Sunday, 31 May 2015

End of Month View - May

What a mad last couple of months I have had! When I was offered the bungalow back in February I realised it would take time to sort out everything and get a final approval for a swap, but I did of course not plan on dislocating my hip replacement in the middle of the whole process – neither did I think the house swap application would take such a long time as it actually did, and the nail-biting finish with a deadline approaching and a final yes from the council a day after the deadline was a bit more than I appreciated. But I am here, I have lived in my new house – and garden for almost 3 weeks – and I am hopefully NEVER going to move again!

I still have boxes to open and lots of things to do in the house, but the garden is pulling me outside whenever the weather is good enough so I am trying to divide my time and energy between the two, the main task for the garden up until now has been to re-arrange all the plants so that plants that need sun gets enough sun and plants that can do with less sun can be moved to shadier position. The garden has large areas of shade, mainly because it is so overgrown, once everything is cut down and pruned it will be a bit more spacious and have more sun, but will still have lots of shady areas. Good then that I come from a shady garden and many of my plants can cope with shade. I never did a final count of pots but I think I was very close to 700 by the time I was finished lifting and potting everything I took with me from my old garden. It’s going to be a challenge to keep everything watered and alive over the summer while I decide what to do and where to put everything.

I have had to make use of the outside of my fence for now for some of my containers, I am on the end so I don’t think anyone will mind, no-one has said anything and soon most of these will be in flower and look beautiful so perhaps I will make a permanent feature here on the outside.

I have started to clear out the weeds on the inside, I was initially planning to make this front garden a place for my roses, but it turns out the large trees make this a space with no proper sun, only a bit of dappled sun so I have had to rethink this. I think this will be a great space for all my fuchsias so I have started to fill it up with some of them.

My first attempt to make fuchsia standards is still going well, the two fuchsias ‘Mrs Popple were planted as tiny cuttings in November 2013 and I am glad I didn’t listen to the advice that you can’t grow standards outside in Britain. Turns out you can! Mine survived fine last winter despite being 1.3m tall and in small pots – they grew like mad last year, much taller than I thought they would. I wasn’t supposed to top them until this summer but I had to do it in August last year or else I would have ended up with standards 2m tall! This year they will be allowed to just fatten up with branches on the top and I will give them bigger pots and some fertiliser and good compost – it’s on my very long to do list....

The rest of my front garden is still looking....well, there are weeds everywhere. I keep filling bag after bag and the council’s composting service will be familiar with my new address in the weeks and months to come! Eventually I will have a composting bin myself, I have wanted to have one for ages but in my old garden there was no room for one – here there is, but I would have filled one in a week so for now I will send it off to the council.

I have managed to empty a lot of the crates I used to transport all my plants, about a third of them so far, they are stacked here. When all are emptied out I will give them away on Freecycle, I am sure someone will pick them up pretty quickly. The bags are weeds, ready to go to composting. On the right side of the gate you can just about see one of the long-term projects of the garden. I have been told by the previous tenant that sometime in the past, this build-up area was used as a pond with water lilies. Having a pond has always been very high on my wish-list.

But after removing a third of a huge acanthus I realised that at some point the pond has been filled in with soil and paved over. Not sure why that has been done, but that’s going to be a huge excavating project I will have to get someone else to do for me. I will either have to pay someone to do it or perhaps ask my son if he would like to do his work-out here instead of in the gym – he won’t even have to pay a membership fee to train his muscles here :-)

I haven’t made many decisions about the garden yet, for now I am just clearing weed and pruning, cutting down and removing things I am definitely not keeping. After everything is done I can then sit down and decide what I will have where. But some things I have already decided are definitely for keep. The lovely tree in the middle here is called Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' - Pink Variegated Willow and I am glad I got to see it in the spring as later in the season the tips turn variegated green like the rest.

This tree is also called the flamingo tree, because of the striking pink blotches on the new shoots, and in the winter when the leaves are off, the stems are bright red. A definite keep.

