In The Absence Of Flowers.. Wing It


The bank 012 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=


The Precipitous Bank at the end of March


It doesn’t look much different from last month if I’m honest.

The hellebores are still out.

And there’s a nice carpet of muscari and primroses appearing underneath one of the Cornus trees.


Muscari 003 Wm[2]


Plans. That’s what we’ll talk about. Yes it is.

Last year I declared that in Spring I would dig up the whole of the top terraced bed and replant it. And that’s still what I intend to do. I was waiting for the Lily of the Valley, whose bid for world domination sparked the need for the exercise in the first place, to poke up their ever multiplying shoots.


Lily of the Valley 003 Wm[1]


That’ll be now then..


But there’s a pay off for the Precipitous Bank too.

Lily of the Valley forms a spreading, thick mat of roots and they are just what I need to help stabilise the soil on the steepest part of the slope. They’ll look good there too, layered at the different levels. And what better than to have such a heady fragrance just at nose height.


Fern 007 Wm[1]


Ferns are starting to unfurl


Also in the terraces there are large clumps of geum ready to divide, some of which will make the short journey eastwards and help to populate the lower part of the hill.

I’ve invested in a cuttings propagator and have been searching the internet for an app or some software that I can use to put together a proper garden design. Previous plots have tended to grow piecemeal, mainly on the back of impulse buys. It would be a good thing to look at this larger expanse of space more professionally. To plan what goes where and purchase accordingly. Does anyone know of a design package, tens of pounds rather than hundreds?

In the meantime I’ve been busy sowing seed, cosmos and rudbeckia in the greenhouse, Californian poppy and cornflower seeds spread liberally across the ground. Although given the strength of the wind last night and today, the latter may well be happily germinating on the other side of the county by now.


Enkianthus 004 Wm[1]


 New leaves are starting to appear



It’s a challenge gardening here, as I’ve rattled on about on more than one occasion. But perhaps what I have learned, taking on board something Monty said on Gardeners’ World last week, is that a healthy plant defends itself better against being eaten. This year I will spend more time on feeding, looking after the plants I have, and on protection.

Definitely protection. I lost all the flower spikes on an epimedium last night. About eight shoots in all. They were nipped straight off and yet the plant was left slimy. Slugs? Mice or squirrels?



Mesh 004 Wm[1]


The pheasant defence system, currently deployed over a patch of anemones.


Mr & Mrs P have both been around this weekend, albeit separately. I hope there hasn’t been a falling out. I was looking forward to the pitter patter of little pheasanty feet. Even if that does mean more hungry beaks. Don’t let’s even think about that.


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.


2017-10-24T19:32:48+00:00March 31st, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Ann March 31, 2015 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Hi I have just found you and look forward to following you blog, I live in South Cumbria

    • Jessica March 31, 2015 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Ann, thanks and welcome to rusty duck!
      You live in a beautiful part of the world.

  2. Helen Johnstone March 31, 2015 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica
    I don’t get slug damage in epimediums so I reckon it’s your feathered friends. I did chuckle at your comment about your seeds germinating far away, very windy and gusty here, wish it would stop. I am focussing on gardening better this year too, looking after my plants better. Thanks for joining in

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:22 am - Reply

      I spend far too much money replacing plants. A few tubs of chicken manure will be a lot cheaper and more satisfying if it works.

  3. The Middlesized Garden March 31, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    I agree that there doesn’t seem a huge difference between March and February this year. My primroses (lovely creamy ones, not too bright) have rescued the garden and the leucojum have been sparkling since January, but the trees do seem very bare.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:28 am - Reply

      We’re just starting to notice leaf buds swelling on the trees now, hopefully not too long. There have been some cold nights here for March. Perhaps that’s why.

  4. Sue Garrett March 31, 2015 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    Lily of the Valley just won’t flower in our garden. Our garden tends to involve rather than being planned on paper it’s sort of planning on the hoof but then again it is nothing like the size of yours.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:32 am - Reply

      That’s exactly the way I’ve worked up to now. I quite enjoy doing it that way too. With the bank though I want to plant it up more quickly. The longer I leave big areas of soil bare the more I’ll struggle keeping up with the weeds.

