Why Is Nothing Ever Easy?

 

 

Hellebore NoID. Yet another lost label I’m afraid.

Will I one day bust a squirrel’s drey and find a whole heap of plant labels stuffed under the bed?

 
 

 

In the woodland border alongside the 84 steps Spring is bursting forth

Where last month snowdrops underpinned the hellebores now it’s the turn of the daffodils.

 
 

 

Helleborus ‘Harvington Apricot’

 

It’s been a mixed month weather wise. It started cold with sub zero temperatures at night. In the middle, two weeks of glorious sunshine pushed the thermometer into the double digits and much gardening was done. New blooms and green shoots appeared with every new ramble. And now, following a week of continuous rain, sleet and hail, the ground is waterlogged once again. We even woke up to a dusting of snow this morning. Clearly winter isn’t quite done with us yet.

 
 

 

The 84 steps, bottom end

February

 
 

 

January

 

This gardening lark ought to be getting easier by now, surely. It’s not as if the gardener has had insufficient practice. But no, as I should have come to expect by now, nothing is ever easy. In the first place, this unassuming scrap of ground turns out to be a utility superhighway. Hidden beneath the undergrowth I have thus far unearthed:

  • No less than five, FIVE, of the large bore irrigation pipes, the main arteries of the whole system. You can see two of them, the black plastic pipes far left of centre in the February shot above. I am used to putting a fork through one of those so fixing it has become a thing of routine. Indeed, Mike committed the same crime only this last weekend. Don’t you just love it when that happens? Yours truly is supposed to remember where they all are, all of them, across all six circuits of the network, distributed fairly over an acre of ground. But who was it installed them in the first place might we ask? Huh? Mike, Who?
  •  

  • Two electrical cables. Armoured, thankfully.
  •  

  • Most worryingly of all, the oil supply pipe for the central heating. Now that would make a mess. And although we can see where the pipe enters the border and where it leaves, its route between A and B is at this point.. unknown. There was an oil delivery this week too. Meaning the tank at the top of the hill is full to bursting. Of very expensive oil. The pipe might as well be carrying 66,000 volts for all the good it will do me; I am assured that the prospect of instant death, should I happen to put a fork through that one, would be about the same.

 
 

 

The Camellia is in full bloom

It is granted indefinite leave to remain on account of its sterling performance but doesn’t escape an appointment for a short back and sides as soon as it is done.

 

The second challenge confronting the long suffering gardener is the perennial one: the weeds. Everything you wouldn’t want has made itself thoroughly at home in this patch of ground. Enchanter’s Nightshade, ivy, grass, brambles, stinging nettles. Let’s not forget my nemesis the crocosmia and a carpet of Vinca, both fully represented and totally out of control.

 
 

 

The jury is out on the heather. It has signed up for the haircut treatment as well and we’ll see how that goes. Quite attractive as heathers go, it starts off white and ends up deep pink by the end of March.

 

The third major obstacle is the state of the bank itself. The soil, particularly in the vertical section, is extremely loose. Shallow rooted weeds come out easily enough but with the slightest disturbance a bucket load of earth falls away. Digging the brambles out of here is clearly going to be impractical so I’ve resorted to just cutting them back level with the soil. I’m hoping that if I keep on doing this, repeating the process at the first hint of grow back, eventually I’ll starve the root. It’s worked in other parts of the garden so maybe it will here too.

 
 

 

But the ground is cleared, even if only for now, and I’ve started the planting. A trio of hellebores near the front plus a much prized and long awaited Rosa mutabilis which has gone in behind the camellia. Plenty of room there for the rose to spread.

 
 

 

Helleborus ‘Harvington Double Yellow Speckled’

 

When everything is so bloomin’ hard it’s tempting just to give up. But, no, there has been worse than this. And it does look so much better already.

 
 

 

Diminutive daffodils popping up each side of the 84 steps

 
 

 
 

Next month: weather permitting, onwards up the hill.

