11 November 2020
My miniature ‘water garden’ (consisting of one terracotta pot and water lily) is now under water after days of torrential rain. Much of the rest of the garden requires either webbed feet or wellington boots and it looks as if the weather will remain unsettled for some days to come. Even the deep ditches on the road to the cove have burst their banks and the bay is experiencing particularly high tides. Two weeks ago, the small track traversing the cove disappeared over night as the southern gales covered it with large boulders, making it impassable. It has already been repaired, but if other years are anything to go by it will suffer the same fate at least two or more times this winter.
It is impossible to work in the garden so I have been forced to tidy the garage (garden shed) instead – a job that I hate. There are two essential outdoor activities that I cannot ignore despite the rain. Walking the dogs and feeding the birds. My bird feeders are attracting a variety of birds who are all waiting for me when I fill the feeders early in the morning. Unfortunately, this includes over ten crows. I have been advised to string twine with hanging ribbons across the feeding area to stop them from landing. However, two male and three female pheasants also come for food and I do not want to do anything to deter them. So, for the moment I am just tolerating the crows and add some extra food for the blue tits and finches. I feed the robins separately as they prefer to remain near the copse and their favourite hawthorn trees.
As gardening is out of the question, I am going to use the time researching bare-rooted trees for my annual planting. This year I have decided to plant about one third of the small field in front of the house. Throughout the year I have been carefully marking the seedlings that have taken root in the garden and will transplant these to the field as soon as the weather allows. So far, I have 15 hawthorn trees, two ash trees, one cherry tree and one sycamore. Italian alder have done well in the copse and eucalyptus also seem to thrive in the salty conditions, so I will need to buy these. I will also try some oak trees for variety. I will use willow cuttings to provide a shelter belt on the southwest side of the field and will add shrubs later. It will be a big project and I hope that the persistent gales take a break for a while to allow me to plant in relative comfort.
I am also tempted to try a few more unusual trees for this area. The above two photographs were taken a few weeks ago at my favourite swimming place. They are in the remains of what must have been an impressive wood planted many years ago. They are seen at their best when you swim out from the shore and look back at them dominating the landscape. I would love to know more about the original planting and the very imaginative gardener who oversaw it. I think the first tree is a Monterey cypress and judging by its size it is very old. It has obviously taken a battering from the weather, but as it is just feet from the bay it is amazing that it survived at all. Both it and the Monkey Puzzle tree Araucaria araucaria are exposed to the worst of weathers and it seems fitting to try them in my field where they could add a dramatic touch to the area.
I am also going to add to my collection of crab apple and ornamental cherry trees. Both of these have done very well in the garden despite the exposure. The cherries seem to be particularly robust and to date have not minded the endless storms that have battered the garden this year. The photograph (above) of the Prunus ‘Amanogawa’, or flagpole cherry, was taken just a couple of days ago. The early frost is visible on the left of the photograph. It is one of the few trees that has retained its leaves until now in spite of the endless gales that have battered it and the rest of the garden. It has also consistently produced dramatic autumn colours when much of the other trees are bare. Prunus Shogetsu or Blushing bride has also done very well. I have decided to line the curved path between the fruit garden and the standing stone garden with a mix of cherry and crab apple trees as it seems sensible to stick with what is already working in that part of the garden.
The new planting here will result in a double row of medium sized ornamental cherries and crab apple trees
Prunus Shogetsu in the spring
I would normally head to my favourite garden centre, Future Forests, to select my trees in person. One of my greatest pleasures on rainy days is to go the garden centre and enjoy the myriad of possible plantings and to imagine what one could do if you had an endless garden. Sadly, it is closed to the public as we go through our second Covis-19 lockdown and so I will have to make do with the internet. This probably means that I will spend less, but I would still prefer the pleasure of looking at any new arrivals they might have.
I am also thinking of adding a few more delicate plants to the copse now that the shrubberies are starting to provide some shelter at a low level. To date I have planted two acers in the area and both have done well. The Acer Palmatum Osakazuki was one of the two hundred or so plants that travelled with me as I moved from rented home to rented home for three years and seems none the worse for the experience. I planted it behind the garden shed at the north wall in the hope that it would have enough shelter and it rewards me with beautiful foliage in the autumn.
18 November 2020
This is a week of ‘yellow’ storm warnings and despite the rain I have had to carry out a few essential tasks. Buddleja do well here and are very important in providing nectar for butterflies. They do not seem to root very deeply and I have had to prune some rather drastically today as they are being battered by the winds from the south west and seem ready to take off. I could not call it a neat job as I was in a hurry to get back to a dry and wind free house. I will have to tidy up the shrubs when the wind and rain desists.
Some lingering colour in the garden
Eucryphia Lucida Pink Cloud – this resides in the horse-fly garden and is still bearing flowers
This late ornamental crab apple is providing rich colour and is the last of the year.
These nasturtiums seed themselves around the garden every year and have already survived two heavy frosts. These have decided to grow over the septic tank!
19 November 2020
After two days of storms there has been a lull in the weather. I now have to be patient and wait for the ground to dry so that I can start my winter pruning in earnest. In the meantime, I could start washing all of my pots but suspect that I will defer this dull task until I really have nothing else to do.