The gardens are generally looking fine.
Though frankly if they didn’t during June, I might as well give up and get a proper job.
But the Kidney Beds are in dire need of a major revamp. They were cobbled together five years ago with a few sitting tenants, some plants from my garden, gifts from friends and impulse buys. I’ve added all sorts of ‘stuff’ since then.
And I have been fairly pleased with how they’ve performed whilst I concentrated on other parts of the garden. But (and yes, I say it every year) their time has come: in the autumn I am going to strip them out, simplify and replant.
And the same goes for you, Long Borders. I now have enough mature, bulky plants to make a bolder, less bitty design and give space to swamped, under-performers. In the early days, my main concern was filling bare soil but now I’m looking forward to a full frontal assault on all four borders with digging-fork, spade, mattock, bow-saw and grin.
During June the Tropical Border gets under way. And this is a border which I did plan and plant from scratch – and that I really enjoyed. I’ll do a post later in the summer on how it has developed this year; which plants I’ve added … and which I’ve deleted.
Some plants in the garden don’t need much attention; the Hydrangea petiolaris on the front wall of the house for example. I deadhead it (a little), cut growth creeping over windows and into the roof but otherwise leave it to its own slow devices.
Some plants left unwatched will mis-behave. This black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) was about two foot tall and a foot across (and mostly dead) when I rescued it from a garden centre bargain basement. I homed it in a quiet, mostly unvisited, unseen corner of the garden five or six years ago. It has a clearly defined planting pocket but has chosen to throw out three new canes into the surrounding grass. I didn’t really have time to enlarge the ‘pocket with an edging iron but had to save those three large new shoots. Then, on hands and knees, I lifted away the turf. And goodness but didn’t half jump when I uncovered this:
I have no idea what it is – looks rather like something Quatermass would have unearthed: an inspiration for H R Giger’s Alien.
I was fascinated and especially so by the larva leaping about like a Mexican jumping bean.
I hastily re-buried it and wondered what it would pupate into and what would eventually emerge from deep within the bamboo. And whether it’ll bear a grudge.**
I fed and re-mulched the bamboo and happily counted 20 new canes – normally it produces a dozen. (The new canes are green but gradually darken to black over the course of a year). I remove thinner, older canes as new, thicker ones grow and strip off the lower leaves to show-off the black.
I haven’t seen grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) on the meadow since 2011 – though I look every year. In early June it was back in several large-ish patches. I think it perfect.
And it does grow from what looks like grass, rather than the usual pea-like vetch leaves – hence its name.
And does anyone know what this is? I’ve tried and failed to identify it. It appeared in un-mown grass by the greenhouses.
I think it is an allium but where has it come from? It isn’t anything I’ve introduced. Pretty though. *
Grass grows so very quickly during May and June that mowing seems endless. Actually, no mowing is endless. But Hallelujah! The recent lack of rain has finally put a stop to that inch of new growth every few days. Mowing is hard, hot and pretty boring work – my method of emptying the trailer into the compost bins doesn’t make it any easier.
That full trailer is very heavy to tip over and I can have five or six to empty a day. (I save a pretty penny on gym fees). Mowing operations are slowed and interrupted by languid bumbles and distracted honey bees. (I can’t mow a bee; call me old-fashioned). I stop and nudge them gently with the front of the mower, so entranced are they by flowering clover.
But what has truly slowed grass-cutting down this year are froglets. Dozens upon dozens of them – and they’re just the ones I notice. I reckon there must be thousands, especially in the meadow and along the pond fringes and ditches where the grass is damper. As I mow, or even just walk about, they hop about my approaching feet or wheels – like miniature firecrackers. But often they don’t actually get out of my way and again I stop the mower, gather them up or shoo them them safely to one side. (I can’t mow a frog: call me old-fashioned).
Here’s a small gang I disturbed when lawn-edging.
I’ve started harvesting new potatoes, cucumbers, sprouting broccoli, salad leaves and radishes. But the Priory’s bumper crop this year is froglets.
* Thanks to Fraser – @insightofseed – and Frank at Bittster who both suggested triteleia and a quick on-line image search confirms that it is. It’s also called Fool’s Onion – now then, who suggested it might be an allium?
** And thanks also for your suggestions in helping to identify the larva (though actually I realise now it is a pupa). I think it is a great diving beetle. Unless you know different.