My summer kicks off with the release of Margaret’s cows from the sheds. I was on holiday on the big day, and for the first time in several years, I missed all the pent-up excitement, the expectation, the arging and barging, the galloping, the frenetic leaping into the air and bellows resounding across the valley. And that was just Margaret – though the cows were pretty happy too.
Now that the cattle are out to summer pasture they often wander over to check whether the grass truly is greener.
A farm-hand (or one of her ‘boys’ as Margaret calls them – though one is over eighty) spent several days chugging past the Priory, carting manure to an outlying field. The Priory seemed absurdly busy with the tractor coming and going with a loud, steady thrum, thrum, thrum (that’s the noise of a tractor engine, btw).
The big Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ put on a huge amount of flower this spring. After consulting a gardening chum, I didn’t prune it back last year. I know I probably should have; I know that those long branches bend and might snap under all that weight.
But I don’t care.
The sheer number of flower-heads from those tall, overly long stems was worth the risk.
In the long borders, alliums set the ball rolling with a promise of things to come.
At least, I hope there are still things to come. I’ve re-jigged and replanted these beds during the past few months – perhaps they are now at their peak and this is their best?
Oh, dear there’s a thought. Just as well I like alliums.
The big wisteria has finished flowering now but here it is a couple of weeks ago. There was more bloom than I was expecting given the cruelly harsh winds that shredded the flower buds. But then a late frost often robs us of any flower at all. Longer racemes would look better I think but as you know I’m not one to moan.
Beyond the wisteria arbour is what I call the Rock Border (because it has rocks in it) with the second of our two V. opulus ‘Roseum.’ (The ugly bare conifer trunks mark where we lost a tree last year).
This is a spring border and was a mound of bramble, ash, bindweed and nettle when I first saw it in 2008. I’ve cleared all that stuff but still join fierce battle with ground elder – a battle I’ll be fighting until the day I leave, I fear.
On the far side of the border, a path leads up to the greenhouses beside a small lawn left uncut until daffodil leaf dies down.
A bumper crop of buttercups is a pleasant bonus.
Silene fimbriata repeats several times throughout the Rock Border (from one small clump added in 2009).
There are alliums here too
and pretty Polemonium caeruleum ‘White Pearl’
with various aquilegias.
I prefer the darker colours and promise to pull up the pinks every year but – curiously – I never do. Perhaps, deep inside I’m a pink lover after all. Fancy.
I like this border and find it as cool and inviting as a mint julep. (N.B. I don’t quite know what a mint julep is but it sounds cool and inviting).
To one side are hostas which haven’t attracted slugs nor snails
for which I’m grateful.
And our mollusc pals didn’t bother my veg either this year. I don’t grow an exciting range of vegetables: onions, garlic, a few potatoes, beans, courgettes, salad leaves, radishes. That’s more than enough for us simple Sussex folk.
Do I post a photo of the honeysuckles every year? Probably … but they are rather lovely, nestling up against the house, with a heavy, sweet perfume and the constant drone of droning insects. This one faces south
and a larger one, west. The latter was a top-heavy, bare stemmed, leggy beast when I started. I have since cut its top back hard.
Over several years, it has returned with renewed vigour and now fills the wall. I’ve never fed either of them. Maybe I should?
So there you have it – the Priory over the past two or three weeks. In addition: my newly built duck-boxes have produced no ducklings; the west pond is, for the first time, hosting a revolting green algae (and a dead crow); I’d like more rain; the amount of work is simply overwhelming; it’s sometimes been too hot for mowing; often too cold for growing (if not for weeds – they grow far faster than must be botanically possible);
those cows are forever staring at me for no good reason; and pheasant nibble my clematis. (No. That’s not a euphemism).
But I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.