Progress

Strelitzia reginae
 

Strelitzia reginae

It’s back, for a second year. Proves it wasn’t a fluke. I must be doing something right.

 

How are we all? Well, I do hope.

It seems almost impossible to believe that Himself and I haven’t crossed the boundaries of chez duck in three months now. March felt incredibly drawn out but since then the time has just flown by. It is of course in large part a function of the time of year, it would have been a very different scenario to have had lockdown in the middle of winter. And with Spring now chalked up as the sunniest on record in the UK there’s been no excuse for ignoring the massive list of tasks waiting for us outside.

 
 
Rose 'Hot Chocolate'
 

Rose ‘Hot Chocolate’

 

Strangely enough it was on the official Lockdown Day that I posted this last shot of the new terraces:

 
 

 

It all looked quite bare and sterile back then.

 
 
 

 

But it’s slowly coming on.

There’s been no further progress on the building work itself, which it seemed sensible to put on hold for the time being. So I’ve largely left the area to the right side of each terrace bed open and ready to accept the size 11 workboots when they do return. Just except for that one poor Hakonechloa.. it will have to take its chances because as one of the key anchor selections in the scheme I needed to get the spacing right. Fortunately Hakonechloa is one of those plants which gives freely of itself. Once you have it you will never be without it. And it’s robust. Quite how robust remains to be seen.

The pile of blocks in the bottom right corner was constructed by Mike to give me temporary access to the bottom bed. In lieu of a proper flight of steps. It feels like I should be mounting a horse.

I’m feeling quite chuffed that so far I’ve done all the planting for free. Mike, adopting perhaps a more purist approach to accountancy than Yours Truly, has phrased it slightly differently: “done it all for free.. this year”. And it is true that I did indeed have the prospect of the new terraces kicking around in the back of my mind while prowling the nursery benches last Autumn. I would call it gifted foresight myself, given that the opportunity for Spring Plant Fair acquisitions has this year been precisely nil. And last Autumn of course quite a few of my purchases were picked up in the half price sales. Frugal, that’s me.

But seriously, it is oh so satisfying when you can produce new plants through cuttings, divisions, seed sowing and shifting stuff around that no longer had a home elsewhere.

 
 
 

 

Two or three years ago I bought half a dozen 9cm Lavandula ‘Hidcote’ in a multibuy offer. Planted as a low hedge alongside the previous greenhouse they thrived, as far as it is possible for lavender to do that in rainy Devon, and formed substantial shrubs. After a winter spent in the veg garden ‘transition’ bed one died, one remains in intensive care, one went into the original terraces and the best three now reside here.

 
 

Calendula officinalis 'Touch of Red Buff'

 

Calendula officinalis ‘Touch of Red Buff’

I’ve never been a great one for growing annuals from seed, mostly because of all the work. Give me something I can plonk in a hole and leave to do its stuff year after year and that’ll do nicely thank you. But then I saw this in a seed catalogue and thought it looked rather fine. Which indeed it is. Has it changed my view about annuals? The jury is out. Much depends on its performance across the rest of the season. After the rain last week they are growing like topsy and smothered in blooms. If this keeps up all summer, with the appropriate deadheading of course, I might well have another go.

 
 

Phlomis lanata

 

Phlomis lanata, one of my half price selections. In the spirit of frugality.

P. russeliana is blooming its heart out on the Precipitous Bank at the moment and I do still love it, so I decided to try one or two of the more shrubby species as well.

 
 

 

At the same sale I also went for this one, Phlomis purpurea. Planted here with Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ against a backdrop of Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’. Does the meadow brown butterfly know how well she tones?

 
 

Persicaria microcephala

 

Persicaria microcephala

And talking of The Dragon, I happened across one of the species parent plants last year. It stays low, about 50cm high for me, and bears tiny white flowers quite easy to overlook. But for heavens sake, who needs the blooms. Like ‘Red Dragon’ it’s a doddle to strike cuttings. They root almost before they make it back to the potting shed bench. Already I have enough plant material to form a sizeable clump on the new terraces as well.

 
 
 

 

With all this moving and shaking the veggie bed is emptying out and as fast as it is the salads are moving back in. The crinodendron and witch hazel at the far end are in my sights for later on today. Not the best time of year to move them perhaps. But the weather is cooler, there’s even rain on the chart. And needs must.

 
 

 

A long view back down the garden from the top of the new terraces. The original terraces lie beyond, directly in front of the house. In between, Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ in full bloom. Out of place now, by virtue of it being too tall and blocky, disrupting the flow. Moving that one will have to wait. March I reckon. And even then it will be risky..

 
 
Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'
 

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

 

A shot for posterity.

Just in case.