Spring has sprung!..

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It’s this time of year things begin to rev up a gear here in our garden, as I’m not much of a writer, I find keeping a constant note of all things that are going on, and the many changes occurring throughout the garden, come last on my ever growing list of jobs to do! Having said that, I’ve made a promise to myself to make a firm effort by keeping up with logging what is going on in an around the garden and at the same time sharing it with you!
A couple of weeks ago we welcomed a new working member to our garden.
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This is called a ‘Wheelhouse’ ride on tractor mower. Tom found her on eBay and couldn’t resist, and I can see why!
She’s been sitting in a barn for over 20 years and needs a couple of new bits, but on the whole is in good working order, Luke is getting to grips with working her. I haven’t had a look in as of yet..
In the garden, I’ve finished pruning and mulching all the roses along the front of and in line with the lean-to. I gave them a heavy top dressing with some organic farmyard manure, to keep them happy.

Next I’ve been focusing on the beds inside the house garden, mostly cutting back and top dressing. It’s backbreaking work with rewards that are hugely satisfying at the end, especially if your son is helping with moving out some of the Hesperis that has self seeded everywhere!

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I always find myself coming in at the end of the day looking like a Cheshire Cat.

Don’t you find theres no better place to be, than when you’re busy doing whatever you enjoy doing inside that magical space, deep in your thoughts.. of whats happening now, what you’re planting, imagining what it will look like in flower, what needs doing next, tuning into the noises going on around you, what they might be? Soaking up the weather, sunny or dull.. Breathing in the smells floating through the air surrounding you…. Feeling connected to that moment in time.. I do..

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Throughout the garden there’s life, lots and lots, new growth popping up daily.. The daffodils and muscari surrounding the outside and inside the walled garden are at their peak now.

Supplying us with constant displays in my kitchen, hallway and boot room.

 

All of the tulips are showing some promise of flowers for next month,

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apart from this beauty..

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Tulip ‘Ice Stick’. There’s nothing nicer than being greeted by this display, every time I leave or enter my home, I can’t help saying hello to them… In my head of course! My boys think I’m mad some mornings, when I race outside to get a closer look at something that has burst into flower overnight!
Things like this Viburnum Burkwoodii

Im still enjoying the last of theses flowers that are still blooming, and smelling wonderful, but are gradually coming to the end of their season, like this collection of Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn..
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One of the main projects we’re working on getting finished this year, is at the back of our house, Tom has put in the edging, and started top dressing this area,

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..ready for the turf that is arriving next week.. So exciting!        Will keep you updated..

I’m continuing with my fortnightly contributions to Mememe.online and having some fun doing some video blogs for it too. About 3 weeks ago, out of the blue, I was contacted by an online company that enjoyed reading about our progress in the garden and asked me to write a blog for their site! How flattering is that.. They published it today, if you’d like to have a read, hope you enjoy it, here’s the link https://blog.manomano.co.uk/expert-rose-care-jenny-williams/
The beauty of having fellow gardening friends is that you can share the occasional plant that needs splitting, last week I went over to collect 2 trugs, full of Bergenia Bressingham white.. It’s a love hate plant.. I love it because it’s a good ‘doer’ and provided it’s planted in the right spot and or combined well with other plants it can shine. I decided, after much deliberation.. To place it either side of a pair of carved stone scrolls, they are opposite the stone pillars inside the walled garden.

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Thankyou Gabrielle, I think they’ll look great here once established. Oh and thankyou Ben for photo bombing the shot!
Another week and I should be finished inside the house garden and Tom should have laid the turf, I can’t wait to see it and show you too..
Next week we are hosting our first ‘Avant gardeners’ meeting of this year, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and hearing what they have all been up to in their gardens. They don’t know yet, but I have a little surprise for them!
Here’s a a picture of one of our magnolia stellata, in flower, inside the walled garden.

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Have a wonderful weekend.. I know we will!!

Half Term..

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The day before my boys broke up for half term, Luke took this beautiful picture! It would have been about 7.30am while on our journey to school. Not so long ago, it would have still been dark at this time, and I’d be capturing the rising sun on my arrival home! By having the extra time in the mornings and evenings only means one thing..

..more time in the garden..yess!!

And also the race begins in clearing and weeding before all new growth becomes too big and difficult to work around.