The Salix integra is supposed to be a small lollipop tree, but this one has not been touch for many years – like the rest of the garden. It is supposed to be pruned in late winter but I will have to research further to find out if I can prune it all in one go or if I have to take it down in stages – I don’t want it to die on me from being cut back to a third in size! This is the view from my back door, the choicya in the foreground is enormous, I don’t particularly like the smell of the flowers and although it is an evergreen bush and therefore good for winter interest, it will definitely have to come down in size. I will try to prune it hard and see if it recovers and get new leaves, if not it’s not a big loss if it has to go, I have lots of more interesting plants to put in this spot.

I found a lovely clematis next to my shed, it has probably not been cut down for possibly more than 10 years, makes me smile walking around here in my new garden and seeing all the plants that are doing remarkably well without having had any care or attention for years, when I put so much work and consideration with my plants in my previous garden. Many plants can obviously do well without any pruning, fertiliser or water! But next spring I will cut this one down anyway, just to tidy up and get rid of all the dead branches underneath it, I hope it is a clematis pruning group 3, I have no idea, it is definitely not an evergreen, but could be a number 2 for all I know.

Did you notice the white flowers between the clematis in the previous photo? Do you know what it is? Here is a full photo of it, a monstrous plant with the deadliest, longest thorns I have ever seen!! And the smell of the flowers is really foul, like a mix of sickly sweet and cat wee. Sorry if that made you gag but that’s what it smells like.

So I cut it down, the whole thing. But there are two more in the garden, which makes me wonder if this was actually planted or if it is a weed or self-seeded from a nearby garden. The other two will have to go too, but this one was the highest priority as it was right next to my shed and I had to pass the smell every time I went in and out of the shed. Good riddance! I still haven’t dug up the roots - that’s going to take some elbow grease. The soil in this garden is hard as rock, I don’t think I could manage to dig up any of the plants I will have to take out, not at this time of year at least. Every time I stick a spade in the ground it feels like I just hit concrete, I can’t believe all the trees and shrubs are happily growing in this. I really miss my crumbly, soft soil in my old garden, I spent years improving it with numerous bags of bark mulch. I will do the same here but it will take many years to achieve the same result. In the mean time I am not sure how I am going to manage to dig here, but I can see me having to wait until November or so for any major digging, if any at all.

Would you like to see my shed? Of course you would!

Come inside, it’s ample space :-) A shed was another thing very high on my wish-list, and what a size I got. This is the main shed, there is a smaller tool shed around the side of this. In here I have put some old furniture and a desk, and the shelves on the right side were here already. The roof is a bit leaky and will need a repair soon and I would like to get some vinyl to put on the floor to make it easier to keep clean, but this shed is going to be a very well utilised space and well worth moving house for!

I have made a movie of my new garden, it will give you a better sense of what’s where and will be a nice reference for all the changes that I will make in the year to come. Look out for the apple tree with the roses, those roses are a definite keep as well, but have probably not been pruned for many years so they actually grow inside the apple tree and so far up that I can only reach the furthest down to cut.
Also, look out for the cat from next door, he is super friendly and my cat is already accepting him visiting. The day I filmed was their second meeting, not bad encounter for two cats that are strangers. I have installed a cat flap with a chip reader, I have never had that before but I am glad I splashed out on a cat door like that. I don’t think my cat would have been just as friendly if the cat next door had walked inside my house. The neighbour cat is obviously used to a cat flap, but doesn’t understand why he can’t get in. But he gives the cat flap a good go at times :-)

My movies are absolutely best viewed in HD, full screen, you can tinker with the settings at the bottom right corner :-)




The music was ‘Symphonie Fantastique - A Ball’ by Hector Berlioz.

And finally, a photo of those roses from the apple tree again, aren’t they lovely? I wish I knew what they are called, any suggestions?

I am sorry I didn’t manage to make the round to everyone after my last post here, I really try to visit everyone who leaves a comment but it has just been so much to do and time and health has not enabled me to do all the things I would have liked to. I will try to make up for it after this post :-)

I am linking this EOMV post to Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.
And to In a Vase on a Monday with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden 
Until next time, take care.