Pipe? Yep, clocked it. It’s another section of the oil feed. Doh.

 
 

Linking to Helen at The Patient Gardener for the End of Month View (here)

and Sarah at Down By The Sea for Through The Garden Gate (here).

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

 
 
 

pin it?

 

2017-03-06T17:59:19+00:00 February 28th, 2017|Tags: |96 Comments

96 Comments

  1. justjilluk February 28, 2017 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I love a wander round your garden. Keep going !

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      Only the start of the season and it’s hard going already 🙁

  2. Christina February 28, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    That oil pipe is very worrying; I’d be completely terrified of putting a fork through it. Be careful, Jessica!! I know from experience how difficult a slope is to work on (and mine is nowhere near as steep or long as yours. That said the effect when it is full of flowers can’t be beaten. You’re getting there, well done.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      The oil pipe is worrying. There are huge sections of it still to come, all the way down the hill in fact. I know roughly where it’s likely to be, but not exactly..

  3. Charles February 28, 2017 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Is it safe to say Hellebores are your favourite? I only ever see rather large (and expensive) ones in my garden centre which just wouldn’t fit in my small garden. Good luck with the next part, I’d probably have given up by now with all those oil pipes scaring me senseless

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      I did overdo the hellebores a bit didn’t I. They are definitely a favourite though. They shout Spring to me above everything else. Plus they look way too exotic to be blooming in February. But then there are the architectural leaves which provide a good foil for other things later in the year. The leaves do tend to get tatty late winter but that’s the time to cut them off to let the new blooms emerge. Fit one in if you can. For me the doubles have tended to stay smaller.

  4. FlowerAlley February 28, 2017 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    I am exhausted from reading this. All of your accidental finds make my satellite cable stabbings insignificant. I too have several hills that I constantly climb to weed and plant. I ask myself, “Should I tackle this task from the top or the bottom”? Neither option is easy. Don’t hurt yourself. Two days at full throttle have left my achy and stiff. Just the mention of 84 steps makes me cringe. I have many sets of steps. All together they total nothing near 84. Bless you my friend.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      I forget the satellite cables. See the dish? It’s an old one though and coming out, so maybe I can’t do too much damage there 🙂
      First few days out after winter I ache so bad. But it’s a satisfying ache when you look at how much difference you’ve made.

  5. woodlandgnome February 28, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on all you have accomplished! Your Hellebores are certainly happy. You may find yourself adding “Hellebore” to your list alongside the Crocosmia, Vinca and Calluna. Have yours begun their colony of seedlings, yet? Yet, with a large property, the Hellebore seedlings fall more to the side of ‘gift’ than of nuisance… at least for us. We transplant them to new areas in part because they have such deep roots to hold the ground and serve as year round ground cover. And, their early blooms feed a crowd of hungry pollinators when there’s not much else to feed them. I am admiring your steps, too. I chuckle as I read this post because many of the challenges you have in this part of your garden have been our challenges, too. Only rather than an oil line, ours is for natural gas. We still have little flags marking the main lines in some areas. We had it all marked out when we were first here. But all of these challenges also inspire us to work around them, don’t they? Happy spring! Isn’t it all just so beautiful ? <3 <3 <3

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm - Reply

      It’s funny, I’ve seen very few hellebore seedlings in this garden, even around the established clumps. Maybe the soil is just too heavy for them to take root. A pity, as they are such useful plants. The soil holding and ground covering aspects are important for me on the steep slope. I’ve had some success with bought seeds though so the collection is increasing nicely.
      I should take up your idea of placing flags where the service lines are… when I eventually find them all!

  6. derrickjknight February 28, 2017 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    You are working wonders. Maybe the main benefit of the 84 steps is that you can photograph hellebore blooms without having to prostrate yourself?

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:07 pm - Reply

      Absolutely Derrick. It’s difficult to see from the photo but the latest three are planted at head height, on top of a wall. Perfectly positioned to look straight up into the bloom.

