When I moved into my new house 6 weeks ago I could not wait to get started on my new garden and I must admit that unpacking my stuff and getting my house sorted has been a slow process as my garden is calling for me to come out every spare minute I have. It has been an exciting process to discover what I actually have inherited, but at this point it is a bit daunting too, with all the decisions I have to make. I have been blogging about my old garden for 4 ½ years and I have learned so much from all of you kind and experienced gardeners out there, and over the years I have been contributing in my small ways with my share of hints and tips and trial and errors too. Now I am calling on all of you gardeners to come with your helpful advice to some of the tasks, problems and decisions I am facing in my new garden, perhaps together we can come up with some solutions :-)
My front garden is going to be filled with fuchsias, the area behind me has huge trees which gives the front garden only dappled sun when the trees are in leaf so perfect for fuchsias. The ground is hard as concrete, I have not yet been able to dig ANYTHING up, not even small weeds, every time I stick a spade or a trowel in the ground I just have to give up, wherever I try, even under the bushes in the back garden. I will try to pour water and lay plastic here on the inside of the fence so I can start planting some of the fuchsias, but I am not sure it will be enough. I really miss the lovely soil I had in my old garden where I could just sit on my stool and dig with a trowel. Any good tips for loosening hard, unworked, unloved soil would be very welcome. Out here at the front of my house I will be keeping pots, the tarmac makes it impossible to plant anything but that’s OK, some plants will be fine to just stay in containers. Notice the unpruned Leylandii in the adjacent garden? Ugh, I detest them…
In the corner in front of the gate is yet another pyracantha, I wonder how many I have found now – 8 maybe? This one might be allowed to stay, although I will prune it and possibly try to train it up against this fence so I can plant something under it – and get all the brambles out of it, there are loads entwined. Proper clothing will be a must! Oh, and the barbed wire is going too, I think it looks like a prison, I will ask the council to send someone to take it off, hopefully they will do it for me, can’t see any reason to have it, it’s certainly no deterrent for thieves, if they want in, they will climb in, barbed wire or not.
Next to the pyracantha is my tall magnolia growing in a container, it would be very happy to get in the ground soon and I think this space would be a nice place for it, only worry is the morning sun which comes up here, although early in March, when this one is flowering, the sun would possibly come up further down, behind the trees – this is the difficulties with a new house and garden – ideally one should not plant anything until after a whole year to see things like that. But I don’t think my potted plants can wait a whole year. Apart from the magnolia, the space outside the back gate is mainly occupied by my lilies. There are a few here and the tallest ones are on the first photo, outside the white fence.
There are some lilies here on the left side before the back gate.
And many more just inside the back gate. I staked them all last week and counted them as I did them. I left many lily bulbs in the ground in my old garden as I could not be bothered lifting them all, I had no idea I had taken so many with me – in total I have 164 lilies squeezed into 40 pots. They flower at different times and are placed in various degrees of shade and semi shade so will flower over a long period, starting with the deep red Asiatic lilies which are already flowering and ending with the huge Goliath lily 'Miss Feya' in September/October. Eventually they will all be planted in the ground – if I could only manage to get a spade in the ground!
Once inside the back gate, apart from all the lilies, what meets you is the apple tree with the lovely climbing rose in the centre of this photo, and the huge ceanothus to the right here.
Here is the ceanothus seen from the other side, standing inside the garden.
Walking under the ceanothus it reveals it is actually TWO bushes – or should I call them trees? At this size they are more treelike.
Even though the outside is green and produces an enormous amount of flowers that spread all over the garden like a blue dust, the inside is a mess of dead twigs. I would like to take out some of the dead branches to make room for plants growing under them, but I am unsure of how much I can prune them. I have heard that canothus doesn’t take well to pruning but does that include dead branches without leaves or just healthy ones? Anyone got experience with such a mature ceanothus? I have done some research but all I can find is ‘don’t prune spring flowering ceanothus’, which isn’t really helpful :-)
Under the two ceanothus’ are a few straggly bushes that I am not sure what are, they don’t look very nice and I have loads of shade loving plants waiting to be planted that would be perfect under the canopy once the soil has been improved a bit – a lot – a lorry load of soil would be nice, if someone would offer to come and spread it for me!
Here is one of the plants close-up with last years’ flowers still on. A type of hebe? Or something else? Anyone recognise this? The blue stuff on it is dead ceanothus flowers and not from this plant.