  5. ontheedgegardening March 31, 2015 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    I read this and the first thing I think is “enkianthus, what a lucky person!” Upwards and onwards 🙂

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Hi Gill and welcome to rusty duck!
      First day here, maybe second, I went out and bought a soil testing kit. I was overjoyed when it came out on the acid side. I’m growing things that I could only dream about before.

  6. SeagullSuzie March 31, 2015 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I’m just about to post a few pics of my new garden, it’s tiny but has potential and I’m full of ideas right now. Sorry don’t know any garden design apps. Hope the pheasants make up, as you seem to have the defenses all in order.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Loved seeing the photos of your new garden. It looks to have so many nice things in it already, you’ll have such fun tweaking it to get it exactly as you want it.

  7. Christina March 31, 2015 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    Dear Jessica, there might be not too much change from last month to this one, but I think your slope looks great. All the tidying up that you have done earlier pays off. The photo of the muscari with the primroses melts my heart, it is sooo… beautiful.
    Your idea to transplant the Lilly of the Valley from the terraced bed into the slope is a great one, it will look wonderful when all these white flowers appear on the slope and that they will keep the root there in place will be a great added bonus, much better than the chicken wire ;-)!
    Living in a rural area is lovely, but I can imagine that you have your extra challenges to protect your plants from wild life. I mostly have to deal with snails and slugs and the occasional grasshopper and visit of a raccoon, but that is already enough…
    Warm regards,

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Yes, getting rid of the chicken wire will be really good if I can achieve it. It’s going to be a huge job transplanting all the Lily of the Valley, not one I’m looking forward to at all. But it will be worth it I think!
      Raccoons do a lot of damage, as I’ve learned from Kris, I don’t envy you those at all.

  8. Mark and Gaz March 31, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Lots of plans in mind Jessica, looking forward to seeing your progress! Cross fingers it will be another good gardening year 🙂

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:48 am - Reply

      I do hope it will be another good year, for all of us. The first day of April it all looks so full of promise, especially as it’s all still to come!

  9. Sue March 31, 2015 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    It’s nice to see everything starting to wake up isn’t it.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:49 am - Reply

      It is, my favourite time of year. Wish we could slow down the clocks for a few months now.

  10. CJ March 31, 2015 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Love the shot of the Enkianthus, gorgeous. It’s hard to protect against all the pests isn’t it. Something has eaten the tops of all of my onions already. Last year whatever it was (rabbits?) moved on to the strawberry leaves as soon as they appeared as well. Literally everything was eaten for the first few weeks of the season.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:54 am - Reply

      It is soul destroying when you’ve worked so hard. I suppose wherever there is a concentration of good things to eat, be it a woodland clearing or an allotment, animals will move in.

  11. Jennifer March 31, 2015 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    I love lily of the valley, I can’t wait to see yours in bloom. It looks like a nice dense clump. I have a squirrel here eating all of my tulips as soon as they bloom. I’ve even seen him carrying a tulip bulb off somewhere, he must have dug it up. 🙁

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Squirrels are little devils for attacking tulips. I don’t grow them so much anymore as quite often they are just snapped off and left on the ground, the pheasant’s usual trick. That’s what upsets me most, they are not even needed for food.

  12. Lea March 31, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Love all the little shoots and buds appearing!
    Happy Gardening!

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      It’s great to see Spring return isn’t it. Now we just need a few sunny days and I can get back out there!

  13. frayed at the edge March 31, 2015 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    I love the scent of Lily of the Valley, although it was one of my Mum’s superstitions and she wouldn’t have it in the house (no peacock feathers either!) We have had snow showers verging on blizzards all day, so no gardening here!

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      I’m on the M5 and it’s pouring down. Rain though, not snow. A good day to have been away from the garden.

  14. angiesgardendiaries March 31, 2015 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Your post just reminded me that I need to check round the side for Lily of the Valley shoots – they are the bane of my life! Why oh why do they have to be so happy here? Enough of my gripes!
    The slope looks great and I do feel for you loosing so many blooms. I’d be tearing my hair out by now. The muscari and Primula are a real welcoming sight Jessica, they make a lovely combination. I must check on my Enkianthus tomorrow. I’m not sure I noticed any buds.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      When Lily of the Valley gets into its stride you certainly know it! I only hope it takes to life on a slope, if it does it can spread to its heart’s content. Well, almost.

