26 May 2016

Torn between two gardens

Lonicera

pear blossom

Ant + blueberries
Photos from late April: Honeyberry blossom, pear blossom, blueberry buds. 


I make no apologies for my absence here on the written page because, yet again, the gardening year has pounced before I'm completely ready.  One blog post a month? Shame on me! Still, all in a good cause - both the veg patch and the new 'middle garden' (so-called as it's bang-slap in the middle of the flats where I live) have both been dominating my time out of work hours, right up until the sun sets in the evening - but only on the evenings when I have the energy to garden after working a 10 hour day.

I thought the hard work in the veg patch was over and done last year when I fenced around it to keep cats and foxes out.  But, with me, there's always another good idea lurking - which is not to say that good ideas and the time available are necessarily compatible. That said, this spring I've reworked the veg patch: a perennial flower border has been created plus a new run of Polka raspberries; old rotten raised beds have been chucked out and replaced (with some neighbourly help) with scaffold board edging. The herbs have been dug up and replanted together into one area and a dozen or so Rosemary Beetles have met a terrifying early death under my boot. I'll spare you the view of the carnage. (By the way, keep an eye out for these pests because they'll swiftly decimate not only rosemary but also lavender and sage. I've previously written about them here.)

The above mentioned fencing project of last year is, by necessity, back on the agenda as the idea was sound but some of the bamboo canes weren't up to the task and have bent.  I blame small children leaning in to reach for the raspberries. Anyway, a nice chap up the road donated four tall tree stakes when he heard about the garden and these will be used as replacement corner posts.  One is in already as I had a chance to dig deep into a corner when I put up the trellis for my sweet peas a couple of weeks ago. The others will have to wait as excavating London clay is no laughing matter for my back.

Despite all this (and more), there have been many evenings and weekends when my first love has had to give way to the usurper - the middle garden. The vision for this garden is to bring it back to life as a welcoming space to relax in, preferably with dozens of flowers-for-cutting among nectar rich shrubs and perennials.  I know what I want but it will take a long time to get there -  no quick three week Chelsea build for me!

After lots of staring at the garden from my second floor window, I realised that until I cleared the extensive ivy and hugely overgrown hedges, it would be impossible to realise the garden's potential.  17 large bags of garden waste, a pile of brick rubble and 7 huge mounds of hedge prunings later, I feel we're getting somewhere. (As luck would have it, a neighbour is also enthused about the idea and her gardening talents have been well deployed.) There will be more details in my next post but at last I can now measure the garden so I can start planning! It's taken quite a few long days over many weekends during which time the veg patch has had to make do with just an evening or two of weeding.

There's two lessons that have come out of this - one, never ever plant ivy in a small garden unless you have time to maintain it and, two, weeding is probably the most important task to keep on top of in the garden. A bit like painting the Forth Bridge but, nevertheless, essential.

Back soon ... hope you're all enjoying the Chelsea Flower Show, in person or on tv.  You'll notice that I didn't go this year as I stupidly missed the deadline for both tickets and a press pass.  Duh.

Geum unfurling

20 comments:

  1. Yes I agree-no ivy unless it can be kept to a limited area and that needs real vigilance. And I discovered on the allotment that I actually enjoy weeding especially once the beds are planted up with produce. The intentional stuff looks so much better when sitting free of weeds and I get huge satisfaction keeping it clear. But your task sounds much more demanding-maybe get some good ground cover in fast in the middle bed as soon as you clear it. Great photos.

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    1. I've found weeding between my veg quite therapeutic, Sue, especially as the alternative is hauling down shrubs and chopping back hedges! The middle garden has about 60 square metres of planting space around the existing gravelled area so sufficient ground cover is going to be essential!

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  2. My Goodness, you don't half put a lot of effort into your gardening, Caro! My little-and-often tasks seem trivial by comparison. [Occasional building of raised beds excepted!] What variety of Blueberry is the one pictured, please? The flower-buds look completely different to the ones on my bushes.

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    1. Hahaha! Rather more effort than I'd originally anticipated, Mark! I confess to being more tired than I'd ideally like but it needs to be done. I don't have the name of the blueberry to hand - I'm pretty sure it was a random supermarket purchase as the first veg patch blueberries had migrated to a neighbour's allotment garden. If I find the label, I'll certainly let you know.