34 comments:

  1. Helene, congratulations! You are in your new house and in your new garden! You have some great plants growing there, and two (!) sheds! It's nice to have both sun and shade; that's just wonderful! I am impressed with the number of containers you need to deal with... 700 - wow!
    I hope your hip is ready for the summer season in the garden, with all the challenges and excitement of the new place!

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    1. Thanks Tatyana, I hope I am ready too! The biggest challenge will be to water all the pots while I am clearing the garden for weeds and pruning and cutting down everything – that’s going to take most of the summer I think. Only when that’s finished can I start planning what to do with the garden and where to plant what.

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  2. You're starting to get sorted out!
    The white flowered shrub you cut down looks like pyracantha and it is a beast. I cut ours right down this year too, it's come back with even more shoots from the base so now I have to decide whether to dig it up completely. You will get berries on the others if you leave them, orange or red, in autumn.

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    1. Ah, Pyracantha, yes – I used to have a Cotoneaster in my old garden, similar, but with no thorns, and much nicer flowers. I might leave one of them and endure the smell of the flowers just to get the berries in the autumn. Perhaps. Not sure. In any way it will be a big job to dig out the roots of the other two, good luck with yours!

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  3. Wonderful to see how well you're settling in. Slow and steady wins the race, well it's not a race in this case, but the saying works for gardens too, don't you think? The colour of the rose in your last photo is exquisite, like a painting of a rose.

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    1. Thanks Rosemary, I am already in love with that rose! I might try to move it to a better place later on, I can imagine that when the rose was planted, the apple tree was just a small twig and neither were even close to each other. Today they are growing as one huge apple-rose tree, lovely to look at, but difficult to take care of.

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  4. A lot accomplished in a short time, and a lot to do in the long range, one pot at a time! Nice to know your cat has a new friend. In the film they both seem to have have easy-going temperaments!

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    1. My cat is almost 14 years old, moving house with him has turned out to be no issue at all, he was indoors for 10 days and didn’t really ask to go out until I got the cat flap installed the last day. The neighbour cat is super-friendly, he jumped into my lap and asked for a cuddle the first time I met him! He is probably a lot younger than my cat and is clearly showing that he accepts that my cat is the boss.

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  5. Dear Helene, I am glad that you are settling in well into your new home and garden. Gosh, 700 pots to water? I don't even want to think about it... Thanks goodness it rains a little more in the UK than here in California, but still I believe you have set up quite a challenge for yourself.
    I love the violet clematis and I actually like the white flowering bush. Could it be that it is a spirea?
    This rose that grows into your apple tree looks like a Hybrid Tea Rose to me. It is very beautiful. It is difficult to ID a rose and honestly I have no clue what it could be. Hopefully some others of your readers can help.
    It must be so exciting to start a new garden and I hope you enjoy the process!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks Christina, it rally is exciting to have a new garden! I keep discovering new things all the time and I have so many ideas I would like to try out, once I have got the garden into a bit tidier state than now. We won’t have much rain from now on and until November so I am afraid my pots will have to be watered by me, all of them. A huge task, but as soon as I can start planting it will help. The white bush is a pyracantha like Jessica said above, but I actually have two spireas in the garden too. One’s already gone, the other will stay for now but might go, both were very old and woody and not very nice. I will have to make some tough choices in this garden in order to make room for all the plants going in, anything not smelling nice or not looking nice will be rather short-lived!

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  6. Skal si det er litt av en jobb du har begynt på, men du har jo fått gjort mye allerede!
    Koselig å se på at katten din har fått en ny venn :)
    Nydelig rose!

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    1. Takk Marit, det føles ganske overveldende akkurat nå, men er ganske spennende også. Jeg aner ikke ennå hva jeg skal gjøre med hagen, jeg må klikke ned og rydde før jeg kan begynne å planlegge – og så kommer den morsomste delen – å plante. Rosen var et funn!