  15. Cheryl West March 31, 2015 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    This morning with warm sun is the first I could be out without a coat. Bliss! It finally feels like spring. There is so much clearing up to do and we still have some snow to melt here in Connecticut but there is hope that winter has finally lost it’s grip. Lily of the valley is quite a force to deal with. Ours has spread a lot and trying to get it out of the walk takes brute strength. It will be a solution on your bank though and the fragrance is heavenly.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      I’m glad to hear that winter is on the way out at last. What a long hard season it has been for you. If the Lily of the Valley works it will be a great solution. Save a lot of weeding too and on the steepest part of the bank that will be very welcome!

  16. Rosemary March 31, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I love seeing these odd shapes popping out of the ground, and every year I marvel at the newly unfurling ferns in particular.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      I love the ferns at this stage. The big shuttlecocks are still tightly coiled, but it won’t be long I’m sure.

  17. Denise March 31, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I was thinking only a couple of days ago that Spring seems a little tardy this year – only just starting to get the pinkness on the tips of the magnolia in the front garden and I am sure that this time last year it was in full bloom.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:25 pm - Reply

      Many people are saying the same. It’s been quite cool though, unless that’s just me being short of a radiator or two!

  18. Brian Skeys March 31, 2015 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    It sounds as if April is going to be a busy time for you Jessica. Lilly of the Valley are like a lot of plants wonderful in the right place, an invasive ‘weed’ in the wrong place. Happy Easter (Digging).

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      It’s probably the busiest month isn’t it. I just hope we get enough decent weather to be able to get it all done. Happy Easter to you too.

  19. downbytheseadorset.blogspot,co,uk March 31, 2015 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    in our new garden we are trying to use groups of the same plants to create a bigger impact. The problem is that so easy to be tempted by another plant! Hope the wind hasn’t been too bad for you. It sounded as if we were just about to be blown away last night. Sarah x

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      There were a few small branches down, but nothing too bad as far as I can see. On the bank I must do the same, plant in threes at least to get more impact especially as it is viewed from a distance.

  20. Amy at love made my home March 31, 2015 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Lots of signs of things to come! xx

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Exciting times! I’m looking forward to seeing how the terraces turn out too, after all the shifting around I did last year.

  21. Chel @ Sweetbriar Dreams March 31, 2015 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    I am imagining the lily of the valley and their delicate little flowers amongst your problem bed. I think it will knit together perfectly and hopefully there will be so much that the little critters will get bored of it. Have a wonderful Easter x

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:53 pm - Reply

      Part of the reason the Lily of the Valley thrives, I’m sure, is that nothing seems to want to eat it! Perhaps that’s what I need to do, find things that taste bad. My range might be restricted though!

  22. sustainablemum March 31, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Sometimes those subtle changes are the best ones. That is sound advice from Monty Don, something I have been thinking about more as a gardener of late. I had hoped to be out sowing seeds today and then we had 50 mile an hour winds and snow so I headed back inside………….

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      It’s not much better today, now we have rain. I’m itching to get out and do stuff now. The greenhouse is acquiring a collection of purchases and I can hardly move about in there. Need to get it in the ground.

  23. Freda March 31, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Gales, snow flurries and hailstones here! But the propagator in full and the primroses lovely.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      We’ve had it all this week.. give me sunshine!

  24. Janet/Plantaliscious March 31, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Your lily of the valley plan sounds excellent, and hopefully not all your seeds have switched county!! A challenging space to plan, but sorry, I’ve never found software that I’d recommend to anybody for such a task. Happy planning!

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      It’s windy again tonight… I hope some of my seeds are still there. I have some left. Another distribution tomorrow might be prudent!

  25. Linda aka Crafty Gardener March 31, 2015 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    Lovely seeing the spring blooms on your precipitous slope. I’m sure there are many challenges to gardening there, but you will win out in the end.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      I hope so Linda. If persistence really does pay off, we will win.

  26. CherryPie April 1, 2015 at 12:01 am - Reply

    It sounds like you have it perfectly planned… Until Mother Nature had a different idea…

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Weather and critters. That’s what defeats me. Hey Ho.

  27. Dorothy @ The Nature of Things April 1, 2015 at 1:14 am - Reply

    So much promise on your precipitous slope. I understand that it must be a challenge to garden on such a site, but I’ve no doubt that you are up to the challenge. And here’s hoping for a nice clutch of little pheasants in your future.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      The first year we were here I was walking up on the bank and I disturbed a clutch of baby pheasants with their Mum. They could only have been a few days old, really tiny and very fluffy. I hunkered down behind a shrub and counted ten of them, so cute. Want more!

