No doubt like a lot of people the wonderful burst of sunshine on Saturday drew me in to the garden where I happily spent the afternoon cutting back, digging and doing some planting.
Some plants haven’t survived the snow, ice and indecently wet winter: my glorious gunnera seems to have taken a bit of a hit although I’m desperately hoping I’ve spotted some new colour trying to burst through. Despite being hardy my potentilla seems to have given up the fight; I’ve chopped it right back in the hope it will decide to have another go. And my clematis Montana is just about hanging on in there; it normally has an abundance of flowers but it looks as though they’re going to be few and far between this year, even allowing for the fact that everything in the garden’s about a month behind. As for my canna lilies, well, forget it…
But not all is lost. Plenty of shoots are starting to appear, my weeping willow is now turning green and dancing in the breeze and bluebells are poking up their heads.
As my boys are getting older the way in which the garden is being used is changing. Largely that means less football and rugby which means I probably have more planting opportunities. So I started on Saturday by planting a magnolia. I love magnolias but only now have I regained the space to show one off in its full glory. It’s rather small now, will take years to grow, but that’s the beauty of gardening.
The bottom half of my garden is boggy and I decided a while ago to just go with it rather than fight it and to keep it natural and pretty wild. It’s taken some time to reclaim what was an area totally overrun with weeds and thistles. But after a lot of hard graft I now have a (small!) pond and what I’m hoping will turn into a lush, green space with ferns, willow, gunnera, irises, alum lilies, astilbe and the like (hard to imagine as I’m ankle deep in bog). It’s all presided over by the graceful weeping willow which casts gentle shade around.
I feel quite ‘enclosed’ when I’m down here and I have a wish list of certain things I’d like to add. First off, I’d really like a fire pit. Big Fire at the Shops at Dartington has a great selection of Kadai fire bowls which originate from India and are up to 100 years old (visit www.bigfire.co.uk). The shop sells everything you could think of for outdoor cooking as well as garden furniture and wood-fired hot tubs. For lighting I have to have fairy lights festooned in the branches plus plenty of outdoor candle lanterns but also I’d like some torches in the ground. I’m not always a big fan of solar lights but www.solarcentre.co.uk sells a solar torch light that produces a pretty flickering flame effect. For seating, I have a selection of old favourites and a hammock but I’m aiming to add a swing seat – they’re so evocative of childhood lazy summer afternoons. I actually like the traditional swing with a canopy but if you’re after a more contemporary version Bramblecrest Garden Furniture sell a hanging cocoon version. Just scatter plenty of cushions and you have a perfect escape.