  7. karen February 28, 2017 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Eeek! The oil pipe. Fingers crossed for you. My grandmother used to say, nothing that’s worth achieving was ever easily won. That’s so true even for gardening. I’m battling away with stinging nettles,brambles and ground ivy. But I’m just going to tackle a small corner of the garden at a time and not try to go at it all. I love the hellebores and spring flowers in your garden.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      When a job is daunting that is the approach I take too, a bit at a time. Just an hour or so each day. It’s amazing how quickly those few short sessions amount to real progress.

  8. karen February 28, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    We have our own water pipe line all along the lane – a mile long. I’m terrified anyone will accidentally did it up. Including me! We also have to be careful as we have our own sewage system. You really don’t want to cut through those pipes…. All the best with your beautiful project. You inspire me every day x

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      No indeed, best to avoid that pipe! Luckily we installed the waste water treatment plant here so I know where those pipes go. But before that the system was archaic to say the least and we experienced a burst sewage pipe in the garden. I can tell you, it was not pleasant.

  9. Backlane Notebook February 28, 2017 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Gosh I’m feeling tense about your oil pipe and electric cable. But the garden looks very pretty and it is still only the beginning of March. Hooray for hellebores and self seeders to reduce the work.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      Hellebores certainly do that. The roots are so tough I’m hoping they’ll stop even the brambles from breaking through once they get established.

  10. Pauline February 28, 2017 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    We found an electricity cable in the garden, but fortunately when we were digging down, it had plastic sheeting over it warning us of the danger, maybe something like that could be done with your oil pipe? You have worked wonders with your slope already, I feel exhausted just reading your posts!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm - Reply

      We’ll have to do something to identify the sections of pipe we have found. There’s a long stretch of it down the hill from the top to the house which I’m hoping I will be able to track and bury. The bit closest to the house will probably remain forever a mystery!

  11. Lea February 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, especially the Hellebores!
    Dare I say “Happy Spring”? Winter may give us one more blast to say ‘good-bye’

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Well I’m firmly thinking Spring! But in reality there’s a couple of months yet with the possibility of night time frosts. Snow is unlikely now but.. certainly not unknown.

  12. Christina February 28, 2017 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, your photos of the hellebores are all absolutely stunning. The variety in flower color is simply amazing in these plants, but I have to admit my favorite is the white noID one in your first shot.
    I hear you about pipes running in unpredictable ways through your garden. It is the same here. Previous owners of the house seem to have put in irrigation pipes in a crisscross pattern with no rime or reason. Sometimes pipes are put in two levels on top of each other. We never know which pipe carries water and which one doesn’t. I think we will be fixing this until we can’t garden anymore. But after reading you post I know now it can be worth, I am just saying oil pipe… At least we don’t have that, but we do have a gas pipe, though!
    Happy spring to you and your garden!
    Christina

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      Pipes run in all sorts of strange directions here too. No doubt the easiest route rather than the most logical route! It does make it so difficult for those who follow. The oil pipe, the section of it we have found, goes under the steps then through a border on the other side and back under the steps again. How is that ever going to be a predictable route? It’s a miracle I haven’t sliced it in half already.

  13. snowbird February 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Tell you what, you deserve a medal! Goodness me, oil pipes and cables?!? I’d be terrified! I love the hellebore no ID and the camellia. I bet those 84 steps keep you fit!xxx

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      I’m hoping they’ll keep me fit. The chap we bought the place from was 90 the day he left. I hope we fare as well!

  14. Linda B. February 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Now that you mention pipes I realize I will be planting in an area with water and electric lines this spring. Maybe I will dig with a spoon! It is hard sometimes to see all the progress because we get so fixated on the “to do” list. But it is really looking great.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. It’s often quite a shock to see a picture of an area as it was a year or so before. When we see the gradual changes day by day it’s easy to lose touch with how much progress has actually been made.