  28. Beth @ PlantPostings April 1, 2015 at 4:47 am - Reply

    Oh, I will have to check my Epimediums! I just remembered I added a new one this year, so I hope it made it through the winter. I have Lilies of the Valley, too, but they usually don’t bloom until May. It looks like everything in your garden is just about to explode with beauty–so next month will look entirely different. Enjoy the excitement!

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      I think you’re right, next month will look very different. I had exactly the same experience last year, end of March still felt like winter and then everything broke loose in April.

  29. Kris P April 1, 2015 at 5:14 am - Reply

    That area is just loaded with potential! However, even I, from a vast distance away, find the tasks ahead daunting, but I’m hoping you’ll write the book on how to conquer a vicious slope and I can simply follow your guidance when I decide it’s time to do more with mine. Have you purchased those crampons yet?

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      No crampons (yet). But I think I am rapidly evolving into something akin to a mountain goat. Balance has improved no end!

  30. Sigrun April 1, 2015 at 6:29 am - Reply

    Oh my goodness, a defence system, poor girl. We had snow this night, and storm since days. My garden ist like a pool – wet wet wet. I miss some Brunneras, some years it was the same, no cold winter, but all green brunneras (not the silver one) and Verbena bonariensis are gone. Very irritating.


    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      I think my V. bonariensis has gone too. You’re right, it can’t be the cold, this winter has been relatively mild as a whole, it must be the wet.

  31. Chloris April 1, 2015 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Things are really getting going in your garden despite the wild life. Mr and Mrs Pheasant both always appear in my garden at this time of year and patrol up and down, peering in the window and pulling the heads of flowers when they get bored. What a shame about your epimediums.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      He had them last year too I think. Lessons learned, not. But what can I do? A garden completely covered in chicken wire isn’t pretty is it.

  32. Pauline April 1, 2015 at 11:32 am - Reply

    My pheasant is attacking the primroses and daffodils now, a chunk out here and there!
    I wish I could grow Lily of the Valley, but I managed to kill mine a couple of times, why won’t it grow for me?!
    Everything is growing so quickly now, I can hardly keep pace with it all, but it is such a lovely time of year.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Oh no! But are the fritillaries OK? Did the rusty pheasant work? I do so love to see Ptolemy grazing on the lawn, but they are definitely a mixed blessing.

  33. hoehoegrow April 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    I hadn’t realised quite how challenging your garden is , Jessica, and quite what a slope you have to cope with. I think I’d be out there with ropes and crampons !! Pheasants can be a problem, as I am well aware of, as we have our own to contend with. We have also had to contend with a neighbour’s small, sweet, but voracious bantams who have a liking for all new growth ! Thankfully they are now safely penned up and the difference in the garden is clearly visible.
    Lily of the Valleys seem wildly exotic to me as I cannot get ONE to grow! The thought of having matted roots is incomprehensible ! Your challenging conditions certainly do have advantages!

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      It is swings and roundabouts for sure. Lily of the Valley, yes. But so many other things, no. I’ve often thought about getting chickens, ducks or geese. They’d help me out with the slugs, but they do like veggies with their meat I’m told.

  34. Jo April 1, 2015 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    You do like to set yourself a challenge…looking forward to the pitter patter of little pheasanty feet. I’d have thought you’d got enough feet of the wildlife variety in your garden with all the blooms which go missing. The bank must look so pretty when the Lily of the Valley’s in flower. I’ve got a bit in my garden but it doesn’t spread at all, it can’t be very happy where it is, but at least the bit I do have keeps coming back each year.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      Yes, rather too many feet. I’m thinking of getting one of those wildlife field cameras.. just to see whose feet they actually are.

  35. Christina April 1, 2015 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    I think you might be better using paper and pencil for your design, especially on a very sloping site. Draw the space filled with the plants at 2/3 or 3/4 final size and fill in the gaps in between with things like your Lily of the Valle, they will hold the soil while your other plants spread and grow. Work out what plants you need with the numbers of each and then just but those – easy! I’m kidding of course but it should help. All gardeners will always want to buy other plants it’s in our genes.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      I have a sort of plan in my head. The trick I think will be to buy more of each variety than I have done in the past, to build drifts and create more impact. It’s so easy to impulse buy, especially walking around plant fairs. But there are areas close to the path where such little gems can be appreciated up close. And long may it continue.

