They say a change is as good as a rest. Normally I’d agree with that, but the amount of turmoil we’ve had through June has left me not so much in need of a rest but intensive care.
It would not have been so bad had it not been for the silly amount I’ve been packing in. A combination of work trips, family visits, socials and domestic chores, ontop of garden projects, has drained every last drop of energy. Even Him Indoors is looking a little lacklustre.
This weekend we’re looking forward to some much needed TLC and togetherness when we flit over to Amsterdam for the city’s open gardens weekend. Before that, here’s a brief update on the three projects that I first posted about in March.
Down at Trevoole the new primrose border has settled down satisfyingly well. I planted it over a couple of days during early April in a shaded area which was formerly lawn, so the main invasion has been from grass seedlings. These are pleasingly easy to wheedle out. I left gaps in the planting, partly on purpose, so that there would be opportunities to adjust the scheme and fill any intervals in flowering.
My main routes for acquiring plants have been car boot sales and online nurseries. My experience with Crocus.co.uk was pretty good all round. The plants were a little small on arrival but have grown away vigorously. Car boot sales are pure pot luck, but West Cornwall is blessed with some good ones. On my last early morning visit to Hayle rugby ground (any later than 8am and the bargains have all gone), I bagged three Digitalis parviflora ‘Milk Chocolate’, three Campanula punctata ‘Wedding Bells’, a couple of ‘ansome Astelia nervosa (a snip at a fiver) and an Hydrangea seemanii, a plant you don’t really expect to find hanging out of the back of a transit van.
Other spaces have been filled with sweeps of Primula bulleyana, seedlings from Trevoole’s pretty bog garden. They will throw up burnished amber candelabras next year, continuing the gold, silver and copper theme we’ve chosen for the border. There are still a few vacant spots which will be held back for autumn flowering plants, and perhaps a couple more evergreens. Spring bulbs will be added when we visit in September
In Broadstairs, whilst the garden is greener and lusher than I can ever recall (I am crediting the potent agapanthus food I bought at Chelsea), the house itself is in desperate need of TLC. Nothing can happen now until our NGS open day is over, so the flaking paintwork will have to wait. Meanwhile the outdoor kitchen has been spruced up and I have invested in new garden furniture. The table, a pivotal feature in the garden, has been upgraded from a six to an eight seater, fashioned from reclaimed teak. It weights a stonking 70kg and that’s when it’s dry. The wood smells wonderful and has lots of quirks where patches in the old timber have been filled with smaller offcuts. In the fullness of time it will weather to silver grey, but for now I am happy to enjoy the warm peachy tones of the newly planed surfaces.
Finding chairs to complement the table was challenging, but in the end we agreed on beige ‘Air’ chairs made by Magis (available, like the ‘Vernet’ table, from John Lewis). I briefly regretted not choosing the same chairs in white, but then a seagull delivered a timely reminder why practicality must come first. The chairs fit neatly under the table and create much more circulation space than the bench and carver chairs that they replace.
Our final project this year, the London garden, took a new twist when we decided to bite the bullet and replace a rotten deck with raised beds. At 3ft deep these will ultimately give us the space to grow vegetables, which has never been a possibility on our rock hard, wafer thin clay. We will wait a few weeks before filling with a rich mixture of topsoil and Dalefoot double-strength wool compost, then get growing.
The builders have been very professional, which is nothing short of a miracle in London, but there have inevitably been casualties. I reflect on what the garden looked like in March, bare and virtually leafless, and remind myself that these are only plants and can be replaced in no time.
So, a busy spring, fast morphing into summer. Time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labours with a chilled glass of wine, or three.
What was your biggest gardening achievement this spring, and how will you relax this summer?