So many exciting things are constantly  happening all over the garden now..

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The Iris reticulata in full swing..

All the tulips are coming along nicely..

And the Hellebores are by far the star performers here right now! I’d be tempted to hold a collection, but unfortunately I don’t know any of their variety names because most of them have been given to us!

 

We’ve been focusing on getting all of the roses pruned throughout January and February. Thankfully I’m  almost there! It’s a job that’s first on our list, with so many that need caring for. Last year was the beginnings of a strict pruning and feeding regime of our now 56 roses and it proved to be extremely effective. So many of our visitors passed comment on how healthy they looked.

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The aim is to have them all pruned before March, the mulching and feeding thereafter, in order to get the best performance we can. I have to say.. I’ve never pruned so much, AND so hard in all my years of gardening! It’s scary but I’m confident it will all be worth it in the end. We have invested in some organic bagged manure from our local garden centre to feed and mulch most of our beds and borders.. 5 pallets to be precise! I’m going to look like Popeye by the end of April!

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Our lawns have had their first haircut of the year..

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And looking better for it too, I still can’t believe it’s February..

We had some welcomed voluntary help last weekend from Andrew, a wonderful extra pair of hands that has helped to kick started this years project at the back of the house. It is situated between us and the Hall next door. This section was full of weeds.

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The aim is to turf and edge this area in the next couple of months. I can’t wait to see the end result!

Last Friday storm Doris brought some frustration to the garden..

The first picture shows a (thankfully!) empty hen house, in the background, that was blown 30 feet across the garden. (See where the hen house was, in the larger picture above) Amazingly it managed to stay upright, but the run that was attached was ‘flat- packed’! The second picture shows 2 fence posts and 4 panels missing, from a stretch of fence that divides us from the Hall next door. Thankfully nobody was hurt and we had no big trees down either.

A lovely friend of Toms family brought us a gift from her garden last week.. It’s a wonderful feeling when this happens, because the effort in digging up something, then bringing it to us is one of the kindest most thoughtful gestures I know.

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There must be about 30-40 Nerines here! Thankyou Jill xx

Yesterday I finally got round to planting them. I started by deviding the bulbs into 3 pots, then placed each one where I felt would give a drift effect through the border.

I hope they are happy in their new home, I can’t wait to see these beauties perform later on this year and the coming years.

Meanwhile.. Health and safety police look away!!

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Some great den building has been happening..

Sorry boys..

Back to school tomorrow!

Hello..Goodbye..

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We said goodbye to one of my favourite trees last weekend. We brought it with us from our previous garden as I wasn’t ready to part with it! Its thrived for a good 7 years until 2015 when signs of stress began to appear in the form of branches dying off. Last year no leaves grew, we waited and waited.. nothing. Much to my sadness ,our beautiful Robinia had to go.

On a brighter note our snowdrops are looking wonderful.

 

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We must have thousands of these winter beauties, scattered through our wooded area that surrounds the outside of our walled garden. There are two sections that look as if snow has fallen! I feel blessed each time I walk past them. They can mean so many things to so many people.. For me they symbolise the ‘awakening’ of  nature and time to come out from hibernation.

Last year my youngest presented me with a fist full of snowdrops, we placed them in a small glass of water and admired their delicate beauty on the kitchen table…

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Only to be told by my father in-law that they should never be brought indoors! I thought nothing of it until Friday when I had some of my garden group over to see them, when I told the story nobody had heard of the superstition! So that evening I decided to lookup some facts about this interesting flower..

Here’s what I learned..

In 1753 Snowdrops took the name Galanthus Nivalis their Latin name “Gala” which means milk and “anthos” which means flower, “Nivalis” also Latin and means snow.

They are thought to have come to the UK by the Romans around the 16th century and were first recorded as naturalised in the UK in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire in 1770s

Galanthamine started out in Eastern Europe, it has a substance that can be extracted from this plant and is known to be a dream enhancing natural nutrient and is an approved key ingredient in brilliant dreams.

Galanthamine can be purchased under the name of Reminyl that is used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The latest study’s show that galanthamine improves the working of some receptors in the brain. Ironicthree thousand years ago, in the epic poem Odyssey, the god Mercury (Hermes) gave Ulysses the herb called Molly (Galanthus Nivalis). This made Ulysses immune to the forgetfulness poisons of what the witch Circe had  inflicted on his crew.