  36. Julieanne April 1, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    That’s a good idea of making the Lily of the Valley do their thing to help stabilise the border soil. Very permaculture: the problem is the solution 🙂

    March has been slow in my garden, but like you I’ve got lots poking their heads up at the end of the month. I love the unfurling ferns, they look so elegant.

    For a garden design package, I use Shoot Gardening premium package which is £36 a year. I used it to decide on the layout of my back garden and to keep track of all the plants I have and where I’ve placed them (see in post: It also sends you monthly instructions of what needs doing where depending on the plants in your plant list. You can try it for free to start with.

    ‘Little pheasanty feet’ – that cracked me up.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      I will be checking out Shoot Gardening, thanks for both of the links. It all sounds very organised, which is what I need if I’m honest. March has been slow, hopefully with a bit of warmer weather April will feel more like Spring.

  37. Linda April 1, 2015 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    I love the name Precipitous Bank, though I think you should go all Shakespeare and call it “Banke.” My bank is a blah space at the moment and much less steep than yours as you can see in my EOMV. I also think pencil and paper and a look back at soom of your favorite gardens you’ve visited will do the trick. Think contrast; some dramatic plants and shrubs to fill space and be visible from a distance. You other plant combos show you have the skill to do it.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      Being visible from a distance is so important here, because the most impactful view of this area is from the bottom of the bank. Access is just too difficult otherwise. I like contrast, colour texture and form. The bank gives plenty of opportunity doesn’t it?

  38. Cathy April 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Mr and Mrs P clearly dine at the best of restaurants….

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      I wish they’d read the Good Food Guide and spread themselves around a bit.

  39. Amy April 1, 2015 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I confess to being furtively relieved to see from comments that others have had difficulties with Lily-of-the-Valley! When I saw your pictures of it in full imperialistic mode, it reminded me how badly it grew for me in the Midwest – I was always disappointed as that is among my three or four favourite flower scents – not to mention the fact that I haven’t got a chance of growing it here! Putting it on the bank sounds like the perfect answer in your case. Especially as it is toxic and therefore not likely to be eaten by Mr. or Mrs. P….

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Now that is interesting. I didn’t realise it was toxic and it explains how the plants have remained un-nibbled thus far. I wish it bloomed all year. I could have a garden that was Lily of the Valley and nothing else.

  40. Sarah April 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I can’t grow Lily of the Valley here either. I agree that when it comes to garden design you cannot beat paper and pencil and a rubber. On a large and challenging site such as yours Jessica, less is more, so try (if you can) to restrict yourself to plants that you know will do well on your soil and in your conditions. It sounds so easy doesn’t it but I know it isn’t, especially as it is in our nature to be be experimental. I still think your garden/woodland clearing is beautiful. Good luck with transplanting the Lily of the Valley, that looks to be quite a task.

    • Jessica April 1, 2015 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      It will be quite a task but worth it if I can make it work. It is all experimental at the moment, finding things that will grow well here. But once I find them, large drifts of those plants will be the way to go. I also want to reduce maintenance as much as I can, I am just not keeping up at the moment.

  41. Jayne Hill April 2, 2015 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I shall go against the grain (nothing new there then) and suggest the very best “design package” is a large pad of paper, a packet of coloured pencils, a mug of tea and a packet of McVities Digestive …. oh yes, and time, (sheets of tracing paper over a plan of your basic structure can be useful too).

    Although Bag End is smaller, and I suspect much simpler, than Duck Towers, we have put it together ‘piecemeal’ and I think it is better for it. Elements which we are now extremely happy with were not on the original list of things we might do. I don’t believe, and never have done, that you can design a garden in one go. The best gardens develop naturally, over time.

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      I think it will be a combination of both. A master plan which I can tweak at will. Being a woman I am at liberty to change my mind, which I do frequently. Not least after a trip to a nursery.

  42. Anny April 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    The Delinquent Dog and I have seen a pheasant on our daily walks recently – always in the same place, very close to a tiny woodland house – I always think of you when we spot him!

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      They are extremely territorial and he has no doubt requisitioned that beautiful spot as his own. Be careful, they repel all boarders, delinquent dogs included. I have seen ours chase the post van off down the road.