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  7. I agree that the shrub is a pyracantha - it is a good wildlife plants as it has lots of berries in autumn.

    You are going to have lots of fun sorting out the garden.. The shed could become a studio

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    1. I might let one of them stay, the one furthest from the shed, just for the berries – but the flowers are really bad smelling! And yes, I am really enjoying getting to grips with this garden, so much potential, just got to get on top of the weeds :-)

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  8. Glad to read you are settling in Helene. I don't envy you the care you are going to have to give all those pots. I'm sure I said last month that this would be a good year for a wet summer down there. I'll bet that area outside your fence with bring your neighbours much joy when they are all in bloom.
    You do have some gorgeous inherited plants and that Clematis is a cracker. I'd tend to go along with it being a group 2 as it's my understanding that group 3 flower a bit later in the year.
    I also agree re the ID - a pyracantha and as said good for wildlife but not perhaps next to your shed. I train mine tied to wires against the fence which keeps it tidier and far easier to control.

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    1. Thanks Angie, it all feels a bit daunting right now, along with opening boxes and sorting out the house the day just hasn’t got enough hours for me and the garden :-) But I will get there, one step at the time. As for the clematis, since it hasn’t been cut down for years it could be either a group 2 or 3, as down here you can easily get an unpruned group 3 to flower in May – even my C. 'Ville de Lyon' which is group 3 and always cut down in February used to start to flower in late May or early June. I left it in my old garden along with ‘Gravetye Beauty’, there was no way I could take care of those two enormous plants in containers over the summer. Not sure if I could have managed to even dig them up as they are huge. The new tenant is hopefully enjoying the flowers now.

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  9. Moving into a new garden like this must be daunting and exciting at the same time. The Salix and rose are definitely keepers! The special cat door is a good investment - we installed one at our old house and it not only kept out the neighboring cats but also raccoons and other wildlife.

    I look forward to seeing how your garden installation proceeds.

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    1. Thanks Kris, I am already very happy I splashed out on the cat door, although I won’t have any racoons visiting! There are plenty of foxes around though, but I have yet to hear about foxes going through cat flaps. They go through open back doors and windows, and they are fouling everywhere, as opposed to the cats who always cover over when they have been to the toilet.

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  10. How exciting to be discovering a new garden and at least as a council tenant you need not have any qualms about taking all those crates of plants with you :) It will take time to know hat to keep and where to put your own treasures, but it is a lovely rose you have put in your Monday vase so thanks for sharing it and good luck with your voyage of discovery!

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    1. Thanks, discovering that lovely rose in my new garden was a nice surprise. All the plants I took with me from my old garden were plants I put into it over the years I was there, when I moved in 14 years ago there was just a lawn, a large camellia and some tatty old shrubs I removed. So yes, I have no qualms taking with me the plants that were mine, but I made the garden nice for the new tenant before leaving as one of the reasons why he wanted to leave this place and swap with me was that he could not cope with this garden. I can understand that, it is a huge project and he was not really interested in gardening anyway. So a win-win for both :-)

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  11. what a fab shed - so much space, how very exciting. I dont get to use the one in my garden as its my sons :(
    It must be exciting getting to know a new garden. You do know that you will never ever be rid of the Acanthus dont you, any bit of root left in the soil will grow.
    I will enjoy seeing hat you decide to do but that rose is definitely worth keeping

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    1. Oh, I know I will have to battle the acanthus for years to come, but I managed to get rid of one in my old garden so I will give it a good go here too! The shed in itself was worth moving house for, it is already turning out to be so useful and once winter come it will be my potting shed and keep me outdoors even when it rains.

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  12. Hi, Helene!
    Your new garden gets nicer, and you have many plans and thoughts. I liked your video, now your cat has new red-fur friend! I also liked your shed, so useful, with shelves for your many seedling. Of course it needs a repair, but you have it.

