There was some final pruning to be done. In the half-moon shrub borders was a mixture of ‘3D’ – dead, diseased and damaged – material to gladden the heart of anyone who’s ever consulted a pruning manual. The shrubs themselves are a mixture of Chaemomeles, flowering cherries, roses and Spirea – all of which had been given the ‘haircut’ treatment with a hedge-trimmer for what must have been, I reckon, the past 3 or 4 years at the very least. There was a considerable layer of twiggage suspended at head-height in several of the denser shrubs, where it had been cut and left hanging – rather than tidied away – by the previous incumbent. Taking a ‘thin by a third’ approach, some shrubs held up well enough, but a couple were completely dead to the root; and others had scarcely any viable shoots left. Anyway, they look more cared for now, and have been given a good feed with Vitax Q4, so we will see.
There is certainly more light now that the densest growth has been thinned out. The only drawback seems to be that, whereas the thickest shrubs were previously good for skulking birds such as wrens and dunnocks, these have lost a hideout – and a staging-post en route to the feeders – for the moment. On the other hand, the large pile of prunings, awaiting another bonfire, is constantly picked through by blackbirds and robins in search of its remaining insect inhabitants. I hope I can get it burned before they start thinking of nesting in there too.
This week the builder arrives to start work on restoring the garden’s brick walls, which are in dire need of attention. A few perennials – mostly Helleborus – were moveable, and dug up to take their chances elsewhere while the border at the wall’s foot becomes a building site for a few weeks. Once the work is done that border can be properly replanted.
A few bare root perennials were also added to the long ‘downhill’ border. I cannot claim that this planting has been ‘designed’ in any but the most rudimentary fashion – not least as it will need to be dug-up and transplanted next spring when the second phase of wall repair begins. But for this season, a variety of flowering perennials ought to bring some colour – Eryngium, Lupins, Delphiniums, Aquilegia, Alcea and others. Even the presence of plant labels, with their promise of growth to come, gives things a more cultivated look.