Updated: Mar 3, 2019
It is supposed to rain today but luckily it stays dry, although becoming increasingly windy - wind always makes me nervous, it can do so much damage. This unsettled mood affects the animals, they run around more and the cats chase each other in and out of the rustling grasses. I work at Harrow Young Musicians on a Saturday morning with my daughter Aideen but we are back and lunch eaten and outside before 3 o'clock. My eldest daughter has been helping her dad outside since late-morning (she enjoys a lay in, having worked hard all week) but I think its great that she comes out to help at the weekend. They are working hard clearing ground at the front of the house to improve its appearance for open days. This involves levelling heaps of earth, dragging big barrows of brambles and dead tree etc. to the far side of the orchard to the bonfire. Later on she disappears inside to dress up to go clubbing, quite a contrast! Aideen decides to put harp practice on hold until the evening and decides to come out to help as well. We all seem to be at our happiest when we are outside and working on this joint family enterprise, I feel truly blessed with my family. The first job for me is to water the root trainers and trays in the propagators which are both working well. Minxy - queen of our cats - decides to sleep on the tray of newly planted Delphinium seeds, fortunately they have yet to emerge! I then plant a small Azalea in one of the containers by the front door to replace one which has died some time ago.
I then move to the mixed border that runs alongside the wall of trained (theoretically trained!) fruit that I had been pruning yesterday. This border is 60 metres long and 2 metres wide and planted in 10 metre repeating sections. So I start on some more pruning and cutting back... gardening is one long cycle of sowing, planting, growing and cutting back! I give the ornamental grass - Pennisetum Redhead, a severe haircut. It has been allowed to stand through the winter, looking beautiful in the frost, but now new growth needs to be given a chance. This reveals the leaves of bulbs previously hidden by the dry leaves of the grass. I cut back the Russian Sage - Perovskia Atriplicifolia 'Blue Spire' (one of my favorites) and the Verbena 'Bonariensis', which has self seeded all over the place. These will both look much better in the summer if they are pruned quite hard now. I remove the dark seed heads of Rudbeckia Goldsturm - also left for their winter show and benefit to wildlife. This bed has more than 90 roses running through it, I added 36 to the original 60 at the end of last year. I decided to start on the Spring pruning of the roses as I go along the border, they were partially pruned in the Autumn. I finished the first 10 metre section and have started the second section as they light disappears. I return to the polytunnel and check the propagators, wrapping up the old one in recycled giant bubble wrap because the plastic cover has so many holes in it, this does a great job at keeping it snug. I closed the door and pray the wind doesn't get too strong.