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    1. Hi Nadezda, I am glad you liked the video, it shows the new garden well – and also how much work I have in front of me! A shed was to priority when I was looking for a new place to live so I am very happy I found a place with not one but two sheds :-)

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  13. i know what you mean - I moved half a year ago to another part of the state, and I still have the feeling I'm a newbie here (North. California) - a major overhaul on land to build a barn.

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    1. Hi, and welcome to my blog. I only moved 2.3 miles from where I used to live so I know the area well, but moving house – and garden is a big upheaval no matter how short distance you move. I am looking forward to getting started on the garden, for now I am just clearing weed and watering all my plants.

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  14. Hi Helene
    I am really enjoying getting to know your new garden,the shed looks good and well worth maintaining. I think your clematis looks very much like a viticella which is happy with group 3 pruning. Videos are getting even more professional looking. take care, Alistair

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    1. Thanks Alistair, I think I enjoy making the videos just as much as taking pictures of my garden, I am so glad I bought that little camcorder last year! I agree that it is probably a Clematis vitachella I have, the questions is, which one? I am a stickler for full plant names in my garden and have even turned down plants in swaps because the plants didn’t have names – bugs me not to know what the names are of those plants I definitely want to keep here in my new garden :-)

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  15. As other's have pointed out your "mystery" shrub is a Pyracantha, I have one but have never really noticed a bad smell and it does have a profusion of really attractive berries, unlike Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea which I also grow which has vicious thorns and a really bad scent when in flower but has the rather nice purple foliage. Maybe you can't have everything :-)

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    1. I think smell is very individual and personal, I have heard some people say lilies smell awful – to me that’s the most wonderful scented plants I have in my garden! I had three pyracanthas, I am considering leaving one just to get the berries but I will have to prune it down considerably as all of them were about 3m tall. I have read it takes well to hard pruning so I will have a go when I get to that end of the garden – I am working my way round slowly but surely, this week I have filled 9 bags for the council composting service!

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  16. Wow, you have done a lot! Hope you are settling in nicely and enjoy your new place! I am so impressed with how many plants you managed to take. And I never knew you could grow fuchsias as standards! Your fuchsias are always so lovely. I love the dappled willow as well. I actually recently planted one, though here people usually grow them as shrubs. The pink is so pretty on them! Good luck with getting your garden in shape. Excited to see how it all turns out!

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    1. Thanks, things are going slowly forward with my new garden, I am mainly pruning and cutting back, haven’t planted a single plant yet. Keeping all the plants alive is going to be a struggle over the summer so a lot of watering, almost daily is a becoming a chore – but only temporarily until they are all in the ground. I read that Salix integra could be grown as a bush too, and it can be bought over here too as that, I think a grafted standard my size comes with a rather hefty price tag so I suppose at some point there was someone living here with a keen interest in the garden.

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  17. I think your new garden has great promise Helene. You are wise to get to know the garden before you place things, although I think you were right to remove the shrub by the shed right away.
    In your comment you mentioned you were looking for white flowers for shade. Lamium Maculatum 'White Nancy' is a good non-invasive groundcover. Dwarf Goat's Beard, aruncus aethusifolius has really nice ferny foliage, a compact shape and somewhat insignificant white flowers. Some heuchera have creamy white flowers. You might find some dwarf hosta with white flowers. Bleeding Hearts are taller than you indicated, but they have white flowers. Again it is a bit tall for what you are looking for, but Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata has white flowers and really nice ferny foliage.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, I am cutting and pruning and discovering new things almost daily here. Thanks for your list, I already have White Nancy on my wish-list and a Dicentra Alba is in a pot waiting to go in the white shady bed (sorry, I know it’s no longer called Dicentra, can never remember the new name!). The Aruncus aethusifolius is a lovely plant, now on my wish-list, thanks for the tip and I will look for some hostas with white flowers, I think I have read about one with scented, white flowers but can’t remember the name. The bed I am making is rather large, I will need quite a lot of plants so will do a search online for more suitable plants.

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