  43. Island Threads April 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Jessica I only started to enjoy dividing plants a few years ago and love it as it is so rewarding to have virtually (except for a bit of time and stamina) free, I think the new home for the lily of the valley is a great idea, maybe the steep slope is a place where you can enjoy A. mollis and Mike won’t mind, the leaves would contrast well with Lily of the valley,
    I can’t help with the design programme, I use paper and pencil, sometimes squared paper and sometimes coloured pencils, it is a good idea to plan though, a change in the planning stage takes but a moment or two but in the garden it can take a day or two, good luck, Frances

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      I could see an opportunity for sneaking in some A. mollis. I have a secret patch of it which is doing well, so perhaps a few small divisions left to quietly seed themselves in between the grasses?

  44. suefrombrampton April 2, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    I’ve had a similar problem to you and your vanishing epimedium flowers. Last autumn I planted a lot of white Scilla siberica ,thinking they woukd make a nice change from the ubiquitous blue. Something (I suspect feathered or small and furry) has nipped every flower bud off and kindly left the stalks.Grrr!

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:22 pm - Reply

      It’s so frustrating. I still have mice in the greenhouse, despite our best efforts. I bought some blue anemones and put them in there temporarily prior to planting. They have suffered a similar fate.

  45. lowcarbdiabeticJan April 2, 2015 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    I think it’s so true for plants …….. ” a healthy plant defends itself better against being eaten.”.

    All the best Jan

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      I hope it works, I have to do something to tip the balance back in my favour. And for the sake of the plants!

  46. mattb325 April 3, 2015 at 2:37 am - Reply

    I do sympathise with the difficulties of slope gardening – in many areas of my yard, I have had to leave clumps of overgrown agapanthus in place to stope the hills sliding away before the new plants establish themselves. But, once the new plants are away, at least it gives me the excuse to rip out the remaining agapanthus and get more plants 🙂

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      Gardening on a hill isn’t all bad, layers of perennials cascading down a slope can look spectacular. But getting them established in the first place is a challenge. I also need ground cover as the slope is difficult to access for weeding. Hopefully the Lily of the Valley will do it for me on both counts.
      Swathes of agapanthus would look stunning, a plant that borders on tender here.

  47. Linda April 3, 2015 at 2:38 am - Reply

    Happy Easter to you Jessica….enjoy!
    Linda :o)

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      A rainy start but hopefully it will improve over the weekend. I’m banking on it, much to do outside!

  48. Linda P April 3, 2015 at 9:24 am - Reply

    I’ve enjoyed your gardening report for March. I did ‘a double take’ when I started reading the sentence starting “Mr. and Mrs. P.” and then had to smile. No, it wasn’t about hubby and I! I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend whatever you’re doing.

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      Ha! No, our Mr & Mrs P aren’t nearly as well behaved! I hope to get some time outside if and when the weather improves, Happy Easter to you both.

  49. Ronnie@Hurtledto60 April 3, 2015 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    It’s all looking very good! I planted some lily of the valley and am hoping they will make a good show this year. No where near the number you have they must look glorious when fully out.

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:50 pm - Reply

      Part of the problem is that they’re currently scattered through the top terrace bed, so an ‘en masse’ effect isn’t really there. When I move them I shall try to consolidate them a little better and hopefully create more impact. I hope yours establish too, if they are happy they will quickly multiply. You’ll be pulling them out by the handful in a year or two!

  50. woolythymes April 3, 2015 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    am i the only person in the world who has killed off lily of the valley? desperately want to try again.

    • Jessica April 3, 2015 at 11:52 pm - Reply

      I wish I could send you some. Plenty enough to share!

  51. bittster April 4, 2015 at 5:09 am - Reply

    I never knew pheasants could be such attractive pests. I’m glad they haven’t found my garden yet, that’s all I need!
    your lotv shoots look extremely promising!

    • Jessica April 4, 2015 at 8:28 am - Reply

      Hello bittster and welcome to rusty duck!
      They are indeed majestic birds. But they have a taste for the most expensive plants in the garden.. hellebores, epimedium, trillium.. and most annoyingly often just nip the flowers off and leave them on the ground. If only they could learn to love the Spanish bluebells that I am trying so hard to eradicate. But nothing, it seems, likes those.

