Signs of Spring

 

It’s taken a little while to get my head around being back in the UK. And to be honest part of me still isn’t back. Having got used to summer for six and a half weeks it’s a bit of a shock to emerge from Heathrow at 4.30 in the morning to -4 deg C. We’ll return to Australia soon enough, or at least the blog will, but in an effort to haul my sorry self back to reality let’s take a break for the End of Month View.

It’s become something of a New Year tradition chez rusty duck to embark on a new project and then share its progress as time goes on. And this year is no exception. But first, a recap.

 
 

 

This is where we were at the end of January last year.

Under control (ish): terraces (green)

Work in progress: Precipitous Bank (yellow)

Next to do: Upper bank (red)

 
 

 

And this is where we are today.

Under control (ish): Terraces and Precipitous Bank, bar tinkering and weeding (green).

Work in progress: The Upper Bank. You’ll notice I’ve also snuck in the strip behind the outhouses which we cleared last year to accommodate the rhododendrons evicted from the bottom of the lawn (yellow).

Next to do: The area bordered by the 84 steps (red).

 
 

 

Galanthus nivalis

The common snowdrop

 
 

Mike has helpfully pointed out that the map is no longer accurate.

For one thing the fruit cage is no more, demolished in one of last autumn’s violent storms thus saving us a job. It wasn’t the most robust structure to begin with, nor the prettiest. I thought I’d have a go at growing the fruit without the net cage. We’ll see how that goes. The blackbird is waiting patiently too.

And then of course the map still has a tall hedge to the right side of the lawn, not the neat low hedge that has now taken its place. It will do for now. No doubt some rainy afternoon I shall have to get the Tippex out.

 
 

 

Daffodils pushing up through the leaf litter

 
 

 

And so, back to the matter in hand. Allow me to present this year’s challenge.

At the bottom end of the 84 steps, close to the house, it is very steep. Surely not I hear you say. We see this area every day from the kitchen window and it’s a constant thorn in my side. But there’s a reason I’ve been putting it off.

 
 

 

Shown at this angle we can perhaps see just how steep it is.

It’s basically an extension of the vertical cliff face left hundreds of years ago when the hillside was excavated to build the house. Ferns have spread freely, as have the ubiquitous brambles, but nothing else does very well there. Even the conifer, far right, is barely surviving. That will be one of the first things to come out.

 
 

 

The camellia will stay but be reduced in size once it has finished flowering.

 
 

 

Standing to the left side of the camellia we look straight up the steps.

 
 

 

And from the right angle in the middle of the steps looking back down.

Uphill from here is woodland. And this is where the next phase of the garden development gets exciting for me and makes this year’s challenge a rather different kettle of fish. All of the areas tackled thus far have been in full sun. No longer will I be able to bung in a load of cosmos to fill up the gaps. No, now I have to start thinking properly about shade loving plants.

 
 

 

Hamamelis mollis ‘Jermyns Gold’

 
 

Wish me luck?

 

Linking to Helen at The Patient Gardener for the End of Month View.

Click through to see what other gardeners are up to this month. Or why not join in? Helen would love to see you.

 
 

 

Erica carnea ‘Nathalie’

 
 
 

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