  15. Torrington Tina February 28, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Your hellebores are just beautiful, I added a Harvington ‘Double Yellow’ to my garden last week, and could have bought several more while they are still in bloom and I can see the colours and flower shapes. You really do not have an easy plot but your perseverance is a brilliant example of what can be done. The busy seasons are coming on with a rush and we will look forward to seeing what you develop next.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      The busy seasons are definitely coming on with a rush. We need to be in so many different places at once. Do I carry on developing new areas or battle to keep control of those already begun? The latter I think, for a few days at least. Your ‘Double Yellow’ sounds lovely.

  16. bumbleandme February 28, 2017 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    I’m so with you in the crocosmia! The Bain if my life!! I thought I’d done a really good job last year of removing the bulbs, but alas they’re up again this year! I have pondered about pitting them up and trying to give them away, as I’ve had lots of people comment on how lovely they are! If only they knew………. onwards and upwards. Stay safe out there! X

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      I always laugh when I go to garden centres and see how much they sell for, that and so many other invasives. I bought a very pretty saxifrage at a plant fair years ago for what at the time was a lot of money. Since then I’ve given away masses of the stuff and learned that the common name is Mother of Thousands.. luckily it’s easy to pull up and also likes shade. There’s a lot of shady ground to cover here.
      Not all crocosmia is bad though. I’ve started growing one or two of the named varieties having read that they are better behaved.

  17. Edinburgh Garden Diary February 28, 2017 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Those hellebores are to die for, especially the apricot one, as is the camellia. I hope very much that you, and the cables and pipelines, survive each other!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      You’ll know if I hit the oil pipe. You will be able to hear Mike screaming from there..

  18. Grace | eTilth February 28, 2017 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Challenging site, beautifully done! Cracked me up with the hairstyling suggestions, and yes, poor Mike; maybe needs a pipe-detector on the end of that digging fork?

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Hello Grace and welcome!
      It is an extremely challenging site, far more than I ever anticipated when we bought the place. But I’ve made my bed.. the only option is to keep going. We need something to detect all those pipes, that’s for sure.

  19. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener February 28, 2017 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I can’t believe how ALIVE your garden is. I’m envious. Not of the slope, or the weeds or the apparently ease with which you may kill yourself with one mis-aim of the spade, but of all those living things. Be careful out there!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:33 pm - Reply

      The mice are also very much alive. So are the deer, rabbits and the pheasants. I found a slug the other day too. Anything that eats a plant basically..
      Spring will come to Wisconsin. Keep the faith!

  20. Sarah February 28, 2017 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Thanks for joining in with me! Those pipelines must be a nightmare I am so clumsy that I would definitely damage them! Your camillia looks a wonderful sight, you have a wonderful selection of hellebores. Sarah x

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      It’s a pleasure to join in! The camellias are doing so well this year. It seems a shame to cut this one back but it isn’t a good shape. It is also taking over the path so it’s time something was done.

  21. Ian Lumsden February 28, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Nice hellebores. That first may well be Harvington Single White. Difficult to tell due to the artistically posed flower that disguises the stamen colour. Whatever, it looks lovely in the rain. You have a good eye. I’d get the label and marker out. No-one is going to argue.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      No shortage of rain at the moment. But raindrops on flowers do look so wonderful.
      Will do.. thanks Ian.

  22. Dorothy Borders February 28, 2017 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    “Why is nothing ever easy?” A question I and gardeners everywhere have asked ourselves thousands of times. And still we have no answer. Nevertheless, your garden shows that it is worth the effort.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      Therein lies the challenge. If it was too easy it wouldn’t be nearly so rewarding. Thanks Dorothy.

  23. Sue Garrett February 28, 2017 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    Camellias respond really well to a harsh hair cut, although our two did have a flowerless year.following a short back and sides.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:54 pm - Reply

      That’s comforting to know, thanks Sue. I did wonder if I’d lose some blooms but to be honest it would still be worth it to get a more compact shrub. It has been struggling under a heavy tree canopy for years and is growing all to one side. But we’ve thinned the trees now, so hopefully if I cut it back it will grow more symmetrically in the future.

