Hope Springs Eternal


Mornin’ Ptolemy..


It’s THAT time of year. When a male pheasant stakes out his territory and then aggressively defends it. The sound of a rival always elicits the same response. The bird will raise himself up to full height and state of alert, sticking out the tufts behind each ear. To reinforce his claim he’ll squawk loudly with much flapping of wings from a standing position. Or should I say.. almost standing. Wing flapping can be executed with so much enthusiasm I’ve witnessed Mr P almost topple over. Tricky if you happen to be perched on a precipice at the time. As here. I was quite pleased with the photo though, given that it was taken on full zoom through a (very) dirty window and in poor light.



The landscaping is complete.


During the last couple of sunny days the soil has even started to dry out. Over the next few weeks we’ll start to break up the larger clods of earth. Once it has settled and the tilth is fine enough it can be seeded to grass.

The Digger Man managed to haul himself out in the end. It was touch and go but it’s truly amazing what these machines can do. He rammed the long arm and its bucket into the ground behind him and used it as an extra lever to force himself up the hill. All went well until the digger reached the house. The kitchen is in a single storey extension and the gutters are particularly low. It was clear he wasn’t going to make it. We’d tried building up the ground to one side of the path with concrete blocks but it still wasn’t enough room for him to swing around. The only way left to go? Take the roof off the digger. Well of course. It took all three of us to lift it.



The new terraced walls, complete but for a short return at the near end to border a set of steps down to the lower level.



And behold!

Planting has occurred.



There is a little more digging over and mulch spreading to be done but, importantly, there is a lot we can now progress with on our own.


It seems increasingly likely that the UK, alongside many other European nations, will be put into lockdown. To be honest we’ve elected to do this chez duck ahead of the game, given the prevailing spirit of official procrastination. Neither of us can claim to be a spring chicken any more and there really is no point in taking risks. Shopping is still delivered to the gate albeit the process isn’t as smooth as once it was. Hopefully we won’t have shot ourselves in the foot for refusing to panic buy. Well OK then, apart from the compost..


Clematis alpina 'Frances Rivis'


Clematis alpina ‘Frances Rivis’


As gardeners most of us are fortunate to have our own private green space to relax in and, of course, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it is Spring. Last year this clematis had been engulfed by an overly rampant honeysuckle. This year the honeysuckle is gone and I’ve been suitably rewarded. The clematis is covered in blooms.



Some of the hellebores planted years ago are bulking up nicely too.



The problem I have currently, the one that I can at least control in some respects, is the perennial one of undercover space. The Great Spring Pot Migration has begun.


It all has to take place in a particular order:


1. Mike removes the scaffolding boards and other assorted building related detritus from the dumping ground in front of the shed.

2. Hardier plants that have overwintered in a sheltered sunken area at the side of the house are moved to the cleared area in front of the shed (above). These will get planted as soon as I have the right spot available.

3. Plants previously nestled in two cold frames in that same sheltered area are evicted out into the cold, into the space occupied by those aforementioned in 2. Tough love. But I’m sure they’ll cope.

4. The more tender plants which overwintered in the cold frame attached to the greenhouse move into one or other of the cold frames mentioned in 3.

5. From the greenhouse, cuttings and strongly growing seedlings move into the newly vacant space in the integral cold frame. This can borrow off some of the greenhouse heat via a flap in the wall thus starting the process of hardening off.

6. And thus, at last, I have space to prick out more seedlings and sow more seeds on the greenhouse staging. Albeit not a lot of space.


Phew. Until next week when the pot shuffle will have to start over again. Oh to have room for a polytunnel.


Helleborus 'Penny's Pink'


Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink’


Banksia blechnifolia


My precious Banksia blechnifolia.

It has survived the winter and is putting up baby leaves. To me they look like something straight out of ‘Alien’. It would be fantastic to get a bloom off this some day in the distant future but in the meantime the foliage alone makes me smile.



Arisaema sikokianum

And finally, another of my more extravagant purchases from a Spring plant fair last year. (Remember them?) Now soaring out of the ground like a middle finger punching the air. Defiance. Hope.


Please keep safe x