This is bonkers. Tomorrow, 1 August, is Lughnasa. It’s supposed to be hot. You’re supposed to climb mountains and pick bilberries. The downside of this is that a) climbing mountains this year would be more like bog snorkelling than climbling and b) bet the bilberries won’t be ripe, as my blueberries aren’t and they usually ripen first. Grumble.
But it’s not all grumbling. We had some nice days; we even had some days when it didn’t rain. And I’ll ‘fess up: the shots for this post were taken yesterday, because the sun actually shone. And we had a – hmm, eventful – day in the garden.
First, the Looming Bonfire Heap of Horror is no more. It was astonishingly dry and burned really fast, revealing the true ground surface under one of my ash trees:
For scale, the wall is about 5ft high; the heap was higher than the wall, and stretched out to the bottom of the slope, keeping the height consistent. Once it had gone, we seized the opportunity to clear out a year’s worth of crap beside it: brambles, nettles, suckered damsons, an torn superman top, several takeaway containers, cans, one clog (that’s CLOG, not dog, by the way – CLOG, pink, plastic, not breathing and furry) and a small model car.
And, incidentally, this clear-out revealed a higher view out over the village (and over An Artist’s Garden) towards the sea. The corner is the only possible heap location so the view will be inaccessible again soon, but I’m enjoying getting a few feet higher than is usually possible.
While the mother of all bonfires was roaring away I attacked the giant skimmia which you can see in the left of the top photo, clearing out some of the lower branches. They were virtually incinerated on contact, and we shifted our attention to the middle garden; P is a master bonfire-builder, and we were quite confident in moving away from it slightly.
It was vital to get down here as there are some huge changes coming up – well, one huge change – and we needed to do some more clearing. Specifically, we needed to remove a huge overgrown hebe which was around the base of the Western Red Cedar, because the tree will be coming out.
I couldn’t see the trunk before – the hebe reached out onto the grass about two metres, and was almost that high.
The hebe itself had never been the same since the bad winter a couple of years ago so I didn’t feel too guilty, and the change is enormous. I just love the long, straight trunk punctuating the garden… If it wasn’t for the fact that the tree seems intent on bringing the house down eventually, I’d consider leaving it in.
Yes, I know it’s beautiful, architectural, etc., and yes, I did spend a lot of money having work done on it last year, but it’s not stopped its quest for world domination.
See what it’s done to the path? The house is just out of view at the right – very close. This is why it has to go. And, as the tree surgeon said, it’s not as though it’s the only one I’ve got. The other is right at the top of the top garden, and it’s well away from any buildings. On the positive side, the difference in light levels from removing the hebe was huge; taking the tree out will make a vast difference. And it should help with damp, as well.
(Doesn’t stop me being sad, though. I keep going out and hugging it. Of course, the tree surgeon’s quote might be vast, in which case I shall construct a tree house in it and just move over.)
Just across the path from it is a holly which I cut to the ground every few years. I’m going to let that grow up a bit – a suggestion from Katen of Artist’s Garden who had to come round because I was traumatised by the sudden feeling of exposure – and possibly put a tamarix and some perovskia where the tree now is. Possibly.
Away from the trauma and the wholesale ground clearance is the calm of the bottom garden. Hm.
The new bed I’ve just posted about, so I’ll leave that for now – but its success has inspired me to tackle the curving bed in the background behind it.
This has become something of a dumping ground, dominated by a great sprawling clethra – the disorganised paler green heap in the right/middle – which even overshadows the ginkgo, the real star. It’s coming up (yup, got another of those, too) and I am finally sorting this bed out.
I don’t regret starting, but this is a really nasty job, involving removing huge mats of primroses and putting them somewhere else (er, in my new dumping ground underneath the camellias). It will be worth it; the huge hedge behind is a great backdrop, and there are some good plants in there somewhere. It’s the only place where the Acer will survive, so that’s staying, for one, as is the acid green euphorbia.
This bed is going to be essentially yellow, gold, orange and red, shading into more muted tones and whites and finally blues to tie in with the new bed – or at least that’s the plan. Ish. Maybe.
In all of this work I am still managing to take a bit of time to enjoy the meadow where the hogweeds are flowering,
though I must admit that it feels rather like September there. Still, one hint of sun and it’s teeming with insects – but not as many bees as usual….
I don’t suppose it will be long before it gets cut. What a bizarre year this is.
And I’m not mentioning vegetables.
There are some surprises to console me, though. I’d forgotten about the Astrantia down in the darkest bit of the garden, the fernery (sounds posh but I’ve given up on everything else; happily I love ferns).
It had one flower head last year but it was spreading on the quiet. Pretty.
And I’ve had another surprise, not quite what I was expecting.
This is a black hollyhock. Oh yes it is. Because the label said so, that’s why…