nothing wrong with foxgloves and forget-me-nots. At least with FMN it is so shallow-rooted that it is easy to pull up after flowering.

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  3. What a lovey yard, and so green already! I want wine or coffee out there.

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    1. Well my dear, if you've come this far it is only right you should sit a while, so coffee in the morning and wine in the evening?

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  4. The garden in the last two photos looks gorgeous, I wish mine looked like that but I don't have a lawn, I have grass :)

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    1. You probably won't believe me, but your "grass", if cut regularly, fed, weeded and generally looked after would, in a couple of years, be a lovely 'normal' lawn.

      When we were first here the grass was regularly left for months at a time and at one point looked like a badly chewed up field. But regular cutting has brought it back . . . although (as you will soon see for yourself) it only looks good in photos. In real life it's full of moss, clover and all sorts of things which purists would pour poison on. Which will not happen here :-)

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    2. Believe me Jayne, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will turn my grass into a lawn. Over the years the front has been re-turfed twice and re-seeded more than once but it still looks rougher than a bear's backside. The back was totally trashed last summer by the digger-happy guy working for the HA 'improving' the estate, I now have lots of peculiar things springing up all over but no proper grass - on the up side however, with new fencing all round I can now let the dogs run free with no possibility of them managing to escape :)

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    3. In that case you've got c**p underneath instead of decent soil, so you're right. But as long as the dogs are safe, and there's nothing poisonous to them coming up, do something you enjoy :-)

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  5. OOH, what else can I say. So much done over the weekend and all looking so gorgeous. Can't wait to come & see it.......... Love the photos you plucked from your archives of Daisy & know how you much you miss her. Thanks for the catchup of the garden, have a great week & take care.

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    1. Thank you Susan. All those Daisy photos were taken in February, so not that far back in the archive. Hope the garden still looks OK when you get here. xx

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  6. It is lovely.... A lot of work! But it is lovely....

    Glad you are finding ways to get closer to normal, again. All this outside work, which needs to be done, is wonderful.

    Hugs...

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    1. Thank you Wisp, it's a different 'normal', life can never go back to how it was though.

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  7. Aww beautiful Daisy she'll never be forgotten, she enjoyed being outside in your garden as much as you do. Your garden looks lovely Jayne, all your had work has paid off and is more manageable for you now. Let's hope for some more sunshine so you can sit outside relax and enjoy.

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    1. Thanks Eileen, yes Daisy did seem to enjoy the garden, and we were always glad to have such a safe space for her to wander around in.

      Have been trying to find some comfortable garden furniture so I actually ~can~ sit around . . . no success yet.

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  8. Your garden is a lot further on than ours, we did mow the lawn this weekend and the soil looks less bare as the perennials start to push through - but it is still a sleepy garden :D

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    1. Do I recall you saying your garden is heavily shaded? We are fortunate in that when the sun does shine, we get a fair bit of it everywhere except the Coppice.

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  9. Dear Jayne
    It is looking lovely. I usually find that I start with one job in mind but then I see something else which needs doing and off I go to do that, even though I hadn't necessarily intended to! (My garden is very small, but I still find lots that needs doing...)
    Enjoy your gardening time, despite not having your lovely Daisy to keep you company.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Ah yes, distraction gardening . . . I have a lot of that!

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