  52. emilymbrown13 April 4, 2015 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    If you find a good design app please share I have been looking (half heartedly, it’s true) and have only found awful ones! good luck with the protection systems.

    • Jessica April 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Will do. It seems to me they are either very basic (cheap or free) or high end. I was looking for something in the middle. Have yet to check out Julieanne’s suggestion.. see above.

  53. Indie April 5, 2015 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Hopefully the pheasants have already started their nest, and so are dividing their time between sitting on eggs and foraging! I am not the greatest at large garden planning either. I usually try to just make areas based on color – pastels in the front, hot colors in the back, one garden is blue and gold. I am trying to force myself to think about the ‘bones’ and shapes of the garden, with planting trees and shrubs. My true interest is in all the blooms, though 🙂 It’s so great to see those signs of spring, and all the bulbs coming up. Happy Easter!

    • Jessica April 6, 2015 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      I hope you’re right, although I caught the male in the middle of my borders this evening so possibly he could do with devoting a little more time to the nest. Having taken on a very overgrown and dilapidated garden the problem here is carving out enough space for new planting. I would love a clean slate and be able to plan the structure from scratch.

  54. casa mariposa April 5, 2015 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    That slope does look challenging. Have you considered terracing it a bit to help with erosion? The low growing, arching shrub stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’ would work well there. It has beautiful foliage and flowers.

    • Jessica April 6, 2015 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Tammy. The bank used to be covered with tall conifers which we felled a couple of years ago for the sake of the house! It means that the slope is still riddled with ginormous roots, I struggle to find planting pockets sometimes but any serious landscaping would be a real challenge.
      I looked up the stephanandra, it does look good. Partial shade too which would be important here.

  55. debsgarden April 6, 2015 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Lily of the Valley cascading down a hillside sounds divine! Your property is very special. Yes, a professional type design sounds wonderful, but I suspect your land may not always conform to proper design but will tell you emphatically what it prefers to do!

    • Jessica April 6, 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      That is a good point. I use a software package for interior design and it assumes that walls and floors are always straight.. in an older house the reality is somewhat different!

  56. snowbird April 6, 2015 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    I love lily of the valley, I do hope it does the job for you! I shall look forward to hearing your plans….you certainly have a challenging garden to work with! I hope you had a lovely Easter!xxx

    • Jessica April 6, 2015 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      It is definitely a challenge. More than I reckoned with when I took it on if I’m honest. But we’ve had a productive weekend so onwards and upwards. I hope yours was more relaxing!

  57. John April 6, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    So has the ‘Rusty’ always been rusty on Rusty Duck? Nice design element that somehow I missed until now. Somehow the design elements on your bank will take a little longer to realize. But the fundamental beauty of your property will make it all worthwhile…

    • Jessica April 7, 2015 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      The rusty colour is a relatively recent addition, from the last time I fiddled with the theme! Thanks John.

  58. Anna April 6, 2015 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Hope that all those would be seedlings survived the mad March winds in situ and are now happily germinating away in this beautiful April weather Jessica.

    • Jessica April 7, 2015 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      No sign so far.. think I might top them up a bit, just in case!

  59. Yvone Ryan April 7, 2015 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Hi – I don’t think I have seen lily-of-the-valley since living in Christchurch. I live just north of Auckland, NZ, in Whangapararoa Pensular, semi subtropical, no frosts, been a very dry hot summer. Yum for swimming and soaking up the heat but gardens needing lots of water – expensive. On a acre of sloping clay. I have been collecting coffee grounds from local ‘Local” cafe (we are avid coffee drinkers in NZ) and seems to be working helping break down the clay. Despite having lots of tropical palms etc I still love cold weather plants, bulbs etc. Peonies a favorite but resort to buying a big bunch for my November birthday. some people resort to putting ice cubes over the plants but think that’s silliy. Like English try to grow succulents etc or put plants away in glasshouses or garages to over winter. I think better to put energy in what grows easily in your own conditions – and they do much better as well. Where are you situated so I can visualise? Enjoy your spring. I am still in shorts and swimming – long hot summer – not looking forward to winter but still not cold up here.

    • Jessica April 7, 2015 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Yvone and welcome to rusty duck!
      I would agree that it’s a lot less labour intensive to go with the conditions you have. Your climate sounds wonderful though, apart from the lack of rain, I would happily go with that! We’re in Devon, south west England. One of the milder parts of the UK but still with frost in winter.

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