I have never owned an apple tree, or any fruit tree for that matter so inheriting a garden with one apple tree, two plum trees, a cherry tree and another, huge cherry tree hanging over my garden was a treat – but also something I need to get clued up about. This is the apple tree, with branches hanging low right where I walk. I would like to remove some of the branches so I can safely walk under it without getting the branches in my face every time I forget to duck. It would also be nice to not get so many spiders and greenflies and other insects in my hair from sweeping low branches but can I just saw off those I don’t want and lift the crown so it looks nice and even? Or is there some rules here, can it be done any time of year for example?
The apple tree doesn’t look very healthy to me, but who am I to say – I have never had an apple tree before! I found this branch with some red marks on the leaves, doesn’t look right…..and these apples look far more red than the tiny reddening on the rest of the apples. I cut this branch off, it was low and in the way anyway, it was the only branch I could see with this, but the tree is so tall I can’t possibly inspect the whole of it.
Some of the leaves look like this, twisted from a type of aphids.
And there is a type of fungus on some of the branches. A problem or not?
The amount of aphids is astonishing, they don’t look like greenflies, must be a different type of aphids. Is there a specific apple aphid? How do I treat a whole huge tree? I can’t possibly spray it, so is there a root soak that would work?
Despite all the apparent issues the apple tree has lots of fruit, I haven’t had any June drop as of yet (yep, I have got that far in educating myself!) – so I will give it a bit more time and then start picking off fruit so the biggest ones can grow healthy. When do you pick off surplus apples if they don’t drop by themselves? Do you go by size or the calendar?
Here is the plumtree in my garden, a healthy size too, although not as big as the apple tree. It is covered in aphids and dripping with honeydew.
The aphids are yet another type – plum aphids?? I tried to hose down the tree with my garden hose set on the jet setting. My water pressure is quite good and on the jet setting I get quite a hard water spurt so I wouldn’t normally use it on any of my plants, but I thought it was worth trying it on the plumtree. The result was one very wet gardener and all the aphids were still there after I was finished. So much for that advice, photo taken after tree and gardener had got dry again.
There are loads of plums, not sure what type but time will tell I guess. No June drop here either so far, so when do you thin out your plum trees?
There are signs of ladybird larvae having arrived on the plumtree, it was a relief to see them as they can eat an astonishing amount of aphids. Perhaps the problem will sort itself out in the end. Perhaps I could carefully transfer a few (hundred) ladybird larva to the apple tree to help out there too, there doesn’t seem to be any there yet.
Speaking of dripping honeydew, have you ever had dripping, sticky water from your plants, especially houseplants? The first time it happened to me I thought I had an aphid infestation in my living room and could not understand why I couldn’t see any aphids. This phenomenon is called guttation and is perfectly normal, sometimes a sign of overwatering or plants being watered at night when they don’t like that – but most of the time it’s just a healthy perspiration, just like you and me do. Freaked me out the first time I saw it! This orchid is a Cambria, a newcomer to my collection this year, it has not got used to my nocturnal life – and subsequent watering regime, it just has to conform like the rest and it will be fine :-)
As for my houseplants, they have a much better life in my new house than in my old one where all my windows had a radiator under it. Here is my living room window, this is my view from the sofa and the garden is right outside. Another top on my wish-list – to be able to see my garden from my living room. The houseplants here have lots of light and only a bit sun in late afternoon in the summer. Perfect for plants. As you can see I have still lots to do here, only one curtain up so far and the two mirrors on the right side have been standing there for weeks. The garden takes priority of course!
Here is the bedroom window, identical to the living room window, with the rest of my houseplants. I usually buy at least one orchid every year and since they are quite happy in my household I am now the owner of 14 orchids of various types, plus a good few other types of houseplants. In my old house they lived a very cramped life, some even had to camp out in my bathroom as I had very little space for them. Here in my new house I have space for many more as you can see :-) Oh, and curtains for my bedroom is coming, soon. I have got blinds installed which I am lowering at night, but somehow curtains haven’t got priority yet. My garden you know…..
And finally, my vase for the ‘In a Vase on a Monday’ is very pink and with all my roses in full flush I had to fill it with roses again. There’s one of the beautiful, unnamed one growing in the apple tree, one of the unnamed from the front garden, one of 'Wildeve' and two of 'Scepter'd Isle'. In addition I have used twigs from the Pink Variegated Willow, Salix integra 'Hakuro Nishiki' as I think they look so beautiful still. They are starting to turn paler and greener and losing the pink colour, but I am so happy I got to see it at this time of year when moving in.
As the title of this post indicate, this is just the first part of a post where I try to describe some of the issues in my new garden, hopefully some of you knowledgeable good people out there will have hints and tips for me to help me on the way. The second part of this post will be part of the End of Month View post on the 30th June and I promise more issues to dig your teeth into :-)
I am linking this post to In a Vase on a Monday with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.
Until next time, take care.