As well as being a symbol of hope, purity and consolation its bulb is poisonous! Most likely because it can resemble a shallot.

Here’s the bit that filled my curiosity! There IS a superstition that surrounds this fascinating plant.. A single flower indicates death and should never be brought indoors.. This is most likely because of it poisonous calibre!

For such a dainty plant, who’d have thought it had so much about it!!

Other flowering bulbs are showing off their little green steams now. Especially some of the tulips!

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Last weekend I did some clearing by my cast stone cockerel.

It was a freezing cold morning I did this, by the time I had finished my fingers felt numb with cold! The feeling I got when I looked at the before picture was epic (as my sons would say!) That hour in the garden justified the rest of my afternoon with friends..

This weekend was a different story, no gardening sadly but lots of time spent with family..

Where did January go?!..

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As I’m listening to my youngest practicing on the piano I can’t help wonder.. Where did the last month go? I started a paper diary of our progress last January, and had a look back to see what we were upto this time last year..wished I hadn’t!

This time last year, I was over half way through cutting back the house garden.. Frustratingly I’m nowhere near that far ahead now! I hear you thinking… Mad woman..

My only excuse for this is that we have had two weekends away, which is unheard of for us. Also I remember being on a mission to have the garden ready for our NGS Open day.

Shortly after my last blog, I did a satisfying tidy up under my kitchen window, which has now officially kick started the race to get ahead..

Much better.. I can now see the muscari and the odd tulip poking through the soil..

As I headed over to the compost heap with my new trug full of clippings and leaves, I stopped and noticed the alliums were coming up through the nepeta where the obelisk fell over a few weeks back.. Ahh..I think to myself.. Must clear it, soon, before they get too big.

When our 2nd weekend away came to an end, I returned to to the garden as soon as time allowed.

The first job I did, and quickly too, was to clear this bed of last years nepeta to make way for the alliums.

Every day when I visit my hens, I always pass and check the area, where we planted the 400 Narcissus back in September.

On this particular morning I noticed that some are beginning to poke through the slightly frozen soil! Just by seeing this filled me with delight, my head was in a spin of what’s to come over the coming months..I pretty much skipped back to the house with the basket of eggs!

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With our second weekend of January at home, I can happily say ALL of the tulips are now in the ground at last! Hooray!

What a relief, thankfully I had some paper and a pencil in my coat pocket to jot down which bulb went where..

Amongst other jobs like leaf clearing, we made a start on pruning some of our climbing roses. The first one we tackled was  Rose ‘Chevy Chase’, a stunning red rambler, that is climbing against the west wall in Maggies boarder. It was one of the first roses we planted inside the walled garden in 2013, I remember buying it from Cottesbrook plant fair in the spring of that year on a Peter Beales stand. It was love at first sight!

 

Its a bit bigger now and a beast when it comes to pruning it! After a lot of discussion and decision making we took a ladder, some secateurs and stripped away all its old leaves, took out some unwanted stems from the base to open up the framework and cut the laterals back to 3 or so buds.

0c6f40df-2788-4a85-91fb-028a3368c705A pleasing result we think..

We also did something similar to the 3 roses climbing against the house.

It’s a great feeling when you tick off lots of jobs, and even better when you come inside and discover an email with a pair of tickets to the Chatsworth Flower Show! (A Christmas present from Tom’s sister)

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After a productive weekend I began to feel on top of things a bit more and ready to take on February!

Ps. I’ve started doing a vlog for a new online magazine, Mememe.online let me know what you think.

Plant therapy..

… “You will be amazing..and I love you”…
I whispered into his ear whilst holding back the tears and hugging him goodbye..

It’s a dreary damp Wednesday morning and I’m sitting in a cafe, waiting nervously for my youngest to complete his exam at school, a mile or so down the road.
Knowing I had 2.5 hours to kill, I headed off to the nearest garden centre for some plant therapy and a cup of tea!
Even though the skies were grey and unpleasant, the sea of green potted plants helped lift and switch my thoughts to the garden…

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I was quickly drawn to the Hellebores and primulas, debating wether or not to treat the garden to some!