  24. smallsunnygarden March 1, 2017 at 12:22 am - Reply

    I was feeling very fortunate here (fortunate, mind you, not smug), reading about your hazards, till I recollected that when I start working on the west side of the house there will be the water and septic lines to dodge…
    You’ve done so much already with that slope though – fabulous! I hope your heather works out as I think it looks lovely!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      The heather, like so many other things around here, has just grown away out of control. I would like to keep it if I can trim it back a bit and reduce the legginess.

  25. Kris P March 1, 2017 at 12:43 am - Reply

    Oh my! In addition to your crampons, methinks perhaps you need some of the specialized archaeological tools used in delicate excavations. Best wishes with the next phase, Jessica! You’ve made great progress thus far. It’ll get easier one day (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      Oh I do hope it gets easier! I think it will. Already the bits I cleared first are taking less work to maintain. The challenge will be to pace my progress around the garden such that I can keep the areas I’ve already done under control. Sounds so simple doesn’t it..

  26. germac4 March 1, 2017 at 2:27 am - Reply

    I love your Hellebores especially the Harington Double Yellow Speckled … Gorgeous! And your camellias are much more cheerful than ours … They have been wilting in the heat & would love some of your rain. We used to have an underground sprinkler system in the garden & we were forever digging into it …. Needless to say it did not survive. Pity about the weeds but the consolation is every gardener in the world is fighting the war on weeds! Looks like Spring is on the way for you!
    By the way, my cousin teaches not far from Cairns & was delighted to read your posts on North Queensland.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      Mike has a good stock of the watering pipe connector pieces. We do seem to need a fair few! The trouble is he insists on the pipes being buried. But out of sight, out of mind. I’d prefer to have them where I can see them and let the plants grow over to cover them. Perhaps when the garden is more established my way will win out.
      Thanks for passing on the link, I’m glad your cousin enjoyed the posts.

  27. Celia March 1, 2017 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Divining should find your pipes and cables. I have no idea how it works but it does and most folk can do it.
    I love your hellebores, ours struggle in our silty soil that gets very dry.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Celia and welcome!
      I’d never thought of divining. With all that energy passing through the ground you’d think something would get picked up. Mostly wet clay soil in this part of Devon, I struggle with very many things but hellebores seem to love it.

  28. wherefivevalleysmeet March 1, 2017 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Your garden is looking pretty Jessica – I think that my Hellebores have formed the biggest bunches of flowers that I have ever seen this year, and lots of escapes also flowering too. Rubber gloves, I think, help protect you from electric shocks!!!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      The hellebores have had a good year, some of my seed raised plants have bloomed for the first time.
      I shall break out the Marigolds forthwith!

  29. offtheedgegardening March 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    Please be careful out there! Here is hoping the weather will be a little kinder to us in the next few weeks. Looking good there, in spite of everything. 🙂

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      We do need a good Spring don’t we. What is the opposite of a rain dance?

  30. Linnae March 1, 2017 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Oh dear–I hope you don’t find the oil pipes by mistake! Strong work on the slope projects! Every little bit helps. Your spring blooms are looking lovely.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Slopes are tough aren’t they. Little by little, it’s the only way to go. Eventually I will conquer it.

  31. Brian Skeys March 1, 2017 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    In defence of Mike, I installed our original soaker hose and have put the spade through it on numerous occasions. I think it’s the enthusiasm to get the work done!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      It’s usually me who puts a spade (or a fork) through the pipes to be fair. Once they’re buried it’s impossible to remember where they all are. I wouldn’t be without the irrigation though. On a south facing clay slope I wouldn’t cope otherwise.

  32. Diana Studer March 1, 2017 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Goodness but your hellebores are beautiful, the apricot and the gentle yellow.

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks Diana. They are up there with my very favourite plants, especially as they bloom now when the rest of the garden is only just beginning to show signs of life.

