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






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.


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