A beautiful sky on the first of May.
Many days were nipped by the cold easterly and northerly winds this month. Early on the plants were visibly knocked back and it was sad to see that despite having been laden with blossom, only a couple of tiny St Cecilia apple fruits have survived the blasts.
The Pig Aderyn tree (right next to the St Cecilia), fared even less well. Not a single fruit has emerged and all leaves on the new growth have been blighted with aphids. I found a solitary ladybird and some ants and hope that they will fill their boots with the sap sucking blighters. Fortunately, as this is an espalier tree, all damaged leaves will be removed later and not damage the tree. I’m unlikely to be able to use the leaves (as I had originally intended), in paper making trials. Far too sticky and decidedly distasteful.
The espalier trees have a once white painted wall behind them, so that although they might be in the line of our main winds, they are generally well sheltered. The Trwyn Mochyn (cooker and cider), apple is not espaliered and grows nearby. It appears to have managed to survive pretty much unscathed. It has so many little apple clusters that I have had to look up the RHS website regarding thinning.
This will help to produce fewer but stronger fruit – for the squirrels? I’ve no idea how to protect this little tree. I’m trying to shape the branches into a bower under which we can have a bench, the branches appear to grow downwards quite naturally. As there were enough pollinators to satisfy this tree, my concerns about a lack of pollinators for the other two trees is probably unfounded.
Damage was also observed on the potted mulberry saplings, holly hock and one or two other plants. Definitely molluscs. These are mostly in areas which have not been treated with nematodes to discourage their presence. It is an expensive method of keeping molluscs at bay, but sometimes this is the only earth friendly way of getting plants through the early stages of their growth.
More pause points are needed around the garden to encourage rest, mindfulness, observation and recuperation, rather than allowing myself to try to deal with everything all at once. The resulting exhaustion is pointless, it only creates greater frustration and I am already fully aware of my work limitations. Whilst not wild, this is a naturalised environment, it has a will of its own. The list of things to do to take care of it will always be never ending, yet another challenge for the impatience button. A little bench constructed from old bricks and a plank will always be welcome.
Winds might have been partly to blame for the damage inflicted upon the rhododendron. Usually so vigorous in appearance, it now has two or three brittle branches flipped back upon themselves along the ground and is looking jaded with discoloured and faded blooms having served their purpose. The winds have widened the gap at a weak point. It’s also possible that the masses of blooms (the size of shop bought posies), provided additional wind surface area and weight helping the wind to widen the gap.
Small lilac and camelia blossoms appeared early on but looked tired quite soon, possibly nipped in their buds by the cold air. On the ground aquilegia, foxgloves, dandelion and so many other flowers flared open invitations to flying insects.
In the greenhouse, one of the two catnip plants (kept away from visiting cats or they’d flatten them), is bursting with confidence, alongside four very fragrant geraniums.
Despite their untidy appearance, mature, collapsing borage plants are allowed to remain in position as the bees adore them. Seedlings (including those of other pollination friendly plants), are carefully dug out of crevices and transferred to share the joy in other parts of the garden. My hands dread digging out holes to put them in. For every small planting, there will be at least a bucket of stones which will need to be redistributed elsewhere in the garden.
Moving from one aspect of practice to another can often be hampered by the simplest annoyance. Although hands may be plastered with moisturiser prior to putting on gloves, hand skin dries very quickly in this unfriendly shale soil (especially if it is wet). This means that my hands are often too rough to work with my choice of indoor materials. It is particularly frustrating if I have intended to work with fabric, this cannot be achieved with fibres constantly snagging, tatty fingertips.
Old bamboo canes are a particular nuisance at present. As they break and split, their fine (and often lengthy), splinters can enter the skin and cause much discomfort, pain and harm. Much care is needed to avoid this.
Safety in the garden can easily be overlooked, but I wonder who left the rake like this or on the floor inviting a footfall (and on several other occasions too), when they always chide me for my sink dish balancing acts!
There has been much planting. I don’t consider myself to be very good with seeds, although I have always described myself as a cracking emergency gardener. I have got away with moving mature plants under conditions when it should not have been possible.
Freshly cleared ground with carefully positioned plants have required protection not only from the weather but also from at least one unidentified cat. Thank goodness we have so many flat stones to place over clean turned soil, to put off digging paws.
Locally available varieties being poor, seedlings for broccoli, lavender and sweet peas (I’ve had three successive disastrous years with these seeds), arrived by post. The broccoli is doing well with plenty of spare to pass on to friends, however a third of the lavender and half of the sweet peas perished before the end of their first week. In their packs they had looked as if they’d had a growth spurt, almost etiolated, but as all were treated in the same manner, I’ve no idea what caused the problem.
The seeds which I have planted this year are doing better than expected. Twigs have had to be taken out of my ‘practice bag of materials’ (the dumpy bag), for the construction of rather disfigured pot forests. They help to keep out cats and provide early growth support.
I’ve noticed that my rough pencil written notes (which help me to write these jottings), are often difficult to decipher as they have been so hurriedly scrawled. My excuse is that I was not taught a style of writing and so am embarrassed by my script on many an occasion. It also changes according to the state of my hands. Perhaps I might find the time to create a better method, unlikely at the moment though as there’s always something else which has priority.
The month ended with the Chelsea Flower Show, that place to, “go and be seen”. Would I want to visit? I love looking at all the gardens on the television, but usually with the sound turned off and all the people … No, I don’t think I’d like it. At least some of the gardens are now being designed sustainably, to help people and being given to supportive organisations. Far preferable to being created to boast about one’s access to wealth.
Far better to treasure my mixed bunch of happy (and aiming for happy), garden travellers.
Luscious growth in an old cistern. Lysh.
Funny looking bunny!