  33. Libby March 1, 2017 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    so lovely to visit someones elses garden

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Libby and welcome!
      I’m afraid it looks a little bit sad at the moment. The discouraging stage when the soil is cleared but most of the planting has yet to be done. Not helped by the time of year. But still, the green shoots get longer every day. Spring is just around the corner!

  34. Cathy March 1, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Where was the 90 year old owner moving to I wonder, and what did he feel about leaving the place? I suppose it was increasingly difficult for him to manage but he must have put his heart into it at one time, as you are doing. Great progress on the bank – but of course keeping it that way will also be a challenge. That apricot hellebore is one I have not seen before – I am sure I could find a space for one of those! Re crocosmia, I am coming to think they are not worth the bother – they might look good for a season or two, but trying to keep them flowering even with regular division is not easy, and of course, they multiply…and multiply…

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      As I uncover more of the garden I start to see just how good it must have looked when it was in its prime. The bit we’ve just cleared would originally have been a rockery. We’ve just shifted the stones temporarily but will bed them in to form a wall to create a terrace and make the area easier to plant. Most of the structure of the garden was gifted to me, ‘all’ I need to do now is resurrect the planting. I just bought a Double Apricot hellebore from Crocus, not seen the bloom yet though. A treat for next year hopefully.

  35. Karen March 1, 2017 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    I do not have to deal with the subterranean hazards you speak of, in my world the hazards on the first of March are much different. The weeds are small! They can never compete with my boundless energy! I must sow every last seed from every last seed packet I ordered in the darkness of November. This year will be different. I can feel it!

    • Jessica March 1, 2017 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Karen and welcome.
      Ah, I’m with you there. First seeds sown today and boy does it feel good to have kicked off the season at last.

  36. hb March 2, 2017 at 12:56 am - Reply

    I think you need a couple of Koala photos right about now.

    Your project is very difficult, but it will be that much more of an achievement when it is complete. Some infrastructure so you can stand safely–stones set into the hill, steps, small retaining wallls–I could not handle my slopes without them. First of all, it must be safe for you to work. I am sure you will figure out how to get that slope into beauty again. Your achievements with your house are proof of that.

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks Hoov. That’s one of the reasons we put the stones there, to help me climb the slope. But it will need a few more. And some footholds driven into the vertical face of the bank.

  37. pullingweeds March 2, 2017 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Looks like you’ve got lots of early blooms. My garden is still quite new, and ironically, I think early season interest is usually the last part of a garden to develop. I’ve got snowdrops, anemones, aconites, primroses, but not much of a show – they’re taking a long time to bulk up. And as for hellebores – I’d love to have some, but have been put off by the prices. I have got a few clumps of Jetfire & Tete-a-tete to cheer me up.

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      Hi Graham and welcome!
      Hellebores are not cheap, the main reason I started trying to grow them from seed. I’ve had the first lot bloom this year, from a sowing three years ago. They’re not bad, mostly white speckled. But there’s one that has a blush of pink and is rather nice. Worth a try..

  38. Caro March 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Hellebores in the garden here (pink ones, inherited) self seed into the gravel next to the border. I removed hundreds last year so you might get lucky with some seedlings. I’m glad someone gave a likely name for your white Hellebore in the comments, it’s one that I’d like to get hold of. Well done on all the hard work – but be very careful of your back if you dive in too quickly; I’ve restarted early morning yoga stretches in preparation for bending over to do the weeding!

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      This time of year even a bit of gardening tests the muscles. I’ve got too used to the sedentary life. But lousy weather has been intervening sufficiently to keep my over-ambition at bay!

  39. Brenda March 3, 2017 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Too easy would be boring, right? At least you haven’t sprained your ankle while you prod and poke those pipes. Your hellebores are indeed lovely and I’m sure the squirrels are laughing as they stash labels up in their drey (a new word to me). I will have to use it, but no one here will know what I’m talking about.