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  3. Wow you have been so busy but worthwhile for the end results. I have a couple of rouge ivy plants in my small garden and an oak sapling. Equally unsuitable for a small plot. I hope you are keeping well x

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    1. Ivy is the go-to shade plant for most people, Jo, but it's so vigorous that I find it a complete nuisance, especially as it will root wherever it touches. (Before we took it down, a thick wave of ivy almost toppled a brick wall in the veg patch gardens before I started food growing there!) I'm well thank you but feeling like I'd happily go back to just growing carrots! xx

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  4. Lovely to see this post from you. Glad you're ok. I'm with you on the ivy. Even in our decent-sized garden it's a pain in the proverbial. It sounds as though you've been extremely hard at work but I'm sure your efforts will be rewarded. It's all worth it, isn't it, when plans start shaping up? Like you, I'm missing Chelsea this year. It's the first year in about 10 that I haven't been. It's not the same seeing it on the tv. Hey ho. Next year! Sam x

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    1. Thanks, Sam. I did wonder if anyone would notice I was missing! Clearing the garden was hard work but it already looks so better (as a blank canvas!) and lots of neighbours are starting to take an interest which is really lovely. I really wish I could have gone to Chelsea this year (like you, first year in a while that I haven't gone) but hoping to make it to Hampton Court instead. C x

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  5. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. You've certainly been busy, and I agree wholeheartedly about weeding.
    Happy gardening. Flighty xx

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    1. Thank you, Flighty - weeding is probably the most essential task of the year - but it's the raspberry runners that are driving me mad this year - they're popping up all over the place, even in the middle of my broad beans! grrrrrr! x

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  6. Gardening is always time consuming at this time of year even without developing your new plans.The vision of your middle garden sounds wonderful, and those 17 bags of garden rubbish will have been worth it in the end. Sarah x

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    1. It amazes me how much time it takes for the simple tasks like seed sowing, never mind construction work! Each year I hope that it will get easier and simpler but my plans keep growing so I can't see that day coming soon! Caro x

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  7. I am torn too, between raising new (mostly veg) plants and clearing the Precipitous Bank. There are just not enough hours in the day nor the energy to be had and I'm behind with everything, including blogging. It's quite amazing how quickly the weeds grow once we've had a bit of rain and some warmer temperatures, as you will see in my next post!

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    1. I know the feeling, Jessica - something has to give! The longer hours of daylight mean that 'something' is usually my supper. Luckily, I'm really fond of a quickly thrown together salad! And as for seed sowing ... if only they grew as quickly as weeds!

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  8. What lovely photos! No wonder you don't have much time for blogging, seems you have your hands full but are winning. Looking forward to hearing more. Oh...ivy, it's the bane of my life as it grows everywhere, and if only there were enough hours in the day to deal with weeds.xxx

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    1. Thanks, Dina, I'm glad you like the photos, I was particularly pleased with the honeyberry photo at the top :o) At this time of year, it's always a battle to choose what to do first. You know things are getting out of hand when I start making lists!

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  9. wow, what a lot of work you have done - amazing! I was lucky, I had a pretty blank slate when I moved into my home and garden. pulling out so much rubbish would be very daunting physically and mentally! but ultimately, rewarding. well done - now comes the fun part. look forward to reading about it.

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    1. The fun part will start once I get paid this month!! So frustrating to see lots of seed and plant sales online here in the UK but I have to rein myself in until after payday! In the meantime, I'm researching lots of the plants that I want - and have a very vivid imagination!

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  10. Good grief Caro, you must be exhausted! Your new garden venture sound talk exciting though. I'm with you on the weeding, though my current issue is not having plants to put in to another the ground and limit the opportunities for the weeds to set seed. I've some gardening planned for Sunday pm, assuming I don't go to an open garden in the yellow book instead... at least I got my sweet corn in the ground at long last. Enjoy your two gardens, but please don't break yourself in the process...

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    1. Actually .... yes. I'm knackered, although mainly feel it at work, lol. There's nothing like a bit of gardening to perk me up but I pay for it later. It's an age thing. I'll try to take your advice and not overdo things but I'm a sucker for getting things done. Progress will be reported back on! x

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Caro x

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