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The Precipitous Bank



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There isn’t a huge difference in terms of plant growth, but it is a bit tidier.

I’ve worked my way across most of the bank taking out decayed foliage, trimming off tatty fern fronds and ‘combing’ the evergreen grasses. There’s still a huge amount of weeding left to do. But at least now I have a better chance of spotting, rather than treading upon, the perennials when they do start to come up.

Perhaps the most radical change has occurred in the near foreground of the shot. The shrub at bottom right in January is (was) a pyracantha. From this angle less than half of the massively sprawling and overgrown shrub is shown.

It started out as ‘a bit of a tidy up’, but don’t you know how these things go. It soon became abundantly clear that a light trim just wasn’t going to hack it. The shrub was leaning forward leaving a cavernous space at the rear. Time for the loppers to be retrieved from the shed.

The pyracantha may beg to differ, but what has emerged from the thorny tangle of branches is a rather pleasant surprise.


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I didn’t give it a second look last year but with new found space and light another shrub has risen to the fore. Miraculously it has even managed to maintain an elegant shape, contouring the line of the hand rail.


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The question is, what is it?

A hydrangea? For memory it bloomed rather early, in Spring last year.

Maybe Viburnum opulus, the guelder rose? I don’t remember seeing any berries.

When the leaves start to appear the truth will out.


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Hellebores (l to r: ‘Double Yellow Speckled’, ‘Penny’s Pink’, ‘Anja Oudolf’)


The path runs below the front face of the bank, giving the viewer a unique perspective. Much of the planting is at eye level, or above. And so, if one has to garden upon a slope, why not make best use of it? I’ve planted out the hellebores acquired over the last couple of months in a good position to look up into the blooms.

They are above the pheasant’s eye view as well. This is important as Mr P has already had all the flower buds off a gorgeous white form that I stupidly planted at ground level last year.


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Galanthus nivalis

A recent relocation from the woodland, with luck they’ll spread down the slope and give me a beautiful close quarter display without the need to bend down.


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Pulmonaria & Narcissus ‘February Gold’


The pulmonaria are inherited and grow in a drift from top to bottom of the slope. Perfectly happy in shade, they date back to the time the bank was home to a stand of enormous coniferous trees and little else. They seem to do even better with the benefit of light.


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With tatty fronds removed, ferns stand ready to unfurl their glorious fiddleheads.

Once regrown they will help to hide my nemesis, the detested chicken wire that covers the face of the bank.

Spring is coming, there’s no doubt about that.





whichever way you look at it..

my chances of flowers on the pyracantha this year are..

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Linking up with Helen’s End Of Month View (here) at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to find out what other gardeners are up to this month.