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Trying to avoid a backlog

It is still very windy, unusually I haven’t been working in the garden for three days. One of those days was a working day but I have been kept inside more than usual partly due to very bad weather and also because I have been writing the text for a guidebook for the garden. This had to be finished in order for the guide books to be printed in time for our next public open day on Easter Monday. Although it has been very interesting, researching the history of our garden, I’m glad it’s now finished, and I can get back outside. There are lots of jobs for today, first I removed the sweet peas from the propagator, many already 3 inches tall but one variety, ‘Chatsworth’ has not appeared at all, the entire packet of seeds has failed! I phone Thompson & Morgan and they promise to send out a replacement packet. I resow some celeriac that has not come up, water everything and discover 3 auriculas which I overlooked when I was potting them up. The long-awaited dwarf walnut tree – Karlik, arrived yesterday. It had travelled from Germany and arrived in a tall box ( c 4 feet) when I opened it, it was less than a foot tall! A single grafted twig, however it does have a nice healthy bud on the end, thank goodness because it was quite expensive! Next job is to plant it in its large water tank container. I check on the stepovers, adjusting the ties fixing them to the supporting rail in case they had moved in the wind.

I then continue with my pruning, I start by finishing the long field side border and then start work on the central borders. These are 4m wide and are divided into triangular sections by a zigzag box hedge, each side is supposed to be a mirror image of the other. There are a variety of tall standing perennials to cut back and 2 self-seeded buddlejas that conveniently have situated themselves opposite each other so have been allowed to stay! I also planted 4 palms at the end of last year; which despite tying the leave in with old fish net tights (they are soft) to protect them from wind damage, are looking quite ragged. Their main leaves are brown and dead looking, so I remove the tights, cut them back and hope for the best!

I finish up at the bee enclosure – the bees are really looking well, falling over themselves to get in and out of the hive! This area was planted last year with a variety of ‘bee friendly’ cut price stock from a local nursery that was closing down. The plants were bought when they were available, but had to wait in their containers until I was ready to plant them, and obviously summer 2018 was very hot. Needless to say they were not in brilliant shape when they went in. However, everything except, puzzlingly, one spirea, has survived and they are beginning to show new growth, hooray! I cut the buddlejas back and return to the polytunnel.

It has occurred to me that the hardy annuals I planted in the Autumn could be planted out as companion planting around my onions, shallots and garlic. This way I can make more space in the polytunnel and avoid a backlog of plants building up, waiting to be planted. This is what usually happens to me and some poor plants stay in their trays far too long as a result. I’ve decided I must be very disciplined about this and keep up a flow of plants in and out of the polytunnel. Hopefully these hardy annuals will get off to a good early start. I plant two trays of plants containing stock, larkspur, nigella, and cornflower. When this is done it is time to come inside to get ready for my rehearsal.

PS For those of you who are interested, Betty the Bougainvillea has come into bloom! Astounding considering I thought she was dead a few weeks ago.



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