I haven’t been in the garden since last week, when the wind came and blew down one of our obelisks!

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Luckily there was no damage to the Rose (Gertrude Jekyll), nor the box it landed on.
In order to prevent this from happening again I tied some weights to the base of the remaining two and draped a bag of compost at the base of the one that blew over, not pretty but it was all I had at the time..


A couple of weeks ago, I ordered x3 Eupatorium purpureum ‘Riesenschirm’ from a lady that holds the national collection,  I would have ordered 5 or 7 but 3 was all she had left! Check her out – Saith Ffynnon Wildlife Plants

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They arrived in a sack as bare root plants, and had to be planted as soon as possible. Thankfully the ground wasn’t frosted and I had a spare 30 mins to do it. I planted them into the back of the new border on the west wall, inside the walled garden. They will grow next to some grasses and a Ginko tree.


While I was at it I planted a couple of other plants in the same border that were waiting to go into the ground too!


While out and about, I noted that the Iris reticulata , that I planted at the end of September are coming on nicely.

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Well my time is almost up, so I’m off to buy some plants before I pick up my boy..

The last month..

I wrote this post a week after my Nan passed away, got so far and couldn’t finish it.. Thankfully it was archived, and now completed..

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It’s that frustrating moment when you can’t find that vital piece of paper, the one that lists where to plant the rest of your tulips…

After rummaging through coat pockets and endless notebooks, I gave up..

I do remember that I wanted to plant Tulipa ‘Chinatown’ with T ‘Angelique’inside a slate grey pot that had some lavender in this summer.

img_0049The Muscari Aucheri ‘dark eyes has been planted above the tulips, as shown below

As you can see I have used polystyrene at the base of this pot, (and many others) because it is light, and is a good drainage alternative. After a I had covered the tulips with about 8″ of soil I then spread out some Muscari bulbs for an earlier display. I then covered these over with a final 2-3″ layer of compost. The pot is by the boot room door so we can enjoy their wonderful  fragrance.

Here are some other bulbs that have a new home.

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All of the individual varieties of bulbs came in nets of 50 because I ordered them in bulk. So I needed to decide how many to use inside the old water tank, I know it’s  not big enough hold 150! So I took a guess and used 35 of each variety. The remaining 45 bulbs will have to go into another pot.

On 10th December  we had some lovely frosty spells, that prompted me to bring my tender salvias (that we’re in my summer pots) into  the room we use to serve the teas when we open the garden. It is a great place as it is not heated and has lots of windows to let the light in.

We often joke about who gets priority of this wonderful and useful place,as its multifunctional uses are endless for the whole family.. I think Tom would win every time!

Inside the walled Garden, Tom has been busy staking the fruit trees. A job that should have been done when we planted them about 3 years ago!

Along with greasing near the base of the apples and pears to prevent winter moths climbing up and laying their eggs!

 

The week before Christmas came my Nans funeral….

One of her requests was that there was to be no spending on flowers for her wicker coffin. Obviously I couldn’t let that happen! and promptly offered to put an arrangement together with the amazing help from my friend. Between us we managed to forage from mine and a couple of other gardens local to me (With their permission of course!) for all of the foliage.

To do something like this for her, felt like an honour and a way of saying a final goodbye..

It was important to the family that within the arrangement there was a robin, as she loved feeding the birds and watching them gave her great joy.

So the first thing I made was a nest for it to perch on. It was easier to make than I thought, I gathered some moss, a few small twigs and some leaves, from the base of some of our trees in the wooded area. After moulding it all into a ring doughnut shape, I wrapped some ivy around to hold it all together. Finally I pulled out some of the moss filling from the holes in the outer ring, added a little more moss and suddenly I had a nest!

The end result was better than I hoped for, I am most grateful for the time and help I received from Gabrielle. Thankyou.

Before I sign off and begin my late blog for January, here are two beautiful sunrises that brightened up some of my dull days near the end of December.

May 2017 be full of many more ..

Wordless Wednesday..

img_7409I took this picture on Thursday 1st December. Little did I know that 5hours later my Nan would pass away peacefully  in front of my eyes…

There are no words.. only memories full of love and happiness..

Emily May Jones enjoyed 81 wonderful years and will be missed dearly ..