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      I’ve very conscious of NOT spraining the ankle, after last year’s six weeks out. Something is stealing the labels. It’s easy to blame the squirrels, they’ve demonstrated their wickedness so often in the past!

  40. kate@barnhouse March 3, 2017 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Your garden is full of surprises, Jessica, and the story of how you deal with them is always interesting if sometimes a bit hair raising. When we moved here the boiler engineer insisted that we relocate the oil tank and specified at what depth the feed pipe should be buried, which was an expensive nuisance. I gulped when I saw what you’re having to deal with. At least you’re getting to know where these things are ….

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      I’m sure if such a pipe was installed here today similar regulations would apply. This one is fairly historic. Where it lays overground it’s actually much safer for the moment because I can see where it is. When we bury it there will need to be some markers.

  41. Natalie March 3, 2017 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos, as always! I particularly like the “Helleborus ‘Harvington Double Yellow Speckled’”

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Gorgeous isn’t it. Hope you’re feeling much better!

  42. Peter/Outlaw March 3, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the morning chuckle. You have a knack for making your travail extremely entertaining for your readers. Thank goodness that the oil feed pipe and the gardener are still in one piece!

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks Peter. So far..

  43. hoehoegrow March 3, 2017 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Maybe the bramble roots will all grow together to form an underground net, in perfect harmony, which will hold the soil firmly in place. Maybe.

    • Jessica March 3, 2017 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      That’s another reason for leaving them in place. Assuming I manage to kill off the plant, even dead roots provide some structure until new planting takes over.

  44. Freda March 3, 2017 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    You wouldn’t really like easy Jessica….

    • Jessica March 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      You’re probably right. But if I could try it out for a little while.. just to see?

  45. Indie March 4, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Oh no! I’ve hit and broken a section of irrigation pipe, but thankfully Mr. Red House could fix it. That hill looks quite the challenge even without worrying about pipes! Your hellebores are beautiful. The deer have eaten all of mine down to the stems, and I am waiting to see if they make it and come back.

    • Jessica March 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Now you have me worried about deer. Up until last year I’d thought things planted near the house were safe, but I’ve come to see differently. They came to within six feet of the house wall.

  46. Linda P. March 4, 2017 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    The hellebores are gorgeous. You’ve made a good start on the slope by the steps, but take care Jessica as you work up the hill. Hope not too much rain to make it slippery. Mr. P. will be tackling our own sloping land soon, weather permitting. Fortunately no fuel pipes (we have a calor gas tank and bottles) or cables. Interesting to read about water divining in one of the comments as we did use that method on our land to find water so we could drill and construct a well with electric pump. I expect today modern technology is used. The company found a potential spot but had to drill down 160 ms through solid rock before they got the underground water source! At least we know our house foundations are on rock and not sand! Top soil is clay. Looking forward to seeing more of your progress on your land at the end of the month.

    • Jessica March 5, 2017 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      160 metres through rock sounds a hard job. And expensive! I envy you going back to Italy, I hope you have a relaxing time and feel the warmth of the sun. Look forward to reading all about it. Take care.

  47. Anna March 5, 2017 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    Please let me know if you ever do find a stash of labels in a squirrel’s drey Jessica. I’m still looking for labels that went missing 20 years ago. I am full of admiration for your energy and determination. You are making great progress although it probably doesn’t seem like it to you.

    • Jessica March 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm - Reply

      I wonder if our labels are circulating on a squirrelly black market somewhere. Maybe it’s a bit like collecting stamps, the rarest specimens changing hands for significant quantities of nuts.
      Thanks Anna. The day by day changes never seem very much do they. It’s good to look back sometimes to see just how far we have come.

  48. Chloris March 6, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Goodness, you do garden dangerously and all while hanging on to the edge of a cliff. But what lovely spring flowers; gorgeous hellebores and camellias.

    • Jessica March 7, 2017 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      I need more arms that’s all. Two to hang on and two to dig. The balancing act is the most difficult bit and pulls on muscles you never knew you had.

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